The Anatomy of an Effective Strategic Plan

What is a strategic plan? In short, “a strategic plan defines the business the organization  intends to be in, the kind of organization it wants to be, and the kind of economic and non-economic contribution it will make to its stakeholders, employees, customers and community.”

To create an effective strategic plan an organization’s leaders must first clearly understand their business and what business they really want to be in. They must also conduct and have SWOT Analysis, customer research (including non-customers), economic, government (industry laws and regulations data), and technology (current and forecasting trends) accurate data available.

Once this information is available and carefully analyzed, leaders must discuss their intention to shift strategy with their team. All company departments should be given the opportunity to share ideas and express concerns. After the Voice of Employee has been acquired the strategic plan can begin.

An effective strategic plan is composed of the following:

  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Key Customer Value Factors
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Visual KPI Metrics
  • Contingency and Preventative Plans

To be effective, a strategic plan must be visual and are not meant to be paper documents that sit on shelves nor Word or PowerPoint documents that are only seen once. The CEO (top management) must also gain support from respected and persuasive key personnel that will drive buy-in to the new strategic plan and discourage opposition. Effective leaders align the strategic plan with daily business activities by translating what needs to be accomplished into how it will be accomplished. They give each department clear responsibilities and performance expectations instead of sending out a memo company-wide that this year they want to increase revenue by $10 million. In short, strategic goals are distributed in small batches.

Effective leaders ensure employees are given clear responsibilities and performance expectations; and are given timely rewards for achieving goals. They also ensure that the strategic plan contains clear objectives, provides and utilizes measures of performance, clear due dates and is visual.

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Tricks for driving growth and revenue

To drive growth and increase revenue a company must understand current and potential customers and identify uncontested opportunity in the industry. Below are a few tricks for driving growth and revenue:

  1. Gather more information from customers that hate you, are apprehensive about you, or don’t know you to identify opportunities to enter into new markets.
  2. Talk to more customers and answer more customer emails.
  3. Have more lunches with customers.
  4. Focus on products, services or solutions currently not being offered in the industry because realizing an opportunity in this aspect will prompt first-to-market revenue opportunities.
  5. Invest in your most profitable products, services or solutions and do away with the ones that erode profitability. For example, Southwest Airlines differentiated itself by not getting into the food business (low-cost business design) like its competitors instead it focused on providing customers with a great experience instead.
  6. Gain strategic dominance in atleast 2 or more of the following  (e.g., branding, patent, copyright, value chain control, 2 year product lead, 20% cost advantage, control distribution, supply control, customer information flow, unique organizational culture, et cetera) “The Profit Zone by Adrian Slywotzky”
  7. Stay abreast of industry and customer behavior and purchasing changes for the purpose of redesigning your business design to meet these new demands.

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