In my previous post, I covered the value of clearly articulating what an organization does and how it can be most often influenced. In this post, I’m going to turn my attention towards setting the strategic direction.
While strategic direction can often sound like a complicated, or worse yet, expensive thing to do requiring management consultants, it doesn’t have to be.
In essence, you are determining where you want your organization to go and coming up with plans to get there. So for the purpose of this post and Blueprint overall, I will focus on the structure of a strategic plan, and not the content therein. As a quick aside, there is no doubt that there is tremendous power in management consultants to help you craft the best strategy. I’m really focused on helping you follow through on whatever strategy you settle on. I suspect for most, consistent action on a single strategy will often out-yield trying to find the best strategy before any action is taken.
So, for our purposes, I’ve carved up strategic direction into three parts:
- Outcomes – the why statements – statements of direction and aspiration, such as “increase sales”, “decrease customer complaints”, “reduce time to market for products”, “increase team retention”, etc. These statements provide a context.
- Milestones – the when & how much statements – specific, measurable targets that everyone can see and determine progress against, such as “achieve $1M in sales by end of 2016”, “have an average customer review of 4.5 on Amazon by end of Q2”, etc. These targets make sure we are on track.
- Approaches – the what statements – what approach are you going to take to make the two items above a reality, such as “create an inside sales force”, “solicit feedback and respond to high-volume customers”, etc. These statements frame what actions we will be taking.
These three constituent parts and how they support one another form the basis for your strategic plans. So while they seem simple on the surface (because they are), the power is in the follow-through or putting your money where your mouth is. As an example, if you say you want to create an inside sales force and then don’t because you feel you need to realign territories for your external teams, you’ve missed the point and are now off strategy.
Now, while you may want to change your strategies, and that’s fine to do, you probably should do it more deliberately than when you want to take a specific step that isn’t in alignment.
Voila, pragmatic strategic planning.
Is this all that you can do? Not at all, but if you do this you will likely be ahead of your competition.