December is the time for all of us to reevaluate our business lives and plan for the coming year. During the remainder of December I’ll provide some thoughts each week on Planning for 2009. The topics I plan to address include:
- Check Your Alignment: December 10th
- Check Your Vision: December 17th
- Check Your Priorities: December 24th
- Check Your Plan
Make Your List
So far we’ve talked about checking your “Alignment” internally and double checking your long-term “Vision” for your company. Now it’s time to begin boiling down your Priorities into the short list for 2009.
I have learned that the most effective way to make real progress on a company Growth Plan is to have a very clear picture of where you’re headed long-term (Vision), possibly 10 or more years in the future, and then a crystal clear understanding of your Top Five Priorities for the next three months. This approach of Vision and Priorities represent the bookends on your action plan.
Why is this approach effective? Because our world, markets and customers are changing so fast these days that traditional strategic planning with a 2-4 year timeframe is largely ineffective. Think about it for a minute, could you have predicted all of the changes that have occurred in 2008? I doubt it very much. And it has probably made any strategic plan you developed irrelevant. A much better approach is to be very clear on where you’re headed long-term, based on the Core Values and Core Purpose that you want to protect, and a clear eyed Vision for what you hope to become. Then augment this Vision with a consensus-driven and practical short-list of priorities for the next quarter to make progress one step at a time.
Monday Morning Exercise
Try the following exercise on a Monday morning soon; heck if everyone’s working on December 29th try it then, since most of your staff are cleaning out their drawers anyway.
Gather everyone and have an honest discussion about the
Ask your staff to rank both lists by importance for 2009. Talk about the top three or four on each list so everyone understands and agrees with the rationale for each one. Now pick the Top Five, either plus or minus, and you have a beginning for your Priorities List.
Some examples might be:
- Sales – become more outwardly focused to find new customers
- Marketing – develop a practical approach to integrate marketing and sales priorities in a way that can be measured in terms of bookings
- Production – do everything you can to streamline operations, take waste out of your processes and become more profitable
- Finance – improve your knowledge of costs and margins for every job and customer you have so you know which ones are profitable and which ones aren’t
- Communications – improve internal communications so everyone in the company understands the priorities for the next quarter and what it means to them
Good luck, next week we’ll talk about how to weave all of this together into a plan for 2009.
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania, OH – he specializes in Growth Strategy Consulting & Executive Coaching, Charlie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org