Every good strategy execution starts with careful planning. Planning is the stage during which you can review the situation, understand the challenges better, set objectives, and prepare for risks. Good strategic planning makes executing big moves and completing projects easier.
For professionals and business owners, strategic planning is a must-have skill. With the market being very competitive, knowing how to plan and anticipate risks is the key to success. Fortunately, strategic planning is a skill that can be mastered, and we have just the tips to get you started.
The Big Picture
Data-driven decisions are crucially important, especially now that you have more sources of data and insights. Before making a strategic plan, take a step back and spend some time gathering information. The information you gather will allow you to see the big picture.
Seeing the big picture is about understanding your current situation and looking ahead. What are the resources you have available? What market changes do you need to anticipate? Why do you need to execute the decisions you are about to make in the first place?
The more you understand your situation, the better you will be at anticipating risks and setting objectives to achieve. This, in turn, allows you to plan meticulously and prepare for success in a more comprehensive and holistic way.
Define a Process
Planning and execution are processes, so you have to have a clear approach to them. There are many ways you can approach strategic planning, but the Hoshin planning process is the one you want to look into.
Hoshin planning has several key elements that make it effective in today’s market. It has a continuous improvement approach to planning, allowing you to refine your plans and execution accordingly. It also puts emphasis on leadership; leaders – you – are the ones setting and communicating mutual objectives.
Once you understand the Hoshin planning process you will be able to incorporate other methods – such as the Kanban system for execution – effectively.
Think About Execution
Another thing you want to do when making a strategic plan is staying realistic. You have to be extra certain that the objectives are reachable and that the plan can be executed without a glitch. This means bringing team members in and getting their input.
The goal is to get everyone excited and committed to executing the plan before the plan itself is completed. In return, you get a clear view of whether the plan you are making can be executed using the resources you have.
The process also allows you to anticipate the need for additional resources. When there are parts of the project that team members cannot handle, for instance, you can make the decision to recruit new professionals or outsource the tasks before finalizing the plan.
Set a Timeframe
Most plans fail because they are not attached to a strict and enforceable timeline. In reality, setting deadlines and taking time into consideration are parts of the strategic planning process. For example, you want to have long- and short-term objectives attached to specific deadlines for the strategic plan to work.
As you begin working on details of the plan and figuring out how tasks can be executed, time becomes even more important. These tasks need to be performed within a specific timeframe, which is why setting one ensures the success of your plan.
Similar to the plan itself, you need to be realistic when setting a timeframe. Get inputs from other stakeholders and team members so that you can set realistic deadlines that everyone can meet. This is where you start showing your ability to as a leader.
Leave Room for Changes
While creating a detailed plan is important, over-planning is still not something you want to do. Instead, you want to leave a bit of flexibility and allow your plan to be adapted to different situations. Not all risks can be mitigated, so it is easy to see how that flexibility could come in handy in the future.
Over-planning also leads to you becoming too ambitious with your goals; this too is something you want to avoid for the negative effects it brings. When the goals are too high to achieve, it is much more difficult to get team members motivated and working together.
On top of that, you want the plan to make sense. After completing your strategic plan, step away for a while and get back to the plan after a week or so. If the plan still looks good, you know you have a good plan to execute.
Rewards are always more effective than punishments. Before finalizing your strategic plan, make sure to add a clear reward and punishment system. First, set milestones for the team to achieve, both in the short run and in the long run. Tip the balance towards rewarding team members when those milestones are achieved.
The rewards themselves are not important. You don’t have to give out big bonuses and expensive treats when milestones are achieved. It is the appreciation that matters. For example, you could re-examine your travel incentives or time-off program to treat employees that have been doing a good job. It is a small thing to add to your strategic plan, but it is an element that will keep everyone motivated and in unison when it comes to achieving the goals.
Review and Evaluate
Part of the elements that make Hoshin planning so effective – and very popular – is continuous evaluation. Today, you don’t have to wait until the entire plan has been executed to perform evaluation and make adjustments. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Continuous evaluation is the way forward. After all, you now have business solutions and technology helping you collect mission-critical data and making analyzing this data easier. You can perform an evaluation at each milestone too.
The combination of these tips will make you an expert strategic planner. No matter what challenge you face and the objective you want to achieve, you can always devise a plan that gets every stakeholder excited and fully committed to achieving mutual goals. That’s how you become a better strategic planner.