Imag­ine you’re some­where in South Amer­i­ca.  It’s swampy, the ground sog­gy and slop­py, your foot­ing unsure.  The air is thick with mois­ture, and the heat hangs as heav­i­ly on you as a water-soaked com­forter.  You’re alone, with just your sens­es and a few nav­i­ga­tion­al tools. 


Budgeting & ForecastingWhat’s your next move?  Will you take some time to fig­ure out where you are, and then cre­ate a plan to work your way to safe­ty, or will you sim­ply start walk­ing?  Will you set off with a pur­pose and a strong sense of direc­tion, or will you sim­ply start won­der­ing through the jun­gle, expend­ing a lot of ener­gy, with no real mea­sure of your progress?


The most com­mon response I get to this ques­tion is: “Well of course I would fig­ure out where I am, and then fig­ure out what I need to do to get to where I want to (or need to) be, and then move for­ward from there.  I would nev­er just wan­der around the jun­gle and hope to get lucky.”


So, why as business leaders are we not doing what we know we need to do? 


Only 23% of com­pa­nies use a for­mal strate­gic plan (or map) to make impor­tant busi­ness defin­ing deci­sions.” accord­ing to McK­in­sey & Com­pa­ny, a lead­ing busi­ness con­sult­ing firm. Run­ning your busi­ness with­out a sol­id, action­able strate­gic plan or map is like wan­der­ing around the jun­gle hop­ing to find a vil­lage. It’s time to Stop The Insan­i­ty! (thank you Susan Powter)


Now is the time to define your future, empow­er your employ­ees, and set your busi­ness free.



3 Tips for Creating A Successful Strategic Plan or Map.


Plan vs. Map –Choose The Best Approach for You and Your Organization 

A plan defines what you believe to be the best pos­si­ble way for you to achieve your objec­tives and goals.  A map defines more than one pos­si­ble way to accom­plish your objec­tives and goals.  A map also allows you to fac­tor in future changes and how they might effect your busi­ness.  If this hap­pens, then these options make more sense…  Some groups work bet­ter when only one path is being fol­lowed, oth­er groups work bet­ter when more pos­si­bil­i­ties are con­sid­ered.  Think about your team and how they pre­fer to work, then choose the for­mat that’s best for you.


Push For Action Not Action Items

80% of all the strate­gic plans I see are noth­ing more than glo­ri­fied to-do lists.  John will do this task by this date.  This is NOT a strate­gic plan.  Not even close.  15% are some lofty piece of poet­ry that’s bet­ter suit­ed for mar­ble carv­ing than dri­ving a busi­ness.  We exist in order to cre­ate a bet­ter world, to bring peace to all human­i­ty, and so on.  No.  This isn’t a strate­gic plan either.  And then, there are the few rare pieces of work that deliv­er what a strate­gic plan is meant to deliv­er – a clear action-based approach for grow­ing your busi­ness.  A suc­cess­ful strate­gic plan/map will define actions than must take place in order for your objec­tives to be achieved.  And, each objec­tive will link back to your mis­sion or vision.  If yours doesn’t, keep work­ing it until it does.


Create It AND Communicate It…Over, and Over, and Over

Many com­pa­nies work to cre­ate plans, right or wrong, they cre­ate them.  Pay­ing a lot of mon­ey, and invest­ing a lot of time and resources along the way.  Then, they take their new plans and stick them into a binder, and stuff ‘em on a shelf – not to be seen again until the next annu­al plan­ning ses­sion.  Good strate­gic plans will help guide and empow­er your team to achieve your goals.  They will be used and ref­er­enced often.  Be sure every­one under­stands your plan, what it com­mu­ni­cates, and that they have your per­mis­sion to put it to good use. 


Strate­gic plans or maps can be one of your most effec­tive busi­ness lead­er­ship tools.  Push­ing a strat­e­gy for­ward is a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s a process, and it will evolve and change over time.  Keep your plan/map out.  Use it.  Check impor­tant busi­ness deci­sions against it to make sure they hold up.  Dri­ve account­abil­i­ty and per­for­mance with it.  Embrace it, and its dynam­ic nature.  Your busi­ness is always chang­ing, it only makes sense that your plan for grow­ing and dri­ving your busi­ness will be always be chang­ing too.