“If you don’t know where you want to go, then any road will take you there,” said the rabbit to Alice in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” when she was faced with a directional decision. The same can be said for Collier County business leaders trying to plot the future of their companies. Especially in this uncertain economic climate, outlining a strategic plan and a vision of where you want to go is critical to the success of your organization.
Perhaps Kathleen Passidomo said it best, “Where are we going to be in a month, two months from now?” in regards to the recently formed citizens task force focusing on economic recovery in Collier County. The task force is a good example of the challenge many organizations face when it comes to strategic planning, as starting the process is the most difficult part.
So what exactly is a strategic plan? While no two plans will ever be assembled or viewed the same, the nature of a strategic plan has common ground. It is the large overview of the business and a projection of your desire for its future. In business parlance, it’s the 40,000-foot look down on the business. On a timeline, this would include the past, the present and the future of the company—where it was, where it is, and where it is going in years to come.
Over time, I have learned the crucial difference between static strategic planning and dynamic strategic planning: it’s an ongoing process. Since this is to be a process and not a snapshot document, certain aspects of the plan will inevitably need to be revised as time goes by. How often you review the overall strategy is a function of the speed of change around you. You might agree that we have experienced swift market changes throughout the past few months, therefore, the review process needs to occur more frequently than in stable times. I’m not advocating abandoning all plans at every change you encounter, but corrections in a timely manner may make the difference between survival and extinction in the quickly changing environment in which we live.
In their book, “It’s not the BIG that eat the SMALL…it’s the FAST that eat the SLOW: How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business,” Jason Jennings and Lawrence Haughton make a great observation that the traditional thinking that big companies always dominate small companies is quickly going by the wayside. Their contention is that fast, nimble companies can outperform the slow-to-react ones. Seeing trends ahead of others and having the willingness to act upon those trends will lead to winning the race. Another critical part of this process is to share the strategic plan with your team. In times of change, your team will especially want to be familiar with the plan for a sense of security.
Simply remember the three R’s as the key to making a strategic planning process live in your company: reviewing, refining, and repeating the plan, all in a timely fashion. Just saying it will be so does not make it happen. Implementation of the practical and practical “how to” components is what makes a strategic plan come to life and allows goals to be more than mere dreams.
The road from where you are today to where you want to be is not always straight. For your business to successfully navigate Collier’s winding economic road, a strategic plan must be implemented and used as your business’ roadmap to the future.