Permalink to Strategic Planning – Less is More

Strategic Planning – Less is More

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains”.
Steve Jobs

Strategic Planning is bedeviled by ideas, models, silver bullets, pixie dust and answers to all that ails us. Most of it ends up confusing us, overloading our thinking and diverting us from what’s important. So, what are we to do? Remove stuff and trim to the essence.

Try these simple rules:

Three and No more

Three goals with three supporting objectives under each, and no more. Three goals seem to be a manageable number. Of course, each goal needs several work packages or objectives and again three seems a reasonable aspiration; each of the three objectives will require multiple action plans or projects to make it successful.

The mathematics can become daunting very quickly: three goals x three objectives = nine objectives. Each of the nine objectives may have five or more projects. Before you know it, you have 3x3x5 = 45 projects to accomplish the plan.

I know three goals and three objectives per goal seems constraining, and it’s meant to be. Overloading plans with too much activity is one of the biggest faults I see with strategic plans. It’s no wonder many plans don’t get completed.

The Simpler, the Better

If you come back to your plan two weeks later and you don’t understand every word, every acronym, every concept, it’s too complicated. Keep It Simple!

Work the Plan

Over the years we’ve seen many ‘credenza creatures’, unloved and unused, sitting quietly gathering dust. If you are going put the time and energy into creating a plan, use it and make it a vital part of managing your business or not-for-profit.

Permalink to Strategic Planning – Why Plan?

Strategic Planning – Why Plan?

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”. Winston Churchill

Why Plan?

Well, this is true of strategic planning. Managing by whim or wish may sound attractive, but keeping a company or not-for-profit heading in the right direction requires more than guesswork and no better mechanism than strategic planning has been offered for trying to order the future.

Managing any kind of enterprise requires placing bets about the future. What do we believe is going to happen in the economy, with our competitors and with our customers? What should we do to build our service line? How will we focus all our people on the direction and goal we need to attain?

Strategic planning, conducted right, should answer these and many other questions.

Planning is about change

At its heart, strategic planning is about stating what needs to be changed in an organization. Generally, these changes are in response to opportunities or threats in the environment or market.

A strategic plan should contain the best thinking by the best minds in the organization and sometimes from outside the organization. It should describe the judgements those people are making about how to invest the limited and valuable resources the business has on activities that will bring the greatest return for the organization.

This is all about changing key components of the organization in some deliberate way.

Planning is about a path out of confusion

The hurly-burly of daily life can be confusing in a busy enterprise. New opportunities present themselves and leaders must decide how to react. Communication must be effective and priorities must be clear. The strategic plan provides a great vehicle for communicating what’s important. It also offers a mechanism for assessing progress.

A well-crafted and well-written plan can become the rallying cry for an organization. Like the flag carried into battle, it can be the focal point of the business’s ambitions and a mechanism for telling how well the battle is going.

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