I’m a great believer in the stepping stones concept, because if you want to cross a fast flowing stream and don’t want to get wet, you need stepping stones to help you across. The key stone, is the one nearest the bank, your next step and this needs to be close enough to the bank, to encourage your first move across the stream. You also need to see the way across the stream, after this first stone.
I recommend the following strategic planning process, which includes the stepping stones across the stream that you operate, when advising and facilitating clients:
- Articulate the Most Important Things for ALL owners and find out how they truly FEEL about things now and how they want them to be in the form of their personal objectives and aims.
- Debate and agree collective aligned Agreed Strategic Objectives over the next 3 to 5 years and these are the business goals and are outcomes that are specific, achievable and measurable.
- Reflect on the key issues and opportunities to get from now to the Strategic Objectives – essentially the stepping stones.
- Based upon 1 to 3, look at the next 5 years in terms of a realistic financial business model.
- Based upon 1 to 4, prioritise the projects for the next 12 months.
- Based upon 1 to 5, agree the next step initial actions.
- Record all this in a simple plan and a 12-month Road Map to visually set the path forwards.
That’s my recommended best practice strategic planning process and of course this is reflected in The Strategic Planning Toolkit, although it’s really more a business success process and it hasn’t changed much since I first created it.
This is despite years of input, usage and feedback from accountants using it with their clients all around the world. Basically, people are people and the behavioural science behind goal setting and action, remains fairly constant.
I know some high-tech companies say they have to strategically plan weekly, because so much changes so quickly in their fields and to some extent this is true, although I suspect its tactics that change rapidly, not strategy.
However, for most of us in business, an annual cycle is sufficient and feels comfortable and familiar.