Most strategic plans are neither plans nor strategic. Most people have dreams instead of plans. Their target is so big and their arrow is so small that no one knows that they are even in business. And I admit, with frustration, that the line between daydreams and vision is often hard to determine.
There are 4 arrows to test and refine your first draft of a Strategic Plan.
- Can you tell me the mission and strategic objectives from memory? If you can’t remember the core of your strategic plan, then you have either a dream or a problem. How can you achieve goals that you can’t remember?
- John and Miriam Carver ask three things about the mission statement
- Who benefits?
- With what results?
- At what cost?
Very helpful questions that test the clarity of your mission statement. For example, different hotel brands know who may benefit from their hotel. Some hotels are for conventions, some for business, some for economy, some for vacation luxury, some for families. Motel 6 and the Intercontinental both understand who benefits from their unique approach. You are never going to arrange a board meeting at Motel 6.
Similarly, the focus of the mission statement should be on intentional results that can be measured. It’s easy to focus on activities but missions that actually work change something in our world. Denny’s does not serve food. Denny’s provides a comfortable experience for people who watch their cash. The focus is on the results.
- Roger Martin and Lafley tell us to focus the mission statement only in areas where we are determined to be the best. Just like in war, there’s no prize for 2nd place. Let’s say that your business is to build a hotel that targets business meetings to make them effective and comfortable.
Suddenly, you notice that Marriott will be a competitor and they have enough money to keep competing until they kill you. What’s the answer? Find a niche where you can be the best and succeed. In my example, you might discover a city where flea market owners get training to display and sell. As you can imagine, they will look for a low price for their business meeting. They need a Motel 6 bed with a simple meeting room and sandwich catering from a nearby restaurant. Marriott will never compete for that business and you can build your hotel and win.
- Scaling Up is all about taking the mission and strategic objectives and creating daily quick meetings where everyone says what they will do in the next 24 hours to achieve the mission and strategic objectives.
Implementation is just as important as clarity of mission. If your company does strategic plans once a year and then files them, you will never get to where you want to go. Strategic plans are always difficult. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are taking nootropic drugs and strategies to think faster and stay awake longer. Their plans are difficult to achieve.
John Maxwell says that some people see great success for a while with little effort. He calls it surfing the wave back to the shore. The strategic plan involves working every day to swim out to where the wave started.
Your first draft of a strategic plan and the mission statement cannot be 100% perfect. Consultants don’t necessarily help. I was part of an expensive consulting process that led to a lengthy strategic plan mission statement that promised vague results to the entire world. As you might imagine, its 10 years later and the plan is mentioned at formal business meetings once a year. The impact? – Zero.
One way to succeed is to start with what you have and look for ways to test and refine. Four arrows which may help are
- Can you remember your plan?
- Carver – Who benefits? What results? What cost?
- Lafley and Martin – What mission will win over all competition?
- Harnish – What strategic objectives can be worked on daily until you win?
And the time to start aiming at the bullseye……. is – Today !
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Carver, John, and Miriam Mayhew. Carver. Implementing Policy Governance and Staying on Track: A Carver Policy Governance Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.
Harnish, Verne. Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Lafley, A. G., and Roger L. Martin. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Maxwell, John C. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping-stones for Success. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2000. Print.