Cue the music and play the old Billy Joel gem, “New York State Of Mind.” That’s a great song, and one I always enjoy listening to because it reminds me of one of my favorite cities on this wonderful planet. It is getting late in the year, and it’s time to think strategically about your business and how you’re ending this year and how you’re going to start next year. While it would have been ideal for you and your leadership team to get started thinking about Strategic Planning back in September and October, but I have always believed that it’s better to start late, than not to start at all. Here is how to get going.
I work with a significant number of clients who are in the high technology industries, running companies that are VARs, Distributors, Software Developers, or Cloud Service Providers. These are industries that are characterized by constant disruptive change (some might even dare to say chaos, these days…). The leadership teams are challenged with trying to keep up with a business that is moving as fast as Bob Seger’s souped up 60 Chevy, while trying to make time to get the team together to discuss Strategic Planning for the coming year.
When does your company get together to discuss strategy? Do you get around to it in January of each year? Do you shoehorn it into December? Do you run the risk of disrupting the harmony of your leadership team during their holiday shopping and party attending crush? Or, are you one of the few enlightened and forward thinking souls who set aside time in August and September to start the dialogue now? If you’re getting to the process late again this year, remember that it’s better to start late than to never start at all. Yet, now is a good time to remind yourself that next year, you’re going to start on it much earlier, in late August or early September. You will never regret giving yourself more time to focus on this essential process.
What goes into your annual Strategic Planning process? What do you need to talk through with your leaders, in order to ensure that the team is well prepared for the coming year? What are some of the keys to ensuring that the process is not too short, too long or too complicated?
Here are a handful of suggestions that might help you to get through this process this year with more value at the end of the process:
- Get started now, and give yourself and your team an opportunity to give this important process the time that it really needs and deserves to maximize impact and business value.
- Go through the process of preparing your team to give this the priority and attention it deserves. Ensure that the team knows how you’ll benefit as a team next year by a strong planning process this year. (hint: Better focus on finishing this year well, team more balanced at year end, clear strategy in hand for coming year, team ownership and buy-in is high for top priorities for coming year, etc. )
- Have a frank, candid presentation ready about the current state of the business. Cover Financial Performance, Customer Base, What’s Working?, What’s Not Working?, Service Delivery, Sales Pipeline, Progress on 2016 Priorities, Key Objectives to finish 2016 to position Company for success in 2017, etc. Finally, lay out no more than five suggested BIG initiatives for 2017. (If we do THESE five things next year, it ensures our success…) Most importantly, prepare your team to have the most focused, candid discussion of current and future states of the business. Candor must be present throughout this entire process!
- Have each Department Leader present to the team on how their team is performing. Have them do SWOTT analysis on their department, how that fits into the larger mission and vision, and what they need, and what they’re going to focus on and accomplish in 2017. Ensure that each participant tie everything back to how the larger company is performing this year and how they plan to drive their team to support the five BIG Company objectives for 2017 and ensure success. Don’t allow departmental or silo thinking. TEAM thinking only! (hint: Make sure your Department Leaders are well prepared to present on their piece of the business and limit their time to present their story to 30 minutes, start to finish, including Q & A, that will force them to be prepared and concise)
- Mine for conflict and root out any dysfunctions within the team. Hire an outside consultant to come in and lead your key leadership team through a Strategic Team Building Workshop or Strategic Operations Audit. Ensure that any disharmony is resolved and replaced by 110% buy-in and commitment to the team. Ensure that all leaders identify with the larger team and have one another’s successes top of mind to enable the larger team wins.
With a bit of planning, and a bit of proactive action now, you can ensure that any problems are resolved now. This will increase the likelihood that your organization finishes this year with a flourish. Just as importantly, it also sets you and your team up for a phenomenal success together in 2017. Don’t delay, get started now before another season passes! Let me know how it goes for you and your team, and if I can help you with this process if you need any help…
Michael is an award winning Certified Professional Business Coach and a Strategic Planning Process Thought Leader. Michael leads companies in the technology sector through their annual Strategic Planning Retreats regularly during the months of November, December, and January. Make this the year that you and your leadership team get your strategic plan right for the coming year and hit the ground running! If you’d like Michael to travel to your town and facilitate a fabulously productive one or two day Strategic Planning Summit, contact Michael at email@example.com, as his availability is limited, and openings are being snapped up quickly! Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, “Delivering Ambitious Results!”