Do your strategic planning sessions look like this: an offsite with your team once a year to think about the big picture and share dreams, which is then summarized and put into a pile never to be looked at again? Strategic planning… ✓ done! Think back to your strategic planning session last year. How often did you refer to that document to stay on track throughout 2019? Is it currently gathering dust on your shelf or stored untouched in a file?
It’s time to reevaluate how we define “strategic planning.” To succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, your organization must be proactive and aligned for success. Thinking strategically is essential for creating realistic goals that will lead you to the long term vision you have for your company. BUT, you must also plan a course of action in accordance with your goals and hold yourself accountable to reaching them.
Redefine the strategic planning process to strategic thinking and execution planning. With your goals guiding you towards the results you have in mind for your business, identify individuals who will “own” specific actions within a specific timeframe to get you there. Execution plans should answer the question: “Who’s going to do what by when?” Create clear steps that will ultimately lead to reaching your goals.
How to improve your strategic thinking:
Think long-term first and work backwards:
Start the goal-setting process by dreaming about the future. Where do you want to see your business in 10 years? Create a clear vision of what you want to accomplish by 2030, and don’t be afraid to think big. Next, break your 10-year goal down to what you want to accomplish in three years that will get you a quarter of your way to your big future goal. From there, break that 3-year goal down by what you need to accomplish in 2020 to stay on track.
Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, with a defined timeframe):
To properly execute your goals and priorities for the year, be sure they are S.M.A.R.T. Define critical dates and benchmarks each quarter (or even each month) to stay on track. Measure success by creating quarterly revenue, profit, margin, or new customer goals. Identify specific actions and timelines needed to complete your goals.
Write your goals on paper and place them where you can see them every day:
A study by Dominican University in California found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down regularly. The likelihood you’ll transform your desires into reality increases even further if you share your written goals with individuals who believe in your ability to succeed. Work with your team to develop individual and company-wide goals, and be sure to write them down and share them. Review your goals weekly and monthly to ensure that you are on track with your actions.
How to improve your annual plan’s execution:
Define clear priorities:
Are you the type of business owner or executive who says yes to everything? Not everything can be a priority. When you say “yes” and dedicate your time to a task, you are saying “no” to giving your attention to something that may be more important. Work to make the right decisions with your time and focus. Identify three priorities that must be focused on to achieve success each quarter and eliminate all other distractions. Delegate what is less important.
Every person in your business should have a clear 90-day action plan:
Ensure that every team member has a 90-day action plan with clear outcomes they are responsible for. Create clear steps that will ultimately lead to reaching your annual goals and outline key actions, benchmarks and timelines for the upcoming quarter.
Create a culture of accountability:
Your team depends on you (as you depend on your team) to follow through on your 90-day action plan. Accountability ensures follow-through. To create a culture of accountability, consider having weekly or bi-weekly meetings where each person gives an update on their action plan. When a team member gives their update, use green, yellow and red to describe the status:
- Green = I am on track
- Yellow = I am a little behind and here are the actions I am taking to get caught up
- Red = There is no way I am going to hit this date. I need help, and how can I adjust my timeframe?
Measuring progress always helps with accountability. This is not micromanagement, this is good management. Remember that progress is more than just results – it involves the actions you take daily that create the results.
As we make our way through the fourth quarter, it’s time to start planning for 2020. This upcoming year, improve your strategic planning with strategic thinking and execution planning! Need an expert facilitator to help you stay on track and steer you in the right direction? Our Certified AddingZEROS Facilitators will not only lead you through thinking long term, but they will ensure you and your team have a clear action plan for implementation.
To book your Strategic Thinking an Execution Planning session, contact me today. Hurry, schedules are filling up!