If You Don’t Write It Down, It’ll Never Happen
The old saying “failing to plan is planning to fail” is true, but then so is the expression “no plan survives first contact with the energy.” So, what’s my point? Planning sets up implementation intent; in other words, if you write it down, it’s more likely to happen than if you don’t
Five Steps to Strategy
As with many things, there are lots of different approaches to strategic planning. The number of steps in planning varies depending on the approach adopted, but I reckon when you distil it all down, there’s about five
- First is recognising and defining the strategic challenges your business faces. They could be opportunities, issues or risks, but they’ll be something that can affect your business’s future.
- From here you assess your business position against the challenges. There are some familiar ideas here: PEST analysis, competitive analysis, SWOT analysis. Whatever ideas you use, you’re trying to locate your business’s position against the competition.
- The third stage is strategy development. Now you might take a classical strategy approach: differentiation, cost leadership or focus, but increasingly we’re seeing businesses innovate on value, effectively creating new markets rather than a more traditional approach.
- Then there’s implementation through leadership excellence, usually with a focus on generating financial value. The business model is crucial here as is stakeholder management, business culture, and employee engagement. Implementation has to be steered by performance and tracking this is essential.
- Tracking performance for me is about keeping the score with a good balance between lag measures, which tell you how you’re going against targets and lead measures, which are more generative and tell you what you need to do to build the business.
Learn from the Best … Lean In
Want an example of great strategy? It’s difficult to go past Toyota
Most business success stories that you read – especially in the western world, involve bold moves and against-all-odds tales of bravery. Which is what makes Toyota so unique. They spent years studying the production lines of American carmakers such as Ford. They knew that the US car industry was more advanced and more efficient than the Japanese one. So, they waited. They studied their competitors and tried to copy what the Americans did so well. They blended these processes with the strengths of their own and came up with something even better.
Then they wrote it down and implemented it … it’s called ‘lean production’, now a phenomenon worldwide
Toyota proved that knowing your own weaknesses can be the key to success – and be one of the best business strategies you can ever deploy.
Planning sets up implementation intent; in other words, if you write it down, it’s more likely to happen than if you don’t
To find out how we can help you build your strategic planning skills, click here and take a look at our 12-month Transforming Leaders mentoring programme, which includes an MBA from a British university.