There is a term for wasting precious time buried in minutia; it’s called being ‘in the weeds.’ Sure, an over-grown garden isn’t beautiful to look at and does need tending, but how appealing is a pristine patch that’s located in the middle of a dense jungle – where no one will ever see it?
That’s the dilemma faced by many CEOs who spends an exorbitant amount of time putting out fires, cranking out widgets or chasing the next sell, only to look up eventually and find their business sinking, while their industry/competitors are moving full steam ahead.
An effective CEO’s primary responsibility is to develop and implement sound strategies that set the course for those employees whose job it is to till the soil, fertilize the crop and – yes, dig up the weeds. Here are three touchstones to ensure that you are setting your company up for success, and not spending your precious time buried in crabgrass!
1. Schedule Ongoing Time to Strategize – Developing business strategy has to be a priority, which means make these planning sessions a regular and planned part of your month or quarter. Waiting to ‘get around to it,’ won’t suffice since there will always be a more urgent task to perform or weed to pull. Make strategic planning a top priority.
2. Slow Down to Speed Up – Chances are, if you continue doing the same thing the exact same way, that you will get the exact same results. However, if you want innovation and acceleration it may be wise to slow things down, evaluate your course, then plan and execute course-corrections. Slowing down can be scary when you are sailing along at full speed, but it takes steely resolve to resist short-term speed for longer term objectives that lead to long term success.
3. Get Off the Grid – Take your core team away from the office, cell phones and emails for a full day to focus on one key element that will drive business growth and success. Your team members know your business better than anyone else (maybe even you!), but the day-to-day grind can be a hindrance to creative brainstorming and the sharing of innovative concepts that may prove to be low-hanging fruit that can drive short and long-term strategy and success.
Whether you sell financial services, yoga pants or widgets, strategic planning can make the difference between your business barely staying above water or full speed ahead. To optimize your business results, as CEO you will have to stay out of the weeds and making strategic planning your number one priority.
360 Business Coach Strategic Planning Sessions
Small businesses can benefit from an annual strategic planning session to help focus the company’s resources and efforts. Planning isn’t fun or easy but can be the difference in remaining a viable company in a rapidly changing industry or marketplace.
360 Business Coach believes the best method to develop a Strategic Plan is to utilize a facilitator to drive the process. This allows the business owner to participate, not lead. It integrates the business owner’s ideas without stifling input from the other participants.
The First Steps
Strategic planning requires a time commitment. Plan on at least two full days for your planning. Do the planning sessions offsite from the company’s offices. The participants should understand they are there to work on the company’s future. Distractions from the day-to-day aspects of managing the business need to be minimized.
The key members in the company’s organization chart need to be included in the strategic planning sessions. Anyone who will have significant implementation responsibilities for the decisions made during the planning session needs to participate. However, try to limit the number of participants to no more than ten people.
Prior to the initial planning a comprehensive homework assignment is distributed to the planning team participants addressing the following topics.
Business Mission/Definition/Overview: The intent is to gain an understanding if the management team is cohesive in their understanding of the company’s business and its reason for existence.
Business Vision: The intent is to gain an understanding of the management team’s perspective on where the company is going.
External Environment Analysis: The purpose is to solicit input on the opportunities and threats that exist in the marketplace, including the perceived impact the competition can have on the company.
Internal Environment Analysis: The aim is to solicit input on the strengths and weaknesses of the company, including those operational aspects that are deterring the company from being more successful.
The homework assignments are returned to the facilitator approximately one week prior to the first formal session. A summary of all participant comments is prepared for presentation at the first meeting. During the first meeting the team is required to develop, review and/or revise the company’s mission statement. This exercise gets everyone involved in the planning process and helps the participants to clearly understand why the company exists.
Next, the planning team is required to review the homework assignment dealing with the vision for the company in three to five years. Many common elements will surface; however, the divergent viewpoint regarding where the company intends to go and what it intends to become need to be reconciled. The purpose is to reach agreement on where the company is headed. The balance of the first day is devoted to identifying the opportunities and problems that the company would like to address. No company has sufficient resources to address all the challenges and opportunities. Priorities need to be established. The objective is to identify no more than five or six priority areas that the company should address in the coming year. These should be the highest impact activities that if addressed, will have the greatest positive results on the company. The second day of the strategic planning process is devoted to setting goals and devising solutions/strategies/tactics for addressing the priority challenges and opportunities. Specific action plans, timeframes and responsibilities are assigned for each goal. The last aspect of the planning effort is to set a review process in place to track the planning teams progress in achieving the priority goals.
Let 360 Business Coach facilitate your business strategy, contact Rose Tilford rose@360Businesscoach.com