Strategic thinking and planning — Why bother?

It is the people and businesses who make time for planning, though, who experience significant expansion, growth and satisfaction.

It is the people and businesses who make time for planning, though, who experience significant expansion, growth and satisfaction.

by Loretta Love Huff — 

Many people balk at the idea of planning, believing there just is not time. It is the people and businesses who make time for planning, though, who experience significant expansion, growth and satisfaction. Three basic assessments can make the difference between surviving and thriving.

  1. What’s our current performance?
  2. In what kind of environment are we operating?
  3. How will we get to the future we envision?

Current performance

Start by taking time to figure out how well you did with the goals you set last year. Identify what helped or hindered your progress. Document what you learned in the process, and make sure you share that knowledge with everyone who could benefit from it. Look for ways to streamline your work and eliminate unnecessary activities. Track activities and results that indicate you’re moving in the right direction. Ignore the past and you’ll keep fighting the same kinds of fires, rather than gaining ground on what’s important.

The environment

No one operates inside a vacuum. Wise planning can mitigate the impact of outside forces on the success of your enterprise. Keep abreast of industry trends. Identify what you must do to keep up or take the lead in your market. Profile your ideal customers and strategize about how you can attract more of them.

The future

You must know where you are going or you’ll end up paddling upstream against the current. Understand where your revenue should come from and where it actually comes from. Assess how you can improve profits by selling more to fewer customers or “productizing” custom work and intellectual capital. Make a list of the skills you will need to accomplish next year’s goals and create a plan to acquire them.

Get input from your staff, clients and vendors to gain different perspectives and open up brand new vistas for your company. Have everyone share their written goals and make sure they are all aligned. You may think you cannot afford the time to plan, but in reality, you really cannot afford not to.

 

Loretta Love Huff is president and principal consultant of Emerald Harvest Consulting, LLC, Your Performance Improvement Partner™. She is a leadership coach and performance improvement consultant. 602-454-7787, loretta@emharv.com or www.emeraldharvest.com. 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 1, February/March 2006.

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