is actually a misnomer, because people usually think
of a strategic plan as a volume of excruciating detail
on how the company will move forward. Actually, the most
successful strategic plans are very simple. The more
detailed a plan becomes the more dysfunctional it becomes.
Stop reading for a minute and let that thought sink in,
because that idea is critical.
Why is less more powerful? There are several reasons.
Short and targeted plans are more likely
to be developed because they don't become a burden.
The details will need to change over time
as the business environment develops around your business.
So why waste time focusing on details that will never
The shorter plan is more flexible, because
its creators aren't defending all the details they spent
so much time creating.
Simple and easy to use plans tend to get
used instead of getting placed on bookshelves to collect
In essence, strategic planning is about making choices—not
planning. In other words, the process is about defining
the direction of your business. It's about identifying
your company's opportunities and how to take advantage
of those opportunities. The reality is both people and
companies that look into the future are more successful.
Without a direction it's easy to get blindsided. For
this reason, strategic planning is a business' first
building block to success because it creates its foundation.
Buildings without a sound foundation don't survive and
neither do businesses.
There is no need to improve your marketing program,
if you are marketing to the wrong prospects. There is
no need to improve your systems, if you are building
the wrong buildings. Instead, the first step is to determine
the best path for your business, or your strategic plan.
What you need to do!
Instead of a large bureaucratic document, what's needed
is a lean adaptable one or two page guide. If it's only
a couple of pages, it's easy to carry around and more
important understand. Then every major company decision
can be measured against the strategic plan to
make sure the decision moves the company in the right
A strategic plan has five key elements. The first two
are the vision and the mission statements. The vision
statement defines how the company wants to see itself.
The mission statement defines how company wants the customer
to perceive it. Both should extend ten years or so. It's
unrealistic to plan beyond that and anything shorter
will create too much fluctuation in the planning process.
The next element of the strategic plan is the list of
objectives or goals. These should consist of eight to
eleven specific goals that cover all aspects of the business
and are measurable. The vision is the big picture, while
the objectives focus on specific goals that must be accomplished
to achieve the vision. The objectives are the equivalent
of project milestones.
The fourth element is the strategies or the specific
means and methods necessary to achieve the objectives.
Without strategies the objectives are mere dreams. The
objectives and strategies should reach out three to five
years. The construction industry and its environment
change too frequently to attempt to plan beyond that,
therefore detailed planning beyond that is useless. However,
unless you look into the future, you are likely to get
blindsided. This doesn't mean that your goals and strategies
can't be adjusted; in fact, they must if your plan is
to remain flexible and realistic. However, you need direction
to remain focused.
However, the key to achieving the desired results from
your strategic plan is the development of the final step – the
action plan where you prioritize your actions for the
next 90 days. In this step, you actual do some planning
for the next 90 days, but this is totally different than
what it would be like to plan company actions for the
next five to ten years. A 90-day look ahead is realistic
and comparable with what you do on any construction project.
In essence, in this step you identify the specific actions
that you must perform during the next 90 days to achieve
your objectives on schedule. The important action is
to prioritize what you need to do—then do it! This process
will create a dynamic strategic plan that moves your
company forward. Start building the foundation for you
business right now!
* * * * * THE END * * * * *
About the Author:
Ted Garrison is the author of Strategic Planning
for Contractors. As president of Garrison
Associates he is a catalyst for change. As a consultant,
author and speaker he works with businesses in the construction
industry to grow their business by improving profit margins
and increasing productivity. He can be reached at 800-861-0874
or by email at StrategicPlanning@TedGarrison.com.
For further information see his web page at www.StrategicPlanningforContractors.com.
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