A few weeks ago, I facilitated a session at a leadership conference. One of the topics that came up was planning for the week ahead, and then sharing those plans across your team to allocate resources and align priorities. One of the leaders in the room shot up his hand, and in a skeptical tone of voice, asked, “How much time do people spend doing this planning? Wouldn’t that time be better spent doing the actual work?”
This is a common reaction to planning, whether it’s planning your individual week or your business’s annual strategic plan. Most high achievers and leaders are biased toward action. And it can feel counterproductive to slow down, step out of the day-to-day business, and create a plan.
But would you say it’s worth thirty minutes of planning each week to set yourself up to accomplish your priorities? Is it worth three days a year to create a strategic plan that, when executed, gets you closer to your vision?
Strategy Strengthens Activity
What happens when you don’t take time to plan? Without planning, we still do lots of activity, but usually not what’s most important. Instead, we work on other people’s priorities, whatever is most urgent, or whatever is easiest. We stay busy all week, every quarter, and before you know it, the year is gone. Then, we look back, exhausted and defeated, because we didn’t get any closer to achieving our vision.
Our bias toward action, and perhaps an aversion toward planning, keeps us on a treadmill until we learn that strategy strengthens activity. When we use planning and strategy to connect what we do to our most important priorities, we get a higher return on our time and energy invested.
To start creating your own strategic plan, review your three-year vision and then follow these three steps:
1.Themes. Select a theme (a word, phrase, or mantra) you want to focus on next year for each of the following core areas of your business:
- Sales & Marketing
- Operations or Production
- Finance, Administration & Human Resources
2. Outcomes. List the expected annual outcomes you’d like to see for each business area. These should be the measurable results you’re looking for. Rank the outcomes based on the highest expected impact or return on investment anticipated.
3. Projects. Decide what projects would help you achieve those outcomes. Consider the estimated project timeline and resources needed. Choose your top projects from each area and map them over an annual calendar to create your annual project roadmap.
These three steps are the foundation of your annual strategic plan. Take the time to strategically plan the themes, outcomes, and projects you will focus on each year. Use those plans to guide your priorities each quarter and week. When you and your team do this, you’ll see the return on your time and energy as you turn your vision into your new reality.
We understand building a solid strategic plan can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but Forge’s Strategic Planning Workshop is designed to provide training, support, and a distraction-free environment to help you and your leadership team streamline this process. In just three days, you’ll walk away with a well-designed strategic plan tailored specifically for your organization. That’s right, learn more and Register Today and be prepared to supercharge your growth!