Business Planning

Is Your Strategic Annual Plan A Bust? Revive It With These Three Strategies

I serve as the visionary at EOS Worldwide with a passion for helping entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses.

Strategic annual planning remains a tried-and-true event at many companies. During these meetings, leaders put their heads together and trace out a direction for the coming year. Sounds easy, right? Not really: Many studies have found that 60% to 90% of strategic plans never get off the ground.

Strategic plans aren’t magical documents. Yet, many leaders use these meetings to create wish lists of what they would like to see, do or accomplish in one year. You can certainly write anything you want in your strategic plan. However, if you don’t lay the groundwork and create a structure to make the plan come to life, you won’t get the returns you want. This is the same reason most people who create New Year’s resolutions never follow through with them. A vision without the infrastructure to make it a reality is nothing more than a pipe dream.

This is where the concept of setting attainable strategic goals comes into play. When you connect specific goals to your strategic plan, you set yourself up for success. For example, if you want to lose weight through exercise, you need to allot a certain amount of time to work out each week and treat that time as sacred. Rinse, repeat and by February, you may be happier with what the scale says. The same can be said for business plans.

It can be challenging to know how to come up with goals that drive new habits if you don’t have prior experience. However, following a process of crowdsourcing, chunking and reviewing can help you establish and fulfill your goals and ultimately bring your annual plans to fruition in the long run.

A Three-Step Journey For Setting Better Strategic Goals

After you’ve figured out the big picture for your strategic plan, get together with your leadership team and start asking questions. Talk about your company’s core values, focus, 10-year target and marketing strategy. Work together to determine how each of these items relates to your one-year strategic plan.

The more you discuss these topics, the easier it will be to develop goals you need to achieve within the next 12 months. Aim for no more than three to seven goals. Otherwise, you’ll overwhelm yourself—and everyone else at the company. Everyone has a multitude of competing priorities at any given time, so try not to take on too much at once. Focusing on a smaller number of goals means you’re more likely to complete them, ensuring your overall plan will stay on the fast track to success.

It’s also important to break your larger goals into 90-day chunks. A chunk doesn’t need to be hard-tied to the one-year plan. However, each mini goal should be related enough to the big picture to move your company closer to the finish line. Though this sounds like a piece of cake, you might receive opposition in some instances. You might find that the people you work with become resistant to the goals. That’s OK. Discovering potential issues early on gives you time to figure out ways to solve them.

With all your macro and micro goals in place, you can start to execute your annual strategic plan. Just remember to review your progress quarterly. Make sure the same leaders are involved each time and hash out any concerns before making big decisions. Additionally, remaining disciplined enough to follow up every three months can have a positive effect on everyone’s commitment to the plan. In time, you’ll even be able to talk about how you can support your organizational effort to reach your upcoming goals.

Providing Necessary Support To Make Goals Happen

Your company and team can only fulfill the goals you’ve outlined if your leaders provide 100% support every step of the process. Here are tactics you can use to show your commitment to strategic planning success and overall business prosperity:

1. Deliver quarterly state-of-the-company addresses.

The average person must see or hear something seven times before its message sinks in. That’s one of the reasons you should deliver quarterly state-of-company addresses. Use these events to review your vision, talk about where you’ve been, explain where you are and forecast where you want to go next. Doing so can help keep key players on the same page and allow employees to feel comfortable about the progress being made.

2. Keep delivering addresses consistently.

Expect your first address to be met with little fanfare. The second one should attract more attention. By the seventh, you’ll have established these meetings as expected habits of the company. Accordingly, your goals should have more impact and people might begin to ask for resources to achieve them if needed. Consistency is the key to meeting goals and seeing your strategic plans come to life.

3. Give every employee ownership of at least one goal.

Want buy-in toward your plan and goals to happen faster? Make team members accountable in some way. This can be done by using a scorecard to measure weekly progress. Keeping track of progress ensures that employees are both involved and responsible for the overall business plan and helps regulate numbers and growth. It also lets people see that they have a purpose and are responsible for something important.

According to W. Edwards Deming, “every system is perfectly designed to produce the results it gets.” If you don’t think your strategic plans are working out, you’re incorrect. They’re working exactly the way you’ve designed them. To get different results, you need to refine your system and implement manageable goals that can help everyone get involved in the overall advancement of your business plan. If your goals are specific, attainable and actionable, your plan can be successful as well.

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