It’s All About Change

It’s All About Change from Planning to Success


strategicplanningStrategic planning may be the toughest hurdle to conquer in the business world. Let’s face it, the day-to-day operations can be overwhelming enough and often really critical parts of the planning process are skipped over because of time constraints. Then, there is the sobering reality that most companies lack the mindset, the assets, and/or the appetite to devote to strategic planning. Since winning the #1 award as the Associate Business Coach of the Year, I am often asked, “What do successful businesses have in common?” The answer starts with a commitment to evaluation.

Changing your results is predicated on strategic planning, operational planning, and performance management planning. Strategic planning is the roadmap to the future. It means revisiting your vision, mission, and values; in other words, your “rules of the game.” Strategic planning is about where you’re headed and what you will accomplish when you arrive.

The purpose of planning is not to produce results, but to align your executive team and set the long-term course. This dialogue is critical to help these senior leaders adapt, focus, and commit.

Strategic Planning

1. Analyze results from the past three years

  • Revisit your Vision/Mission Statement.
  • What market changes have occurred in the last 2-3 years?
  • Unique Selling Proposition – what differentiates you in the marketplace?
  • Assess your internal systems.
  • Complete a detailed “SWOT” assessment.

2. Consider alternatives to current problems

  • Awareness: What part of management thinking has contributed to current problems?
  • Analysis:  What new thinking must exist to define a new direction?
  • Discuss: What are alternative scenarios for key variables?

3. Mapping the new direction

  • What does the market analysis project for the next 3-5 years?
  • Does your current business model require revision?
  • How does your company’s USP relate to the marketplace of the future?

4. Benchmarking – a new type of leadership

  • Identify the top two or three companies (not in your industry) that are “best in class” and visit them to learn from their success.
  • The quality of your benchmarking trip will be in direct proportion to the amount of time spent planning the visit.
  • Do you have the right members on your management team?

Operational Planning

The operational plan is “how” you are going to implement the strategic plan. Under normal circumstances, the operational plan should be completed during the fourth quarter. Determining a matching budget and key performance indicators are also obligatory segments of a well-designed plan.

Designing the Operational Plan

  1. Identify the forces working for and against your new thinking
  2. Test your thinking against the workings of effective strategies
    • Know your competition
    • Have contingencies
    • Match competitive situations
    • Be consistent
    • Be realistic
    • Leverage resources
  3. Build motivation
  4. Concentrate full resources
  5. Maintain total communication
  6. Conserve scarce resources
  7. Match company values
  8. Utilize all information and intelligence
  9. Combine all strategic components
  10. Identify who is responsible for which elements of the plan
  11. Analyze operations, key performance indicators, budgets, and department/divisional action plans
  12. Develop an implementation timeline
  13. Design and execute a company-wide communication plan

Performance Management Planning

Once you’ve purposefully mapped out the next 3-5 years and have designed an operational plan that articulates HOW you are going to implement the strategic plan, teams and individuals must be made to understand their roles. Most organizations try to use their performance management system. Unfortunately, in almost every organization of which I’ve been a part, this is where the plan falls short. Leaders at all levels fundamentally dislike their organizational performance management system for three reasons:

  1. The system is too complicated
  2. Leaders do not hold leaders accountable for using the system effectively
  3. Most leaders are not very effective at providing consistent and valuable feedback

But all the planning in the world will go down the drain if no one can state the top three priorities they must accomplish every day and what the company’s top three priorities are for the year.

And finally, a reality check: The likelihood a company will achieve its strategic plan is in its review of the operational budget to determine whether the required funds for success are allocated.

Basic keys to success

  • A business coach, to help design and facilitate offsite planning retreats
  • A commitment, by the CEO, to the planning process
  • The undisputed participation of management
  • A well-designed and implemented communication plan for the entire organization
  • A performance management system that holds leaders accountable
  • An effective one page organizational scorecard

John Lankford is Master Business Advisor of Premier Development Solutions. He can be reached at [email protected] or (734) 454-5667.

John Lankford

John Lankford was recognized as the 2007-2010 Associate Business Advisor of the Year in North America and brings proven executive experience and best practices to select companies every year. He served 18 years at the Executive Education Center at Ford Motor Company and is former Senior Director of Ascension Health Learning Institute. John has developed top leaders around the world in partnership with the University of Michigan Business School, the Center for Creative Leadership, Comcast University and GE University, to name a few. His business expertise has been tapped by prominent business media such as the New York Times, CBS and Dbusiness magazine and has been a syndicated business columnist. He is the author of The Answer is Leadership and Superstar for life…Career Transitions. John’s keynote speaking has landed him on the elite team that trains and certifies the new Executive Coaches joining the worldwide coaching community. John is also former Chief Executive Officer of the Innisbrook Leadership Institute. Lankford can be reached at [email protected] or call (888) 730-1950

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