Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO
In the prior article we discussed the key differences between strategic planning for somewhat larger companies and the smaller companies we are concentrating on here. In this article, we list three of the eight tips we have developed for making Simplified Strategic Planning easier.
- Keep the team small — while 6-8 people is ideal for a 100 person company, 3-5 is likely to be better for smaller companies. Make sure your team represents the three points of the Tension Triangle – markets, finance and operations. Also, of course, make sure the CEO (or in some cases, owner) is fully involved in the process.
- Don’t have too many market segments — we routinely work with 5-10 segments in most client companies, but 3-5 is a good number in smaller companies. Remember, while you lose some ability to focus on specific customer behaviors, fewer segments also means less time is necessary for the planning process. A benefit of reducing the number of segments you use is that you may end up forcing yourself to focus more.
- Skip some of the less critical parts of the process in order to focus on the most critical issues. While this can be dangerous, you might consider not doing the following exercises in a smaller company: Supplier Market Assessment (1.3), Significant Regulations (1.6), Other Assumptions (4.3), How Can We Shoot Ourselves in the Foot? (5.3), and Mission Statement (6.1). You can also save time by combining Measures of Success (2.3) with Goals (6.2), and limiting the number of Strategic Issues (5.2) you examine.
- Understand you will have next year to tackle another set of issues — It’s a good idea to do a great job understanding and dealing with a limited number of strategic issues each year. Some of the most successful smaller companies I know have a ”theme” for each year – one year it might be sales, the next year it might be quality, margins, or employee development.
We will discuss the remaining four important tips for smaller companies in the next article of this series.
To learn ways to take your strategic planning to the next level please listen to our webinar: Why my strategic planning isn’t working.