Archive for the ‘Strategy Implementation’ Category

Jump Starting Good Opportunity Ideas

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Note: This article was originally printed in Compass Points November 2006

By Thomas E. Ambler, Senior Consultant

No one knows better than you that your markets are not what they used to be. They are undergoing an accelerating shift on what and where customers place value and who in the supply chain makes the best profits. Your ”sweet spot” isn’t nearly as sweet as it was not all that long ago. What you considered ”good business” yesterday has lost much of its glitter. As a result, you seek a dynamically changing portfolio of new market opportunities that will assure that you transform today’s Core Business into the best possible Core Business for tomorrow.

You want to pursue these Market Opportunities to the point where you can make a wise go/no go decision. The continual search for new Market Opportunities that are ”good business” consists of two distinct phases as diagrammed in Figure 1 below—the Opportunity Idea Generation Phase and the Opportunity Development Phase.

Both Phases require Opportunity Screening.  Business literature related to innovation offers a number of Opportunity Screening devices, but none are better than the general-purpose Market Opportunity Screen taken from our Simplified Strategic Planning process1. Based on sound new product/market launch research by MSU Professor Frank Bacon, it can be used as the screen for go/no go decisions at all stages in the development of an opportunity.

Once an opportunity begins to take structure in Phase 2, we know pretty well how to deal with it. The bigger challenge lies in Phase 1. How do we generate ideas for ”good business” in the first place?

Generation of ”good” opportunity ideas requires instituting a systematic, common sense process that ferrets out possibilities, a culture that fosters a willingness to fail, a recruiting method that seeks curious, intelligent, open-minded associates and a work ethic that just won’t stop.

Fundamentally, a ”good” opportunity is one that (a) fits with who you want to become as a company, (b) involves an attractive market and (c) takes advantage of a competitive opening.

Figure 2 below, the OPPORTUNITY IDEA GENERATION CHECKLIST, is a very useful checklist of mind joggers and idea starters for Market Opportunities. It incorporates the three ”good” opportunity criteria and is derived primarily from the Market Opportunity Screening Worksheet used in the Simplified Strategic Planning Process.

What other idea starters have you found useful? Share them on the author’s blog site, http://strategy–thehighroad.blogspot.com or email them to ambler@cssp.com.

Jump-start your opportunity brainstorming sessions. Try out some of these idea starters.  If you want even more idea starters, take a look at the references below.  May you generate lots of Good Ideas that lead to Great Execution!

References
1. Robert W. Bradford and J. Peter Duncan with Brian Tarcy, Simplified Strategic Planning: A No-Nonsense Guide For Busy People Who Want Results Fast, (Worcester, MA: Chandler House Press, 2000)

2. T. E. Ambler, ”The Pursuit of Good Business,” Compass Points (October 2003)(available from the Article Archives of www.strategyletter.com)

For information on how to take your strategic planning to the next level, please listen to our webinar: Why Isn’t My Strategic Planning Working?

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Tom Ambler is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at ambler@cssp.com

Implementation Advantage – Part 5

Friday, June 24th, 2016

By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

Note: This article was originally posted in Compass Points in May 2006.  We are discussing the root causes of poor implementation in a series of posts.  Part 5 covers the fifth root cause of poor implementation.

The plan attempts too much too quickly

This is probably the second most common issue, and, as we said, sometimes difficult to distinguish from issue 3 (The implementation is given insufficient resources). As managers, and as teams, we all seem to have eyes that are much bigger than our stomachs. If five objectives are good, ten must be better, right?

Well, wrong… ten objectives are almost always worse, from an implementation perspective, than five. There are two key reasons for this. First, we psychologically tend to focus more on items when they are limited in quantity. Everyone in your company is likely to know your company’s objectives if you only have four or five. If you have forty-two (we call this a “laundry list”), chances are no one will know most of them, and few will even care. This is not because your employees are bad – rather, it’s because it’s not humanly possible for a group of people to remember and properly prioritize forty-two objectives.

The solution for this issue is simple, but often difficult. Don’t let yourself tackle more objectives than you can handle. If you had trouble with nine last year, try seven this year. In our experience, implementation is optimized somewhere between five and ten objectives, depending on the organization, its culture and resources.

In the past few posts, we have discussed just a few of the most common implementation issues we run into in our work as strategy consultants, assisting companies like your own in strategic planning. It’s not exhaustive, but hopefully, as you get out your plans for this year, you will think about taking some of the steps outlined here to improve your implementation.

Is your company having a hard time implementing your strategic plan?  Let us know how you are dealing with it – or, better yet, attend our amazing, data-driven workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn how to develop and implement your strategic plan.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  Please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

Implementation Advantage – Part 4

Friday, June 17th, 2016

By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Note: This article was originally posted in Compass Points in May 2006.  We are discussing the root causes of poor implementation in a series of posts.  Part 4 covers the fourth root cause of poor implementation.

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

Managers change their objectives too quickly

In some companies, the main strategy implementation amounts to a kind of corporate “short attention span”.  Many of these companies don’t make much headway in their strategy implementation because they are never heading in one direction long enough for the strategy to pick up steam.

A common symptom of this implementation issue is a company that seems to be perpetually in the middle of dramatic changes. In a company with a sound, consistent strategy, change is occurring, but change tends to flow around the strategy, because the strategy represents a stable, unchanging reality, such as “Starbucks customers like good coffee in a good environment”.

Another symptom is the classic “flavor of the month” syndrome, where the company shifts direction every month or two based upon the viewpoint of the management guru that is currently in favor with the top executives. This is a dangerous problem, as many of today’s management gurus espouse strategic outlooks that are diametrically opposed. For example, “The Experience Economy” espouses a strong, service-centered specialty strategy, while “Nuts!” centers on a focused commodity strategy. You might succeed in shoehorning both of these outlooks into one company, but you are just as likely to end up with a train wreck.

The annual planning process, and strict discipline around that process, is the best antidote we know to “short attention span”. The key here is to make sure you have sound strategic reasons for every change you make in your objectives (and no, “there’s a lot of money to be made” is NOT a sound strategic reason). Likewise, test every change against the wisdom that is inherent in your own strategy. If it fits, great – but when it doesn’t, be very wary of making changes because of small, temporary changes in your marketplace or (worse) your reading list.

In the upcoming weeks, we will discuss other root causes of poor implementation.

Is your company having a hard time implementing your strategic plan?  Let us know how you are dealing with it – or, better yet, attend our amazing, data-driven workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn how to develop and implement your strategic plan.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  Please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

Implementation Advantage – Part 3

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Note: This article was originally posted in Compass Points in May 2006.  We are discussing the root causes of poor implementation in a series of posts.  Part 3 covers the third root cause of poor implementation.

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

The implementation lacks follow-through

Sometimes, we see companies that do a decent job of linking their strategies to objectives and action plans, but still lose steam in the implementation part of the planning cycle. A lack of follow-through is one of the most common causes of this “petering out”.

The best indication of poor follow-through is action plans that haven’t been updated since the plan was completed, or perhaps a month or two afterwards. The team set up their implementation plans with good intentions, but then dropped the ball as more urgent activities drove strategy implementation out of their minds. This is common because the very best strategies are never urgent – they are undertaken well ahead of time, because time and money can usually be traded off in strategy implementation. Companies that choose to spend time when they have it – even when the strategic initiative is not urgent – are almost always more efficient.

To remedy the lack of follow-through requires commitment from the highest level of the management team. If the owner, president, or CEO insists upon a serious, routine periodic review of progress on strategy implementation, it is highly unlikely that your company will drop the ball. Practically speaking, this means you must keep to the monthly monitoring process that we outline in the Simplified Strategic Planning seminar and manual.

In the upcoming weeks, we will discuss other root causes of poor implementation.

Is your company having a hard time implementing your strategic plan?  Let us know how you are dealing with it – or, better yet, attend our amazing, data-driven workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn how to develop and implement your strategic plan.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  Please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

Implementation Advantage – Part 2

Friday, May 27th, 2016

By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Note: This article was originally posted in Compass Points in May 2006.  We are discussing the root causes of poor implementation in a series of posts.  Part 2 covers the second root cause of poor implementation.

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

The implementation lacks follow-through

Sometimes, we see companies that do a decent job of linking their strategies to objectives and action plans, but still lose steam in the implementation part of the planning cycle. A lack of follow-through is one of the most common causes of this “petering out”.

The best indication of poor follow-through is action plans that haven’t been updated since the plan was completed, or perhaps a month or two afterwards. The team set up their implementation plans with good intentions, but then dropped the ball as more urgent activities drove strategy implementation out of their minds. This is common because the very best strategies are never urgent – they are undertaken well ahead of time, because time and money can usually be traded off in strategy implementation. Companies that choose to spend time when they have it – even when the strategic initiative is not urgent – are almost always more efficient.

To remedy the lack of follow-through requires commitment from the highest level of the management team. If the owner, president, or CEO insists upon a serious, routine periodic review of progress on strategy implementation, it is highly unlikely that your company will drop the ball. Practically speaking, this means you must keep to the monthly monitoring process that we outline in the Simplified Strategic Planning seminar and manual.

In the upcoming weeks, we will discuss other root causes of poor implementation.

Is your company having a hard time implementing your strategic plan?  Let us know how you are dealing with it – or, better yet, attend our amazing, data-driven workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn how to develop and implement your strategic plan.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  Please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

Implementation Advantage – Part 1

Friday, May 13th, 2016

By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Note: This article was originally posted in Compass Points in May 2006.  Part 1 introduces the article and the first root cause of poor implementation.

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

In our strategic planning work, we often work with companies who have tried strategic planning before. Almost inevitably, the companies we meet were disappointed in the results they got before using Simplified Strategic Planning. While some of these disappointments can be attributed to poor strategy or process issues, many – perhaps a third – were disappointed because the plan failed to lead to good implementation of the strategy.

This is a shame, because your management team puts some of its best thinking into your strategic plans. Often, the team is quite excited about the vision portrayed by your strategies. So, how is it that strategic plans are so often poorly implemented?

In our experience, there are five main root causes of poor implementation. Some of these are very closely linked to each other – that is, it’s common to see pairs of this issue operating in tandem. But, ultimately, each of these items, by itself, can torpedo your strategy implementation:

  1. The plan is not linked to implementation
  2. The implementation lacks follow-through
  3. The implementation is given insufficient resources
  4. Managers change their objectives too quickly
  5. The plan attempts too much too quickly

Let’s examine each of these issues, and how to mitigate its negative effects on strategy implementation at your company.

  1. The plan is not linked to implementation

This one is unfortunately, very common. In many cases, the plan’s issues can be traced back to a consultant who wanted to sell each step of the implementation as a separate service, but sometimes, it arises from sheer ignorance of the pitfalls of strategic planning. Many people who attempt strategic planning for the first time assume that once the strategies are written down, the organization has a plan. In a sense, this is true – written strategies are, technically, a plan. Writing your vision down, however, doesn’t guarantee that it will come to pass. If it did, we’d all be living in the utopia of the mission statements most of us labored over in the 1980s and 1990s.

The clearest symptom that a plan isn’t linked to implementation is an absence of clear, measurable objectives and related action plans that define, at a fairly low level, who is going to do what, when, how much it will cost and when it will happen. Sometimes this happens when the process stops after identifying strategies and goals, and sometimes the objectives are set, but no action plans are created (often because there are just too many objectives).

The simplest remedy for this problem, of course, is to follow a process that drives implementation by progressing beyond strategies and goals to measurable objectives and appropriate strategic-level action plans. Yes, this takes more time than the cheap and cheerful one- or two-day retreat that a lot of companies seem to like, but it has such a profound impact on the results generated by the plan that it is time well spent.

In the upcoming weeks, we will discuss other root causes of poor implementation.

Is your company having a hard time implementing your strategic plan?  Let us know how you are dealing with it – or, better yet, attend our amazing, data-driven workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn how to develop and implement your strategic plan.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  Please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.
© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

Communicating Your Strategic Plan With Employees – Part Two

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

This article was originally posted in Course and Direction May 2004 and this is Part Two of that article.

It’s critically important that employees understand your strategy. Employees who understand your strategy will be able to make better day-to-day decisions that will support your vision. But, while most of us understand this – at least intellectually – we often have difficulty effectively communicating our strategies to people outside of the strategic planning team. This may be especially difficult if you feel that parts of your strategy are sensitive and should not be shared with people outside of your management team. In addition, it may be undesirable to load employees with the task of thoroughly understanding all of your strategic planning documents when many employees only touch on one small operational area. How can we reconcile these difficulties?   In Part One of this article, we covered three ways to better communicate your strategy.

Here are a few additional tips that will help you communicate your strategy more effectively:

  1. Use a few defined categories:You will lose a little detail by having five market segments rather than ten. What you will gain is a framework that your employees can and will remember – which means they are more likely to use it in their day-to-day thinking, as well. Remember, one of the key reasons why you are communicating your strategy with your employees is that they will, in fact, have to support it with their actions. Employees who can’t remember your strategy because it is too complex certainly will have difficulty supporting your strategy.
  2. Say what you don’t do:Don’t give a lengthy list of good intentions. Instead of defining strategy in terms of the obvious, cut to the chase and let your people know the things your company isn’t going to do. It may be harder to come up with, but it will give a much clearer sense of your strategy, faster. Many companies use the “good intention laundry list” to avoid admitting that they haven’t made any real decisions – and their employees know it. It’s a very good idea to let your people know your strategic focus in clear, unambiguous language.
  3. Make the difference between you and your competitors clear:If your strategy doesn’t set you apart from the competition, it won’t work – so make sure your employees understand how they can help put some teeth into your differentiation. This is especially important for your people in sales. Knowing that your company has clear points of distinction from competitors will also help your employees to be proud of who you are.
  4. Limit yourself:Don’t try to list everything you can do or should do – define your strategy in terms of a simple vision with a limited number of objectives. Companies that set themselves more than 10 objectives tend to do far worse on implementation, and in fact many companies should have only five or six objectives. Not only won’t you be in danger of running out of things to do – you are also unlikely to ever hear the complaint that your strategy was too clear.
  5. Make objectives concrete and measurable:Vague objectives may make your management team comfortable by giving them “wiggle room”, but concrete, measurable objectives with deadline dates are better for quickly clarifying the results you are seeking as well as who is accountable. If you have difficulty with this, try to identify a measurable objective that is close to the half-way point. By all means, make your objectives a bit of a stretch, but leave your employees feeling confident that you will, in fact, achieve most – if not all – of the objectives you are communicating with them.

In our experience, companies that share their strategy with their employees get far greater alignment with their vision. This makes implementation much easier, and helps to give your vision a life of its own. If you want to get all of your employees – and not just your planning team – helping to move your vision forward, try communicating your strategy with them this week!

If your company needs to improve its strategies, contact us for great, experienced leadership through the strategy development process.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  Please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.
© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

Communicating Your Strategic Plan With Employees-Part One

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

By Robert W. Bradford, President/CEO

This article was originally posted in Course and Direction May 2004 and this is Part One of that article.

It’s critically important that employees understand your strategy. Employees who understand your strategy will be able to make better day-to-day decisions that will support your vision. But, while most of us understand this – at least intellectually – we often have difficulty effectively communicating our strategies to people outside of the strategic planning team. This may be especially difficult if you feel that parts of your strategy are sensitive and should not be shared with people outside of your management team. In addition, it may be undesirable to load employees with the task of thoroughly understanding all of your strategic planning documents when many employees only touch on one small operational area. How can we reconcile these difficulties?

First, you should probably have a separate vehicle for communicating your strategy. Handing out photocopies of your strategic planning binder will not achieve the effect you desire. Definitely prepare a separate document for communicating your strategy to employees. There are several reasons why this is a good idea. First, a strategy communication document can be written expressly for your employee base, using language that they will understand. Second, such a document can be structured around communications effectiveness, rather than being structured around the strategy or implementation process. Finally, it is much easier to police a short strategy communication document for sensitive data that you may not want to share with others – especially competitors.

The second way of communicating your strategy more effectively is to use something short and to-the-point, since many employees won’t want to spend a lot of time reading about your vision. Our clients have found that a one-sheet summary combined with a short (15-30 minute) informational meeting with managers is most effective vehicle for communicating the outcome of your strategic planning meetings. The more quickly and easily employees can digest – and understand – your strategy, the more likely they are to do so, and take it to heart. We strongly recommend the judicious use of bullet points and, where appropriate, graphics, to get your strategic vision across as succinctly as possible.

Thirdly, you should “sanitize” your communication document. This isn’t as hard as it sounds – you simply need to look at everything you might share with employees and ask “will it hurt us if other people know this?” Obviously, this is much easier if you are using a separate document for communicating your strategy. One of the very interesting things we notice about “sanitized” strategy documents is that they still convey a strong sense of the company’s strategic competency. This is because real strategic competency is a very good example of something that’s unlikely to hurt you if shared. So go ahead and share your competencies – if they are real. On the other hand, you will want to be very careful about the weaknesses your company has that are discussed in such a document. The reason for this is twofold: first, you don’t want employees focusing too heavily on weaknesses for a host of reasons, and second, you don’t want to tip your hand on any internal issues that you are addressing before you have tackled them. A savvy competitor can make a lot of hay from any weaknesses you acknowledge in public, so make sure that any communication that includes weaknesses focuses on strategically useful weaknesses rather than issues you intend to address and possibly fix in the future.

If your company needs to improve its strategies, contact us for great, experienced leadership through the strategy development process.  Our highly acclaimed Simplified Strategic Planning approach has helped many hundreds of organizations improve their strategies and bottom line results with effective, actionable strategies.  Please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.
© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

The Five Pillars of Strategic Planning

Friday, August 7th, 2015

By Robert W. Bradford, President and CEO

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

Strategic planning has been done many different ways.  Some work, and others don’t.   I’ve heard people talk about planning processes that are deeply detailed and months long, and I’ve heard of planning processes that are done in a couple of hours with post-it notes and tinker toys.  My own take on strategic planning is based on experience drawn from working with hundreds of companies over the years, and I’ve paid particular attention to three outcomes from strategic planning:

-What was the effect on the PROFITS of the company?

-What was the effect on the SALES of the company?

-How much of what was committed was EXECUTED?

Based on the experiences of those who fared best in these three areas, here are a few key things you NEED in your strategic planning:

  1. Data+
  2. Assumptions
  3. Direction
  4. Commitment
  5. Execution

You can do anything you want, but without the five items above, you will end up with either a bad plan or a bad outcome.  With the five items above, very little that you add can greatly improve the plan quality or the effectiveness of execution.

Let’s examine each of these separately:

  1. Data +

Far too often, I’ve seen companies try to strategize based upon opinions, feelings and presumptions.  There is simply no substitute for data – but strategically useful data is hard to find (and often expensive).  Anything you can do to improve your repository of strategically useful data is likely to pay back in your planning process.

  1. Assumptions

While we desperately attempt to avoid assumptions in our daily lives, temporary estimates about the future are completely inevitable in strategic planning.  The key to making assumptions and using them well is to do so consciously, and remember that they are subject to revision in the future.

  1. Direction

Direction is the heart of strategy – in my definition, strategic planning is the planning of a direction that will focus the organization’s resources to the best possible effect.  Almost no one skips this.

  1. Commitment

There are two downsides to commitment.  One is that commitment creates accountability – which is only a downside when you want to avoid it.  The second is that commitments that aren’t backed up with resources and execution damage the credibility of the plan and the management team.  The simple solution to this problem is to fix it with good, resource-based execution planning, but the tedium of that process can prevent companies from doing so.

  1. Execution

The Achilles heel of the entire strategic planning process, execution must be planned fairly meticulously with ample resources allocated to the expected efforts.  Any execution which is going to be strategically useful will require a significant amount of time and/or money, or else its strategic utility will be short-lived.  Because many strategists shy away from anything that some might call micro-management, I often observe poor execution planning in companies that are doing strategic planning without professional help.

I’d strongly recommend you take a look at your current strategic planning process.  Are all five of these areas covered?  If so – congratulations, you’re much more likely to get good results from your planning than most companies.  If your strategic management is missing any of these items, you might want to take a closer look at Simplified Strategic Planning, a battle-tested methodology that assures you will cover the critical pieces with an appropriate investment of time.

To learn ways to take your strategic planning to the next level please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.
© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution

Part Three: Better Strategic Planning in the Smaller Company

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

In two prior articles we discussed the key differences between strategic planning for somewhat larger companies and the smaller companies we are concentrating on here and listed the first four tips we have developed for making Simplified Strategic Planning easier for smaller companies. In this article, we will list the remaining four tips.

  1. Push yourself — and your team — to keep the strategies as focused as possible. A two million dollar company CAN play in a billion dollar market, but it’s much more likely to succeed in a ten million dollar market. Always ask the question ”Can we realistically expect to dominate this market in five years?”.
  2. Don’t have too many objectives — smaller companies will be well served to have 3-5 objectives. If you finish these, you can always start to work on the next set of objectives earlier.
  3. Pay close attention to implementation — because there aren’t excess resources which can be dedicated to strategic activity, routine functions will always demand a higher proportion of your team’s time. You will need to be very careful about allocating time to action plans, and must be highly disciplined about having monthly monitoring of action plan progress to keep the ball rolling.
  4. Outsource as much as you are comfortable with in the process itself. It’s hard enough to learn how to be the best at the things your company does, so consider outsourcing at least some of the planning process and possibly the market research to people who do those things professionally.

Remember, strategic planning should be viewed as a routine part of your year, rather than a separate event, so make sure the process fits into your normal business cycle with a minimum of hassle. If you use these tips, you should complete the process described in our seminars in a reasonable amount of time and get tremendous benefit.

To learn ways to take your strategic planning to the next level please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.
Note:  This article was previously printed in full in Course and Direction in September 2006.
© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution