Do You Have A Real Plan?
A few weeks ago I participated in an intensive strategy session with a company in Denver. Two other consultants and I invested three days with the owner, mapping out what success looks like, not only for his company, but for himself and his family also.
These kind of sessions are exhausting mentally and physically, since we go step-by-step through each detail of the business – from marketing and prospecting through fulfillment and follow-up. We break down each process to look at the opportunities, and then develop a plan for each company that emphasizes the combination of quick returns coupled with long-term growth.
As we were working through this company’s plan, I sat and thought about a lot of other companies I deal with – how I wish I could convince them that, although they think they have a plan, many times, they really don’t. A plan should be “shooting fish in a barrel” rather than fishing in the ocean with your bare hands. (Waving your hand around in the ocean could actually work, but losing a digit might be the price…)
SO WHAT DOES A SUCCESSFUL COMPANY PLAN LOOK LIKE?
A good starter plan involves one ideal, with several objectives that all tie to that goal, and multiple tactics under each of the objectives. Time should be a factor; in general, I like to attack the things that can be achieved within 90 days, to cash in on them.
1. The ideal
The purpose of the meeting.
Why are we here?
What is the reason we have brought this group together and invested the time and money?
What do you want to achieve?
It may be more of an overarching statement such as “We want to improve company culture.” That is definitely not a goal itself, since it has no real meat or definition to it, but this “ideal” provides an area of focus under which we will create goals.
Although still large concepts, objectives help us narrow our focus within the ideal. For example, tying into the aforementioned ideal, some objectives could be “Change company language to have a more positive focus” or “Improve image of team members.” These are a little more detailed with regard to the area, but still not quite concrete action steps.
These are the detailed, specific steps you will take to achieve the objectives (and further the overall ideal). Multiple tactics will stem from each objective. The tactics should be assigned to a party for responsibility as well as time bound, and it should be very clear when they are accomplished. An example, continuing our “company culture” example, would be to “Institute a training program on preferred verbiage.” (As an aside, if you don’t realize this particular tactic should be a standard company training module, visit Chick-fil-a, Apple, or Southwest Airlines… or better yet, contact me!) Another tactic could be “Establish a uniform policy for all team members.” Once identified, both of these tactics would need to be assigned a person who is responsible for spearheading the program as well as a time target to get the done. The “tactics” are where the action is!
MAKING THIS KIND OF PLAN CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT TO DO QUICKLY AND ON YOUR OWN.
The right outside consultants can sniff out your hidden issues and help you look truthfully at what your company needs to improve. The process is long and somewhat arduous, but it works. After a couple of days of invested time, together we produce a 90-day battle plan that is ready to be executed. The steps are clear, the responsible parties and time limits are assigned – all that is left is the effort and execution. Focus and purpose replaces wondering what you should be doing on a daily basis or wandering aimlessly through the flavor of the month strategy. That is what takes a good company and makes it great.
Nearly every company hits a plateau where it just can’t seem to push to the next level. Identifying what’s holding you back and setting up a 90-day plan is imperative to reaching the next climb’s summit.
Do you have a plan? Who is making sure it’s good? Who is questioning and analyzing it to be sure it is really what is needed? Get some help. The success will come faster and easier – I promise.