Almost anyone can develop a business plan, but thereâ€™s more to putting pen to paper than just going through the motions. Think about whether you follow the existing processes or how often your strategy management group does an assessment on the organization to determine what you need to change in the organization.
Before you think about doing anything else around planning, here are some of the things you need to pay attention to when focusing the ongoing development of your management system:
What is the overall health (vitality) of your corporate purpose, vision?
If you were to walk the halls of the organization and ask people what your vision is, and what is exciting about it, what would they say? Donâ€™t guess, get a piece of paper and a pen and go ask them. Do an anonymously impromptu survey right now… or perhaps when you’re done reading this article. Iâ€™m not kidding. This is one of the most tangible ways to assess the overall quality of strategic management.
Does your direction DRIVE your company, excite people, focus decisions and create momentum? Does it need to? Absolutely. Companies that donâ€™t have a strong sense of purpose arenâ€™t moving anywhere significant. They follow. Companies that follow eventually find themselves out of business.
On the flip side, companies that have a strong, exciting purpose to change something about their market, or the worldâ€¦ matter. They create the world that we live in. They are the first ones on the scene. This isnâ€™t to suggest that you literally focus your market on early adopters and ignore the middle of the market. Just that your company has to exist for a higher purpose than to maintain a status quo.
Chances are, when your company was formed, someone had a bold dream to do something big, something that mattered. That’s the kind of driving force that it takes to start something new. It’s easy to let that purpose fade away once stability comes, if the business doesn’t continually reinvent itself… which leads to the next discussion.
What is your company on the S curve?
Strategically, where are you? Are you developing a new market or business model or are you squeezing the last drops out of the one you have. Recognize that you can’t ride your current business model forever. Even the best ones diminish over time, it’s the natural order of market relevance. Itâ€™s important to know when itâ€™s time to jump off to the next before it’s too late. Do it from positions of strength.
What do your strategy review meetings look like?
The quality of the strategy review meetings is an excellent indicator into the quality of your strategy management systems because the direction is either inspiring or itâ€™s not. If itâ€™s not, the reports will lack focus and inspiration, people wonâ€™t understand the purpose of the meeting and there wonâ€™t be any excitement about what youâ€™re doing. If youâ€™re on the right track with a well communicated and engaged, compelling purpose, you will know it. Obviously, a well structured discussion is needed to make the connections, but you will see the difference. This speaks to the purpose, the communication of that purpose, the alignment to that purpose and the quality of leadership.
How far into the organization does the alignment go?
One of the biggest challenges I have seen is getting everyone to engage the alignment of strategy at lower levels of the organization. Sadly, this is where most of your customers get affected. Quite often, you run into pockets of management further down into an organization that don’t want to change. Do you have consistent levels of quality in the teams plans across the organization and are they being talked about? Assess at every level and then move to the next. This will tell you a lot.
All of the major functions in the organization need an accountability and communication channel with the executive, to create visibility and accountability. It’s good for the company and it’s good for those areas.
What quality of integration exists between the various areas of work?
Are there walls up between research and planning and communications and HR and finance etcâ€¦ Are people guarding their territory? Building fences around your turf will cripple the organization from being able to implement strategy and to build a culture that supports this.
We have to be the ones that consider the organization from a perspective that others quite often donâ€™t. It is the ongoing monitoring of how the organization thinks, and acts that allows us to add value.