Does strategic planning work?

 

How else will you focus your future direction, more coffee won’t cut it?

 

Why take unnecessary risks with your future, put some time into it.

Planning is the most important activity for your business. It keeps your focus razor sharp and helps use your time wisely to complete the projects and initiatives to propel you into the future you want.

Unfortunately, too few small organisations participate in any planning processes. However, you will find many of the guiding principles can be easily adjusted and applied to suit your organisation. Planning terms can mean very different things depending on each person’s experiences.

One of the key drivers on improved planning practices has been the finance industry. The insist on seeing a business plan before any lending takes place. Mind you many have little planning experience, particularly in the small enterprise space.

The key benefits of strategic planning include?

  • It is a process for clarifying the purpose and vision of the enterprise.
  • It keeps organisation development consistent with the purpose and vision.
  • It helps to efficiently and effectively manage resources and opportunities.
  • Growth and profit improvements are focused on the sustainability of the enterprise.
  • Provides people with a better opportunity to understand and improve the enterprise.

 What strategic planning won’t do

  • Provide all of the details that people might be looking for.
  • Eliminate the need for short, medium-term planning.
  • Eliminate the need for staff and planning meetings and retreats.
  • Foresee every possibility, every risk and every opportunity.

 

“Strategic planning is about accurately picturing your desired future and developing the necessary strategies and operations to ensure you achieve that future”. Peter Sergeant

 

A strategic planning structure

Most people are familiar with planning and the labels that are used to quickly identify and separate information during the process. However, being familiar with and actually performing key business development planning is quite different. A planning facilitator can make a big difference to the outcomes.

 A simple graphic of how the bits fit and relate to each other.

 

A strategic planning starting point

Keep things simple. Start by setting your objectives. We call this the ‘pivot point’ as it is easily understood by everyone. You can then move either way to the most difficult parts of the purpose, vision, and mission or the doing parts of strategies and actions.

Use the one-page plan to simplify your initial efforts and to help you understand the business planning journey. See tools for a one-page plan template.

Unfortunately, the business planning dilemma is ongoing in most businesses. There is a lack of understanding of planning and planning processes. This results in being disorganised and unfocused.

Distractions, interruptions and unplanned requests of others create competing priorities for your time and the way you go about planning.

Sadly, the misaligned with planning activities leaves the most critical business growth, profitability and sustainability issues and activities unplanned, unfinished, and poorly executed.

Spending time refining the key elements of your business is a fast track to success and the planning function is critical if you want faster, easier and better outcomes.

 

 

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Personal Experience:

Boy, have I had trouble explaining planning terminology over the years, even to corporations and governments. However, in the last two decades, the terminology has become much clearer for everyone.

If you are still frustrated with the terminology and the outcomes from your previous business planning efforts? Don’t worry you are not alone, you never went into business to write business plans.

I have found that those businesses who engage an experienced facilitator, finish up with the best outcomes. The facilitator needs to be external to the business and doesn’t necessarily need experience in your particular industry. What the facilitator must have is a sound understanding of the processes involved and know to prepare and conduct an effective meeting.

Active, ongoing planning practices will at sometimes utilise one or more of the following documents:

  • One-Page Business Plan – If the task of creating a Business Plan is daunting, or you have difficulty finding the time to put into planning, the one-page plan could be your answer? The one-page plan can act as a quick reference, in presentations to investors and others when you are developing various aspects of your
  • Strategic Plan –Your strategic plan provides the direction and framework for decision-making. It keeps you focused and on the important things to be done.
  • Operating Plan – The operating plan covers the details of each of the key functions of the business, leave one out and the business could be at risk.
  • Business Plan. This is the term more commonly used by small businesses. It encompasses both the strategic and operational aspects of the business. Both are usually combined into one document.
  • Business Model – This shows how the business works in order to produce the desired revenue. A good business model works well all day, every day and a good business plan should articulate just how it works and who is involved.
  • Risk Management Plan – This is often overlooked until it is too late. There will always be risks and mistakes made, but they can be minimised with a Risk Management Plan.
  • Value chain – The value chain sets out the people, organisations, and operations that are going to help you to grow a profitable and sustainable business.
  • Succession Plan – This document has two key aspects. Management succession and business succession. Both are very relevant for small business but are rarely utilised although the subject is extensively discussed, over and over.

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