It’s that time of year: Frantic end-of-year targets on one side, year-end holiday planning on the other. And while you take a break from crunch-time, we invite you think about your next holiday destination. Let’s say that you’ve decided to take a trip to a warm and sunny Miami. You have your destination in mind – and you know it’s going to be amazing when you get there. You’re looking forward to the journey and you’re excited about treating yourself after a long period of hard work and careful planning. But getting there is no work of magic – it requires a little bit of (or, in this case, a lot of) careful planning.
Strategic planning is an organisation’s process of knowing where they want to go, and building a framework that will get them there. We look at 5 reasons why strategic planning is like taking a trip to Miami.
- You understand your Route: Understanding and planning for how you’re going to get there. This may include flights, taxis, busses, trains. You visually map out the route you’re going to take that will land you safely at your holiday destination. Doing that opens up several other questions. How much cash do I need to be able to cover just this part of the journey? How much time do I have? Is it physically possible? But understanding your route is not just looking at it from a seagull’s perspective. You may look at your route and realise that you simply don’t have enough money to get to Miami right now – so you decide to set yourself incremental opportunities that will build your holiday piggy bank – that finally gets you to the beautiful blue beaches and skies. And no different is looking at the journey of your long-term strategy that lands you safely and securely where you intend your business to be. You identify how much money you’ll need to get you there, how much growth will be required (in terms of capital and resource), and whether the amount of time you have set yourself is a realistic target. You also identify smaller activities that will need to feed into your journey plan – you book tickets, you look for the cheapest rates, you choose the service with the better quality.
- You understand your destination: You need to book your accommodation and plan for your expenditure while you’re there. To do this, you need to be aware of the best location, some of the sights you intend to take in, what you’re looking for individually. You may love it so much that you decide to stay there for longer. You may even never want to return home. That’s no different when it comes to strategic planning. Understanding where you want to be when you get there means taking into account those around you, your competition, your opportunities, your risks, and the long-term effects of being there. But it doesn’t stop there. Your long-term strategy is anything but stagnant – it is ever evolving – and whereas Miami may be your destination, there will be a life after Miami – which also requires planning and further thought. Your strategy is a long-term plan filled with destination goals that build and complement your ultimate business target.
- You understand how much it’s going to cost you: Unless you’re the exception to the norm, you probably have a finite amount of money. There is no open-ended blank cheque sitting waiting for you to cash in. You know what you want to achieve, and now you have to work out how to achieve that with the cash you have. And it’s in this process that you may even realise you don’t have enough –and you need to make a plan to get more. Similarly, your long-term strategy needs to be focussed on growth – which means that you may not have all the capital you need today to get you there, but strategic planning means you have the opportunity to raise the capital you need that fits into your long-term growth plan. A much more comfortable place to be.
- You understand who’s with you: Whether you’re going on your own, or as part of a family, or a group of friends who need to just get away, part of your planning is understanding who is going to be along with you on the ride. There may be someone who could be problematic, and in fact, even pose a serious risk preventing you ever arriving in Miami at all, or you may have the perfect team that are all focussed on doing the same things, and enjoying the same sights, as you are. No different is this in the world of strategic planning. Looking at your team today means you are planning for tomorrow’s success. Is your team the one that will help to get you there? If not – you need to make the necessary changes today, that will guarantee your arrival to your long-term growth goal. From your leadership team through to your functional departments – no individual is excused from this exercise.
- You understand potential risks: Going to Miami, you know that the sun is going to shine. So, inevitably, you pack a lot of sunscreen, and after-sun lotion. You probably assume that, because of the climate, it’s highly likely that at some point, you may need it. What you’re not certain of are any other potential risks that may pop up – illness, lost luggage, unsuitability of accommodation, climate risks. The strategic planning world is no different. Being smart about planning means you look at all possible risks that would limit your opportunity to reach your business goals – whether they be short-term, or long. Part of your planning is to understand what these are, and identifying process that mitigates these risks – giving you a better chance at success, and a stronger, more solid path towards growth.
And as we draw you back in from this imaginary trip and get you re-focussed on the matters at hand, if any part of the strategic planning process gives you sleepless nights, or if you simply need the insight from people who have been where you are, and delivered strategic success within their organisations, then it’s time to chat. Get in touch with us today.