By Paula Beadle
As the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Does your organization have an abundance of opportunities and good fortune? Seneca would likely argue that without preparation neither is possible. Wishful thinking may bring you some luck, but identifying and maximizing opportunities requires a thoughtful plan.
I recently asked a group of executives and managers, “How many of you have a plan for the coming year?” A few reluctant hands were slowly raised, but most stayed quietly folded. I get it, strategic planning can be a daunting task. Although most of us know developing a plan is a critical element to success, not all of us undertake the task. Make your own luck by creating a simple plan using the steps below.
Plan for the Future
The ideal strategic planning process begins at the top of an organization with the development of initiatives that support the mission and vision (no more than 3-5). Typically, these initiatives have a long-term outlook (1-3 years), rather than focusing on short-term goals. In the absence of a strategic plan, we advocate for creating a simple, annual plan for every department in your organization. If the phrase “strategic plan” gives you heartburn, think of this as a roadmap or playbook that helps chart your course for the coming year.
Facilitate the Process
A solid strategic planning facilitation process guides a group through steps that enable them to envision the future, formulate strategies, set goals and determine action steps to achieve those goals. Someone—either internally or externally—should be appointed to facilitate the process to create a consistent approach across the organization. We recommend it is someone other than a member of the executive team so there is full participation from the group most responsible for driving the vision that’s created.
Once the strategic initiatives have been established, create a planning session for each department. Make a list of the Positives, Potentials, and Concerns (PPC) to evaluate the past year and provide focus for the year ahead. During this step, you’ll end up with a long list of items. From that list, choose the most important areas to focus on. Choosing what not to do is an important part of planning process. You may have noticed this list also fits neatly into a SWOT Analysis.
Plan to Succeed
Following the PPC process, make a list of wishes. That wish list will lead you to determine the most important goals for the year ahead. While making the list, consider the mission and vision of the organization. As goals start to take shape from the lists, be relentless in creating SMART goals. Keep in mind, “A problem well stated is half solved.” Once the goals are determined, create a list of actionable tasks with timelines.
A step-by-step process:
Developing an annual plan invigorates leadership and staff through clear articulation of “what are we trying to accomplish?” and “how will we be successful?” The annual plan is an excellent communications tool for using with all your stakeholders. Planning ahead allows for better preparation in the face of unexpected occurrences, which inevitably occur every year.
By developing a simple plan, you will undoubtedly amplify opportunities and bring some good luck to your business.
About the author: Paula Beadle is the president of Caravel Marketing. She is a results driven trailblazer with a proven record of creating order out of chaos. By developing and managing innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue, and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards, Paula has helped numerous organizations discover and achieve their goals.