You may have heard someone say, “I don’t think companies should do strategic planning.”
That well-worn and sometimes misused process doesn’t accurately reflect the work that needs to be done, or the work that organizations need to do.
When my company consults with client teams, I like to refer to our sessions as “strategic and execution planning and accountabilities.” Why?
Establishing our strategy, and long-term and short-term goals,is absolutely essential. But it’s the execution that really matters.
That’s why creating the right planning team and meeting schedule is so critical to your success. Here’s how to follow the process we use.
- Discover your values
Identify your core values. These are actual values, not aspirational or those you hope to achieve.
Find your “massive transformative purpose” – highly aspirational.
Define your accountability statement. This answers the question, “What is our definition ofaccountability?”
- Hone your strategy.
Choose strategic anchors. What are your two or three unique competitive advantages?
Adopt the Hedgehog Concept, developed in the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. What’s your passion, your ability and your metric of financial success?
Identify your Big Harry Audacious Goal or BHAG™. Collins and Jerry Porras coined that term in their book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” Identify your 10-year stretch goal which should be highly inspirational.
Create your 35-word strategy statement. Everyone in the organization should know this.
Decide on your value proposition and brand promise–with a guarantee.Every customer, supplier and employee should know this.
- Embrace a three-year highly achievable goal.
This is known as 3-HAG, a strategy developed by entrepreneur Shannon Byrne Susko. Itdrives confidence in predicting the future growth of your company and then making it happen. It answers the question, “How will we measure tracking toward success?”
- Dissect execution and establish accountabilities
SWOTT+ (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats and Trends + emerging strengths) provides guidance for building your initiatives. Be aware of trends as well as threats. Everyone on your team should read the Wall Street Journal daily.
Address issues.The leadership teammust deal with real issues openly, honestly and without being defensive. Every meeting should include time to discuss prioritized issues.
Identify annual initiatives with an annual theme. Identify the three to five key initiatives that must be achieved to meet your organization’s financial and nonfinancial goals.
Team-based “rocks”: Every quarter, your company must develop from three to five initiatives, referred to as rocks in the book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.” Every initiative includes start and completion dates. The rock owner acts like a project manager and creates a plan to accomplish it.
Individual “rocks”: These are action items and accountabilities that can be assigned to members of the leadership team and don’t require more than one person to accomplish.
- Create a meeting schedule.
You will see success only if your leadership team follows an effective meeting schedule religiously.
The format described by Patrick Lencioni in the book “Death by Meeting” is the best by far. It includes the exact purpose, length of time and tips for daily, weekly and monthly meetings, and your quarterly and annual offsite meetings.
- Recruit a planning team.
Invite people who:
- Can put the success of your business ahead of the success of their functional areas.
- Possess critical thinking skills.
- Can accept criticism and praise openly, without being defensive, and deliver the same with honesty, sincerity and integrity.
- Accept additional work without the promise of more compensation.
The CEO and CFO should be permanent members. All others should have one-year renewable terms. This eliminates the drama of rotating people on and off the team.
- Practice excellent communication.
This is perhaps the most difficult but most important part of the process. The leadership team must speak with one voice about the goals, rocks and accountabilities.
Break it down and do it
When you break this down and look at the parts, this process really is simple, yet amazingly effective.So maybe it’s not the tired and tortuous strategy planning you’ve experienced or read about.
Follow it and you’ll identify with the quote from “The A-Team TV show: “I love it when a plan comes together.” It’s time to get started!
As a serial entrepreneur, business and community leader since 1983, John Howman has led a variety of businesses, from technology to consumer products companies. He leads two groups for Vistage, a professional development group for CEOs, presidents and business owners. He can be reached at JHowman@AlliedCG.com.
Ideal Meeting Rhythm
|Meeting||Time||Goals of Meeting||Meeting Specifics|
|Daily Huddle||5-10 Minutes||Share daily schedules, activities and any urgent situations||Stand up, don’t sit down Do not cancel the meetings Administrative and fast|
|Weekly Tactical||45-90 Minutes||Use a standard agenda template Rotate meeting leaders Review priorities (Rocks)||Identify and prioritize issues Solve problems! Create a “parking lot” for strategic issues|
|Monthly Strategic||2-4 Hours||Extension of the Weekly Meeting More ideation and brainstorming Follow up accountabilities and priorities (Rocks)||Limit strategy discussion to one or two topics Engage in healthy conflict Do your homework prior to the meeting|
|Annual & Quarterly Offsite||2 Day Annual and 1-Day Quarterly||Review & update strategy Confirm 1-year, 3-year goals Leadership Development Exercises Review accountability on quarterly priorities (Rocks)||Ideally Offsite (Post-Covid) Build Team cohesion and education Leave “White Space” in agenda|