We’re probably all familiar with the concept of the Five P’s of Marketing, but a similar perspective can be placed upon the critical nature of the Strategic Planning Process. Here’s my take on the Five P’s of Strategic Planning…
The critical nature of mindful strategic planning cannot be overstated. For entrepreneurs, conducting a solid, annual strategic planning process can literally mean the difference between long-term, sustainable success and stagnation. Here are some key concepts you may wish to consider as you engage in your process.
1.) Perspective ~ When I refer to mindful strategic planning I’m speaking about a dynamic process of spirited debate from alternative perspectives. One in which we challenge our assumptions, and challenge each others’ assumptions. Our perspective of what we perceive as reality is strongly influenced by how we’ve been socially conditioned throughout the course of our lives. When we solely associate our selves, our image of who we are, with a belief or long-held perspective that has been conditioned into us it can create blind spots in our self and social awareness.
When entering into the planning process you will be well served to reflect upon this human conundrum. Are you clinging to self-limiting thought processes? Is your vision clear, broad, and deep or do you have the blinders on? Surrounding yourself with an eclectic, diverse team can help minimise the risk of planning from a narrow perspective. But this only works if you create an atmosphere which encourages thoughtful dissent and you support your team in such a way that you encourage risk taking and the questioning of long-held beliefs.
2.) Process ~ The most common misconception I hear from aspiring entrepreneurs relates to the value of one’s strategic plan. While the resulting document itself is an important management tool that helps keep everyone aligned and moving forward it is the planning process itself that is most valuable. I learned a long time ago that the questions we ask ourselves during the process are often more important to our success than the answers we come up with at the time.
Another common shortfall is the planning of a task without digging into the underlying process that task requires for sustainable, consistent success. If you don’t understand your critical processes they will be highly variable and erode quality. You can determine the weak points in your process by mapping out the stages and hand offs of each process in the organisation. You’ll be amazed at the level of clarity this can deliver.
3.) Passion ~ If you’re not excited about your strategic trajectory, no one else will be either. Recent research from the discipline of Applied Behavioural Economics has demonstrated the importance of engaging your prospects, associates, customers, and potential investors on both an emotional and cognitive level. Approximately 70% of economic decision making is emotionally driven, with the remaining 30% grounded in rational thought. The fact of the matter is, how people feel about your business is more important than what they think about your business. Passion resonates!
4.) Persistance ~ The strategic planning process is an iterative process. You wont come to the right conclusions on your first pass. You’ll need to comb through your plan multiple times in order to find clarity and the strategic leverage opportunities for your core competencies in your target market. Work on your plan, then set it down. Sleep on it. Come back to it fresh and see what jumps off the page. And work your plan throughout the course of the year. Refer to it often and be prepared to calibrate it as you learn more about you firm’s position in the competitive landscape.
5.) Performance ~ Upon completion, implement your plan! I cannot tell you how many times I see clients engage in a great planning process and then, upon completion, immediately go back to what they were doing before they created their plan. Your strategic plan should be a living document! Done well, it works. I know, I’ve seen this from many vantage points over the past twenty years. It is your single most important tool for success. Use it and measure your performance against your stated objectives.
Entrepreneurs are continuously seeking to capture competitive advantage. When you consider the SBA reports that less than 50% of nascent entrepreneurs begin a planning process you can see this can be your immediate leg up over much of your competition!