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.
What’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.