If your professional experience is anything like mine, you probably find yourself spending more time on daily issues than you would like. And this pattern probably prevents you from doing the long-term planning that would make your job easier in the future.
Organizations often experience this potentially crippling dynamic as well. With so many people focused on putting out the “fires” of the day, it can be difficult to dedicate the time and resources necessary to plan for the long-term and develop strategic direction for the organization. Unfortunately, without a winning strategic plan to guide it, any organization is likely to flounder in the wake of quickly shifting priorities.
So, what is an organization to do?
First, let’s establish that there are no "one size fits all" rules for creating a winning business strategy. That said, there are key ingredients for creating a strategic plan that will help your organization grow and prosper, regardless of your industry.
The business strategy techniques and tools outlined in Community Tool Box strategic planning paper from the University of Kansas is a great place to start. The technique, called VMOSA, contains key components to help any organization develop a strategic plan, and includes:
- Action plans
Not coincidentally, these are the key ingredients in all effective strategic plans. Organizations of all sizes should address these ingredients in developing their business strategy. Leaving any one of these out of the planning process increases the risk of falling short of your goals.
Why VMOSA Works
Among the reasons we recommend you consider using this method are:
- This process contains all the key ingredients of a strong strategic plan.
- VMOSA solidifies your organization's goals, even if they are only in the idea phase.
- This technique lends itself to groups, as most CEOs realize is typically the best way to keep everyone engaged and on the same strategic page.
- This method allows you to target short-term goals while keeping your organization's eyes on the long-term prize.
Using the Key Components Wisely
The CEO and senior management likely has a focused vision for the current and future of their organizations. It's imperative that C-level executives include their shared vision into a successful business strategy.
Your company's mission should be much more than a politically correct "feel good" statement. Your mission statement should embody the values of the organization, to which you will always remain true. A good mission statement should include a clear, concise expression of the company's purpose, philosophy and commitment.
Along with your company's short- and long-term goals, your objectives should state the specific objectives your business strategy will accomplish as well as a timeline outlining when management believes the company will reach them. In all cases, your company's objectives should focus on achieving the broader goals as displayed in your mission statement.
This is the "how" you will achieve your goals and objectives. While strategic planning groups often express different ideas of how to reach the outcomes your strategies target, brainstorming and free discussion typically results in agreement on a business strategy or strategies that should work. Even in smaller organizations, CEOs should try to involve as many people as possible. This is more important than just keeping everyone on the same page. You often learn that staff members have winning ideas that need to be considered. Perhaps more important, though, is that inclusion creates buy-in, and any winning strategy will need engaged employees to be successful.
Clearly, great vision and mission statements are useless if not acted upon. Action plans are the engines that make strategic plans succeed. Creating detailed action plans that include what is to be done, who is accountable for it, and when it is due, is an ingredient commonly glossed over in strategic planning. Too many organizations create outstanding strategies without attaching specific action plans, and so they gather dust until the next strategic planning meeting.
The ever-changing nature of contemporary business demands that you must be ready to modify your business strategy when needed, often on short notice. As long as your strategies are working, keep at it. Should your strategies find some potholes or detours, be willing to tweak them to get your company back on point.
In all cases, dedicate the time needed to create business strategies that fit what your organization can sustain. Including the key ingredients above will help ensure your strategic plans will achieve the results you desire.
And, since most organizations can utilize content to engage both current and prospective customers, our Using An Integrated Content Marketing Strategy article may be of specific interest to you for further reading.