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My Business in 2024 – Creating the Vision and Executing the Plan

Rob SummersBy: Rob Summers, Senior Business Advisor

What is next for my business? Where will we be in five years? What threats are on the horizon that will disrupt my business and change the landscape I compete in? As a business leader, these are important questions to guide decision making, capital investments, and strategy. Some businesses have clear answers for these questions. Others are coasting on successful business plans from years past, vulnerable to change, and susceptible to disruption. Which category are you in?

Strategic planning is an important tool for organizations to understand the landscape they compete in, how they will navigate in it, and how to keep employees linked to and engaged with the big picture. In today’s business environment, business agility is important; there are constant threats and disruptions in most industries and being in front of those can make or break a business. Consider some of these findings from reputable organizations such as McKinsey Institute and Harvard Business School:

  • Only 23 percent of companies use a formal strategic planning process to make important strategic decisions. In 52 percent of companies, a small senior group makes these decisions.
  • Two out of three human resources and information technology departments develop plans that are not linked to the company’s overall strategy.
  • Ninety-five percent of employees do not understand their company’s strategy.

The stats highlight the disconnection created in an organization without a clear strategy.

During my time working for Goodrich, amidst things we got wrong, there were a few we really got right. Strategic planning was one of those. In organizations with a strong strategic planning process, the organizational vision and mission is clear to leadership as well as employees. This is an important foundation to provide the entire team with passion for the work and for the organization. Recent studies highlight the increasing importance of this connection, particularly amongst Gen Y and millennial employee populations who strive more for purpose in their work effort than past generations.

A successful strategic planning process will also produce connectivity within the business, providing the sensation we’re all pulling on the rope in the same direction. It provides rationale for managers to make decisions which support the long-term direction of the organization, rather than what may be best for their particular area of the business. A good strategic plan will connect our long-term goals to the actions we are taking today to get there. Employees at all levels of the organization will see the link between their work and the plan which will provide motivation for teammates to achieve progress.

Ideally, organizations engage in strategic planning efforts every three to five years. The trend of shortening innovation cycles in business and significant market disruption from new entrants underscores the importance of picking our heads up out from the day-to-day work and ultimately assessing and agreeing on a path forward. Many organizations use tools such as the X-matrix to inform their teams of the plan and it’s linkage to individuals as well as the A3 to track and manage progress along the way.

In the lean world, we are taught the 4P’s, originating in the Toyota organization--Philosophy, Process, People, and Problem Solving. Strategic planning provides the organization with our long-term philosophy, casting the vision onto the horizon, and giving us direction to benchmark against. It provides us a process to flow down our next steps through the organization to our people, who gain inspiration from this connection. This inspiration provides energy for our people to power our problem-solving efforts, which advance us to our goals. The philosophy element sets the tone for the organization and is the bellwether for leadership to lean on and benchmark progress against. No doubt, organizations that are strong with strategic planning are providing the proper platform for sustainable growth and bringing energy to their people to be creative in finding the path to get to that successful future.

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