What’s All The Fuss About Strategic Planning?

Dan Valdez

Dan Valdez

by Dan Valdez, Partner, Enterprise Builders LLC

“Well, it’s the first of the New Year and I guess we have to make some plans”. Ever say that or hear it said by someone in your organization? It just seems like the right thing to do. But where do we begin? This could be an exercise that might just waste time. We probably won’t pay any attention to the plan after a few weeks anyway.

On the other hand, no plan is a plan to nowhere! Besides, is it not easier to work when you know at the start of every day what you are supposed to be working on and what result you expect to realize? Of course!

So back to the original question; where do we begin? Well, first of all, someone has to take responsibility for leading the development of the plan. You may be the whole team in one person, or you may have other people involved. Either way, one person has to take responsibility.

The first question is, knowing the past year or several years, what could I (we) do this year that could make the greatest impact on our success? The answer may involve sales expansion, people training, administrative organization or something else. Just be sure that whatever you choose to focus on will actually make the greatest impact on your success as an individual, a department or as a company. Brainstorm to discover as many possible focal points as you can. Once you have a set of possibilities, start narrowing your list down to the one and only, most important and vital issue.

Once you get to the issue, the next step is to brainstorm all the possible factors to consider in your plan. All the possible accomplishments, all the downsides and vulnerabilities to the plan, all the resources needed to complete the plan, all the tasks involved, all the ways to measure progress, who all will be responsible to monitor the parts of the plan, who will be assigned to orchestrate the different parts of the plan, when will progress be studied and corrections made to the course the plan should follow. Everything that is necessary to consider making the plan work!

Importantly, be sure the ideas are written and the progress in the development of the plan is in writing for future reference. If you are doing this planning alone, don’t. Ask someone you respect to help you by being the devil’s advocate as well as your cheerleader. Listen to their advice and incorporate it within the plan.

Pick a date to commence your plan and be ready to know Step 1 and Step 2, etc. Communicate your plan to others who are either involved or are affected by your plan. Go get FIVE mentors. Show your plan to the first of these mentors and listen to their advice. Change or correct the plan and then take the revised plan to the second mentor. Do the same thing until you have communicated with all five. By then, the plan will be perfect and you will believe in it. Now you are ready to commit to it and drive it to success. Make a pledge with yourself that you will stick with it. You can do that by creating a habit of reading your plan at least once a week and adding to it constantly. In other words, keep working the plan and refuse to accept discouragement.

You will find yourself creating new habits and this is a good thing. You will also find yourself growing and developing a new set of skills. For sure you will have more confidence in yourself and trust me, everyone around you will notice and admire your success.

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