But don’t confuse the heft of the plan with its value. The process you follow and the effort you expend in thinking about where you are going and what will need to occur to get there is where the value lies.
You may have started your business without a plan. [quotes]Your plans were in your head back then and you executed them to create something of your own.[/quotes] They were not carved in stone but it didn’t matter, the day after you started business, reality set in and you had to modify your plan and strategy to adapt to a new reality and survive.
Maybe a few years have gone by, and you're realizing that your employees may not have the same vision or any vision of where you want to take the company. Maybe you have gotten a little lax at planning because of the growing success of your operation. Perhaps you just expect people to slavishly follow and they better do it with enthusiasm!
Whatever the case may be, even if you only have a few employees, you're going to need to know how to use a strategic plan as a tool to focus everyone’s energies and mold them into ardent followers of your vision. [quotesright]It’s part of effective leadership and done right it will make your job a lot less stressful and your employees much happier. [/quotesright]
But how can you create a plan that will work in your favor and not be over complicated or end up propping up an uneven table leg?
The last thing you want to do is put a lot of work into a plan that doesn't work with your employees, becomes obsolete or is simply done “because you are supposed to do one of these things.” [quotes]You and your employees must believe in the plan for it to work and you must distill it down into something useful you will follow and monitor continually.[/quotes]
Below are a few tips that you should consider.
Pick a Long-Range Goal that Inspires
Flesh out what your ultimate ambitions are and write them down. Make it inspirational for you and your employees. People love being part of a movement (“No Kid Hungry” is an example of a big promise that captures a vision of the future.)
Dangling a vision of the future in front of yourself and your workers will motivate everyone to work their butts off to get at it. You choose something that is just out of reach for you now because when you place that kind of goal in front of your team, your business changes. What was out of reach before the plan was in place will seem within reach after your staff is motivated to give their all helping you get there.
You just need to envision where your business should be and make others believe you have a way to get there. The most powerful movements in history are driven by leaders who have used this strategy.
Be Realistic and Plan Using Several Timeframes
Begin by dividing time into long, medium, near and short-term periods. Channeling your thinking into different time horizons will help your thinking, goals and vision. Next, create sketches for the longest time frames then a detailed plan for the next 12 months. [quotesright]This way of thinking helps you see the moves you will need to make over time that move you closer to the future you envision. [/quotesright]
[quotes]Don't pick goals that are so outrageous that it will appear you've been into the recreational pharmaceuticals.[/quotes] Make your imagined future, realistic and just beyond your reach at each stage.
Think carefully about each of the following and lay out your future:
- Where do you want to be in 20-30 years, in 10 years, in 5 years, in 3 years?
- What will your company look like?
- What will your life look like?
- What must happen in each period to set you up to reach your goals in the next one?
The further out the time frame, the bigger it will be and the less detail it will include; that’s OK. Until we get within three years, you don’t want to get too detailed. We can forecast the weather accurately over more than a few days so give yourself a break!
What you are doing is laying out a solid outline for your biography, your book, your journey if you will. [quotesright]You want each chapter to have an emotional impact on you and be something that will inspire your team. [/quotesright] (You won’t get there without emotional impact!) Sketch out what will happen at each waypoint over the timeframe as the hero (you) moves closer to your ultimate destination.
State things as though they have happened, are already accomplished. Make them real and personal for you and for the people who will invest their time and effort in getting you there.
Add Some Weight to the Goal, Make It Exciting, Saw When
If you pick a lofty goal and deliver a speech but don't have any passion or metrics for what you are going to accomplish, your vision will come across mushy and no one will get on board.
The more factual it is in big terms, the greater its power, and the more drama you put in how you present it, the more it will capture the hearts of your team.
[quotes]Numbers make it real. A high-impact presentation it makes it exciting and believable.[/quotes]
No one is going to believe in something that they can't see the end of, and you need to account for that in how you present your major goals. The fact that the timeframe or the numbers don’t turn out to be exactly on target is irrelevant – no one has a crystal ball! Just be realistic and lay out how you plan to get there and add some showmanship.
Lay out the three or five major objectives that are the essential things you must accomplish in each time period, the keystones you must add before you take the next step.
Note: It’s OK, even essential, to check your goals with key people in your company, such as your board and advisors to see if you missed something.
Start the Detail Planning - Don't Be a Loner
As you begin work on the 12-month plan, goals must be stated with crystal-like clarity, be achievable, time bounded and measurable so you know when each has been achieved [quotes]Note: Stir until done is not a destination you’ll ever reach.[/quotse]. This will help your team focus and help you dissect and plan for what it will take to achieve each objective.
[quotesright]Even if you're the head of your organization, don't try to do the plan on your own, no matter how smart you think you are. [/quotesright] Don't take this personally, but your goals and the strategies to achieve them affect many people.
[quotes]When they are drawn up in a vacuum, they will be lacking in one way or another. [/quotes] You need input from other intelligent people to find the best way to achieve your goals.
Now is when you want to get everyone involved in helping turn your vision into reality. People want to be involved, feel their voice has been heard and even if not acted on, at least heard. [quotesright]People who are involved are invested in the solution.[/quotesright] It’s your obligation to make your people part of the solution, not part of the problem!
Select a strategic planning team to meet twice a week and work on the fine details of your strategic plan. Make sure this group is involving all the people in the company in the process as far as practical; you really want people to be part of the solution.
Doing this will round out your plan and smooth those rough edges of your ambition. You absolutely want the to make it “Their Plan” so all take ownership of achieving it.
When you do this, you are going to be giving up a certain amount of your control. When you establish a strategic planning team, you need to trust the people you select to make their own decisions.
However, it is up to you to make sure your team knows the ground rules for developing the plan. Each strategy needed to accomplish a goal must:
- Be written,
- Be crystal clear,
- Be achievable,
- Have a timeframe it must occur in, and
- Have a way for its progress to be measured toward accomplishing your goal as well as a definition as to when that goal has been accomplished.
Don’t forget to make sure you develop a budget for the resources and people needed. (See SMART Goals)
[quotesright]You have the ultimate say but try and hold back on shutting down ideas that might not work. [/quotesright] If anything, you should encourage the ideas to be further developed, suggest ideas, and motivate your team to keep working hard. Encourage a healthy debate and compromise. You’ll be amazed at just how smart your people are.
Boil the Plan Down
You and your team need to refine the plan down to its essence if it is ever going to work. There can be no frills, no uncertainties, and no wordiness. Do your best to break the plan down to a point that it fits on one page. [quotes]You want bullet points not, the New York Library.[/quotes]
Of course, there are going to be a lot of things (budget, specifics, etc.) that can't fit onto a single page. We're talking the outline of the plan, with specific actions, boiled down and figuratively contained on one sheet of paper. If you can’t see the forest, you’ll be lost in the trees. Make it easy to see the whole picture.
When it happens it's a pretty good indication that your team knows how to work well together, and that the plan is going to work.
Allow Your Goals to Drive the Ideas
Establish a set of your company's core values and beliefs.
Over time, you hired new people, they took on new roles, the world changed, and things may be a little bit different. You might not have noticed that your values have shifted in one direction or another, but it's clear that the spirit of the business has evolved.
Sit down with your strategic planning team and identify the business' new core values. Write out what it would mean for those values to manifest through your business, and what the scenario would look like if you fully committed to, say, customer service.
[quotes]Let those ideas fuel the discussion on your core values and beliefs.[/quotes] If your current goals don't line up with the new goals that reflect your values, you should consider where the disconnect is. Maybe your ambitions don't reflect your values. Maybe there's an option to make a compromise between customer service and a $50 million year?
Determine what cultural changes will be needed as your values and beliefs evolve.
Whatever it is that you do, make sure that you do it collaboratively. There's no good in doing something alone and then imposing your ideas onto the people you work with. [quotesright]No one will be happy with that, and the plan won't even make it past the first two weeks. [/quotesright]
Achieve Your Goals
Nobody does it all on their own. People go their entire lives without seeing any growth because they're too proud, arrogant or stubborn to ask for help.
If you’d like to have help in setting your goals and achieving them, we’re experts who can help. USA: 877.433.6225 firstname.lastname@example.org