of the Planning Meeting: Make sure
that all key departments (e.g., sales, service, finance, processing,
manufacturing, etc.) are represented. This ensures that a realistic
plan with a common goal is developed.
The meeting will be most effective in a comfortable place free from
interruptions and distractions. Often, itís best to get away from
your business premises. Develop an agenda and appoint someone
impartial to facilitate the discussion. Agree upfront that creativity
is desirable, so no idea will be immediately judged as impractical or
undesirable. (Sometimes such suggestions can spark other extremely
positive ideas). Appoint someone to write down the essence of what the
group discusses and decides.
the Current Business Environment: Prior to the
meeting, examine the factors outside the company that can affect its
performance. This analysis should cover economic forecasts, industry
developments and marketplace trends, as well as a review of the
competition. Formulate assumptions about the future and the impact of
these assumptions on your business.
on Important Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats:
Strategic planners use this technique to help organizations assess
their external environments and internal capacity. In order to plan
for the future, ask yourself these questions:
What are the advantages of your company and products? What do you
do well? What do you have that your competitors donít? What is
it about your relationship with your customers that you can use to
Where is there room for improvement? Where does your company
trip up? How would the marketplace describe your weaknesses? What
does the competition have that you donít?
Whatís happening out there that you can capitalize on? What new,
useful technologies are coming? What changes in buying or usage
habits can be exploited?
What outside events or competitors are waiting to hit you when
youíre not looking? What potentially harmful regulations are on
(or Redefine) the Companyís Mission: An
organization's mission statement (usually no more than one or two
sentences) describes the purpose of the organization. It enables all
members to share the same view of the company's goals, philosophy and
future direction. It should include the:
- Reason the
organization exists (management's mission)
- Products and
- Nature and
location of the business's marketing territory
- Areas of
direction of the company
Consensus: A management team with a clear
and consistent vision of where the company is headed is likely to be
operating in concert to reach their destination regardless of whatever
situation is encountered. Getting buy-in from all the players will go
a long way toward ensuring the strategic planís success.
Out an Action Plan: Organize the company's
objectives and tactics into key areas. This makes it easier to process
and prioritize them, to allocate resources and to coordinate with
other areas. Develop objectives that describe the conditions the
organization wishes to achieve, taking care to make them as
quantifiable as possible. Then, elucidate and quantify the tactics
needed to accomplish these objectives.
for the Strategic Plan: The
strategies and tactics that you choose will affect revenues and
expenses to differing degrees. You need to consider the potential
impact of each objective on both, so you can prioritize them and
reflect them in future budgets.
Completion Dates: Be realistic in setting target
dates. Itís important that you resist the temptation to set
extremely ambitious timelines. In most cases, the tactics youíve
agreed on will be accomplished by people who already have a full day's
work. Each employee must be given sufficient time to achieve the
specific objectives assigned to him or her, or the plan will quickly
be viewed as impossible to accomplish.
and Monitoring the Strategic Plan: For maximum
sustained results, an overall coordinator should be appointed for the
strategic plan. He or she will be responsible for bringing together
its various pieces into one comprehensive plan and monitoring its
||Create a Contingency Plan: Anticipate issues that may arise and develop
back-up plans. Take inventory of your resources before trouble hits so
you know what tools you have in your "emergency kit". Be
creative. Think of at least one additional way to meet the desired
goal so as not to be boxed in by one plan.
Thereís no way that you can anticipate every possible contingency.
By staying flexible, youíll be better able to see the options and
opportunities, and be more willing to change course ó instead of
digging your heels.