Monday, 13 July 2015

OVERVIEW OF THE STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS

We always start with our Mission Statement because a good mission statement helps clarify for instance what’s in a box vs. what’s outside of a box (used as an illustration), and it most importantly asks the question….. “why we exist as an organization”. Once you have answered this question, you need to determine “where you are now”.
You figure out where you are “now” by looking at data both externally and internally, focus questions such as:
-         what’s going on in your industry
-         in your environment
-         your competitors
-         with your customers
-         what is your staff saying about what is working and what is not working
-         what are your partners saying about what they like or don’t like

When we collect all that information we synthesize it into our handy little strategic thinking tool called a SWOT.

SWOT stands for S(trengths), W(eaknesses), O(pportunities), T(hreats)

Once we have identified our SWOT we use that information, as well as our collective thinking, to determine “where we want to be in the future.”

Now you may already have a Vision and that vision maybe updated based on the market data that you have just collected; or maybe you are refreshing it, but what is important about the vision is it answers the question “where.”
Where are we going?” and is it really clear to everybody in the organization? Because if it’s not clear, you can’t create a plan from where we are today to where we want to be in the future.

So once you have clarified your Vision, your job in your planning process is to draw a direct line or the clearest path from where we are today to where we want to be, and we start by articulating our organizational-wide strategies or those things that are our “guardrails” to keep us on a straight path. Once we have those identified, we then articulate our long-term strategic objectives.

Now there are all types of different planning terms, I’m going to call these “long-term strategic objectives” so as to articulate those things that provide a high-level view of items between where we are today and that future state broken down in a balanced way as follows:

-         Financial
-         Customer
-         Operational excellence
-         People

The rule of thumb is that less than 7 are always good.

Once we have clear long-term strategic objectives we then identify our short-term goals. We identify our short-term goals as SMART which is S(pecific), M(easurable), A(ctionable), R(ealistic), T(imebound).

 It is fabulous to have articulated goals that go out multiple years, but you can’t always do that but if you can in your planning process then  that helps you have a longer horizon so you have goals that have milestones that are due in year 1, year 2, year 3, etc…

For your first year or the year you are currently in, you are going to want to break that down into specific goals at the functional or departmental level and then at the individual level. In other words, you want to cascade these goals from your corporate goals to the department and then individual contributors.

 Once you have all of these pieces put together, you have more than likely a really good plan but no plan is complete until you take about how you are going to execute it!

Everybody in your organizational structure needs to have a clear action plan. He or she need to know their piece of the overall plan and what they are responsible for monthly or quarterly.


You need to identify “when” you are going to come together to talk about your strategy and make adjustments and adaptations. Perhaps you will have quarterly strategy reviews such as January, April, July and October but don’t have your team clueless without identifying those dates after your strategic planning session.


Lastly, pick a system to track your progress so that when you come into those meetings with your goals, everyone has the same documentation and language to talk about how they are doing against your plan.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

WHAT IS A 'SMART' GOAL?

Specifically, it is a 1-3 year action statement.

Let’s address the biggest problems we have with goals, objectives, cornerstones, priorities, whatever you want to call them.
We have a problem with semantics which we want to cut out because we are talking about goal setting.

Right now you can call it whatever you want to, but for this blog,
we will use the definition of the word goal about how you will develop an effective “1-3 year action statement.”

The first thing you have to do is make sure you are actually starting with a verb such as “increasing”. A good goal actually says what dial on your management dashboard that you are trying to move such as “increasing”, “decreasing”, “reducing”.


 The goal of “maintaining” is ok if you actually just want to articulate that you are just trying to do something, but you’re not necessarily just trying to change it.  However, most of the time in strategy development you are trying to change something; you are trying to see movement, so again what movement are you trying to see?

The next thing that is important when you are setting good goals is to make sure that they are SMART (this is an acronym). What does it stand for?


SMART means:

(S)pecific

(M)easurable

(A)ctionable – what does this mean? It means that when you read it in a year from now you will remember what you wrote and you can do something about it

(R)esponsible – who is doing it?

(T)ime bound – when is it going to get done?

An important thing when you are setting goals is to understand how people are going to help you get this goal accomplished, therefore by breaking a goal down you make sure everybody (who needs to) has a piece if it which they can actually accomplish.

OK, let’s look at an example of a lofty SMART organization wide-goal and then break it down into how you will actually execute it. This goal will be delegated to a senior manager and team member - Tom. The goal is:

“Increase customer satisfaction by 10% by 31st December 2015”.

Now let us look at the characteristics of this goal. It is:-

S(specific) as it clearly has the verb “increase”

M(easurable) as it clearly says by “10%”

A(ctionable) as a year from now it said what you wanted to do

R(esponsible). It clearly says that “Tom” is responsible for the completion of this goal.

T(ime bound) as it shows that this goal is to be completed by the 31st December.

How does Tom proceed to achieve this goal?

Tom will have to engage his junior team members from two (2) departments that impact customer satisfaction, they are ‘Customer Service’ and ‘IT’.
He then has to engage them into cascading this goal that is one level deeper and palatable for them to manage so that they are accountable. This could be to “reduce errors to 1 from every 100 complaints’ and “resolve issue tickets within 24hrs” respectively.

Now, within each department (for instance in Customer Service) there maybe a couple of people that will help those junior managers ‘reduce errors to 1 for every 100 complaints’.

In closing, my tip relating to setting good goals is to make sure that you really think about how does it go from the big picture to the small picture and making sure that when you articulate it you are actually very specific about identifying if its SMART.