Obstacles and roadblocks to executing plans are legendary. I’ve heard all sort of comments, complaints and reasons for why plans fail, but the biggest problem in my experience is lack of alignment internally within the company.
In this third part of this series on Removing Obstacles to Planning, I’ll cover a few tools any company would benefit from using during the planning process to ensure internal alignment is achieved before the plan is executed.
Tools to Use During Planning
Reaffirm Core Values and Core Purpose
At the beginning of the planning process it is critical to clarify and confirm your Core Values, in other words “What does your company stand for?”. What values inherently express the things your company is really serious about doing? Start this dialog with your management team before you get too far down the road with planning. Examples of Core Values from a recent strategic planning process, include the following:
- Respect: Valuing and respecting the dignity and worth of all people.
- Integrity: Practicing honesty, fairness, and openness in all that we do.
- Stewardship: Utilizing resources in ways that minimize waste and benefit all
What are your Core Values?
Core Purpose on the other hand relates to “What your company does best”. Again, it’s critical to clarify or confirm your Core Purpose at the beginning of the planning process. The goal is to understand what you are best at doing today and what you can be the best at in the future by focusing on your businesses’ respective strengths. Examples of Core Purpose are:
- 3M: To solve problems innovatively
- Nike: To experience the emotion of competition, winning, and crushing competitors
- Boeing: To push the leading edge of aviation, taking on huge challenges and doing what others cannot do
- Walt Disney: To make people happy
- WalMart: To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people
So what is it that explains what your company does best and is your Core Purpose? A good test of Core Purpose is what you tell people that have no knowledge of your business what you actually do. It’s also the reason your employees work at your company.
Clearly Understanding Core Values and Core Purpose at the onset of a strategic planning process will build the foundation for a more successful plan. It will also help you understand the competitive advantages your company has in the markets you serve.
Clarify Your Vision
Another tool to use at the beginning of your strategic planning process is to think expansively about the Vision for the future your company has. This should be 10 years or more in the future and be something more substantial than financial targets. I recommend you develop this vision with your management team and strive to really stretch your ideas about what your company has the potential to become. Ask yourself what it will be like to work at your company ten years from now, what you will be doing then that your aren’t doing now, what types of products you will be selling, new markets you will be selling to and who your customers will be.