What’s the most significant difference between successful business leaders and everybody else? The answer is simple: successful business leaders have a vision, and they know how to strategize and plan accordingly. And though this may sound like a process that includes specific steps and actions, it’s important to realize the process of successful planning is much more organic than that.
Whether you’re creating a business plan or a strategy to adapt a service or product to change marketplace demands, the important thing to realize is that it’s not just about checking off tasks from a fixed checklist. Though this method might allow you to measure your progress, it omits the very important fact that, in business as in life, things can change.
Forbes quotes Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, as saying, “Any plan won’t survive its first encounter with reality. The reality will always be different. It will never be the plan.”
Bezos knows what he’s talking about. Not only has he developed Amazon from an online store to the preferred shopping method of generation Y, he’s responded quickly and effectively to challenges ranging from unexpected cyber attacks to the long-term production of Kindles.
That’s why the key to planning lies in creating strategies that are resilient, that are based on where your company is currently, as well as a well-defined idea of what your goal is and what it looks like. Being resilient will allow your company to adjust to changes, take advantage of opportunities and overcome challenges.
So how can you create a resilient strategy?
- Highlight crucial capabilities and link them to your goal(s). Define what goals your company needs to achieve in order to keep clients and customers coming to you, rather than the competition. Then analyze what capabilities are essential to achieving those goals. For example, if your company wants to offer highly effective social media marketing, it needs the best analytics tools available.
- Determine what initiatives you’ll undertake to enhance and develop capabilities. Once you’ve analyzed what capabilities you need to develop or expand, create a roadmap to do just that. Plan in yearly increments and allow for periodic reviews and adjustments.
- Evaluate company priorities. Individual departments are inclined to focus solely on their individual goals. However, part of an effective and resilient plan is to always know what the priorities are company-wide. For instance, if you need to significantly increase your client base but also need to develop new products, determine which of those two goals has priority and make sure that your resources are focused there.
- Scenario planning. One of the most difficult aspects of planning is that nobody knows what the future holds. That’s why it’s essential to create scenarios for any number of realistic options. That way, no matter what happens, you’re more likely to have some information and strategies in place so you can respond in an appropriate manner to change.
- Measure and note milestones. A plan is only as good as its results. Explain to your team what your objectives are and why they are important to your company’s growth. Then regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your plan where necessary. In addition, give credit to those individuals or departments that help meet core milestones in your plan.
Keep these five points in mind when creating a plan, and you’ll find a more effective and resilient method of reaching your company’s goals, no matter what challenges lie ahead.
Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/09/23/what-jeff-bezos-knows-about-planning-vs-reality/; http://www.forbes.com/sites/boozandcompany/2013/09/26/seven-ways-to-make-your-strategic-planning-relevant/; http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/08/cios-scenario-planning-can-sol/