Small businesses can benefit from an annual strategic planning session to help focus the company’s resources and efforts. Planning isn’t fun or easy but can be the difference in remaining a successful or viable company in a rapidly changing world!
CEO Partners believes the best method to develop a Strategic Plan is to utilize a facilitator to drive the process. This allows the business owner to participate, not lead. It integrates the business owner’s ideas without stifling input from other participants.
Strategic Planning: The First Steps
Strategic planning requires a time commitment. Plan on at least two full days for your planning. Do the planning sessions offsite from the company’s offices. The participants should understand they are there to work on the company’s future. Distractions from the day-to-day aspects of managing the business need to be minimized.
The key members in the company’s organization chart need to be included in the strategic planning sessions. Anyone who will have significant implementation responsibilities for the decisions made during the planning session needs to participate. However, try to limit the number of participants to no more than ten people.
Prior to the initial planning a comprehensive homework assignment is distributed to the planning team participants addressing the following topics.
- Business Mission/Definition/Overview: The intent is to gain an understanding if the management team is cohesive in their understanding of the company’s business and its reason for existence.
- Business Vision: The intent is to gain an understanding of the management team’s perspective on where the company is going.
- External Environment Analysis: The purpose is to solicit input on the opportunities and threats that exist in the marketplace, including the perceived impact the competition can have on the company.
- Internal Environment Analysis: The aim is to solicit input on the strengths and weaknesses of the company, including those operational aspects that are deterring the company from being more successful.
The homework assignments are returned to the facilitator approximately one week prior to the first formal session. A summary of all participant comments is prepared for presentation at the first meeting.
During the first meeting the team is required to develop, review and/or revise the company’s mission statement. This exercise gets everyone involved in the planning process and helps the participants to clearly understand why the company exists.
Next, the planning team is required to review the homework assignment dealing with the vision for the company in three to five years. Many common elements will surface; however, the divergent viewpoints regarding where the company intends to go and what it intends to become need to be reconciled. The purpose is to reach agreement on where the company is headed.
The balance of the first day is devoted to identifying the opportunities and problems that the company would like to address. No company has sufficient resources to address all its challenges and opportunities. Priorities need to be established. The objective is to identify no more than five or six priority areas that the company should address in the coming year. These should be the highest impact activities that if addressed will have the greatest positive results for the company.
The second day of the strategic planning process is devoted to setting goals and devising solutions/strategies/tactics for addressing the priority challenges and opportunities. Specific action plans, timeframes and responsibilities are assigned for each goal.
The last aspect of the planning effort is to set a review process in place to track the planning teams progress in achieving the priority goals.
The last aspect of the planning effort is to set a review process in place to track the planning team’s progress in achieving priority goals. CEO Partners has established a partner relationship with achieveit to assist its strategic planning clients with an easy to use and highly effective tool to insure work outlined in the plan is implemented. Achieveit is a unique, cloud-based software platform that facilitates planning results management by helping companies structure what needs to be done. It also automates data collection from people and systems and allows key decision makers to visualize information and determine plan course corrections. All CEO Partners clients are eligible for a 15% discount off achieveit’s pricing. Call CEO Partners to arrange a demo of the product!
For more information on our Strategic Planning Services for firms in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond, please contact us today!