Jeff Nock Outlines Key Concepts of Strategic Planning
Jeff Nock, Iowa based Executive Consultant and CEO and Founder of Prescient Consulting, LLC, further explores certain key elements of strategic planning. Specifically, he explains that the effectiveness of the strategic planning process goes beyond setting forth the business’s vision for success and sustainability or communicating its purpose and value to customers, employees, and partners in a clear, concise manner.
The Jeff Nock Iowa business and executive consultancy firm works with a variety of companies. Founders in the startup space to leaders of established small and mid-cap companies lean on Jeff Nock Iowa based consultancy for advice and coaching assistance to excel and differentiate in their industry. An important step to unlocking long-term success is through the strategic planning process.
Strategic planning is pivotal to the long-term success of your company. Too many companies “wing it” day to day and may have short term success but ultimately they don’t realize their potential because they didn’t take the time to think about what that potential could be and how they can execute to achieve that potential. A good strategic plan is a living, dynamic process which projects the actions required to achieve potential. Understanding the important strategies and tactics of this plan and how to execute and measure success along the way provide a successful blueprint for any company.
You create a plan that captures the strategies that each area of your company will execute over prescribed periods of time (often quarterly-annual). Once these strategies are defined and assigned as lead responsibility to one leader per strategy, each strategy must define one or more Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs will be measured in real-time or weekly whenever possible or monthly if necessary. For example, Sales could have a monthly KPI of $100,000 in revenue. For a mature organization that would be $25,000 per week. For a newer faster-growing company it might be $22,000 in week 1, $24,000 in week 2, $26,000 in week 3, and $28,000 in week 4.
Jeff Nock Iowa consultant explains the importance of planning and the important elements of your strategic plan
A saying of the Jeff Nock Iowa executive and business consultant company is that businesses who fail to plan, fail to know if they have succeeded. Moreover, plans that are written but never executed waste valuable time and resources. All this is to say that a strategic planning process for your business is an important first step. But the execution of that plan is more important.
Your plan is more than a collection of words on a piece of paper. They are the culmination of evaluating your internal core competencies, reading the market, identifying your niche, developing strategies to leverage those core competencies, and executing on those strategies within your focused niche.
The important aspects of your company’s strategic plan are:
- Vision statement – This statement identifies what impact your company would have in a perfect world. Using Goodwill as an example, the vision of Goodwill is that all people with barriers to independence would have overcome those barriers and be living an abundant life.
- Mission statement – Since we don’t live in a perfect world, companies are not able to achieve their vision, so a Mission Statement is what they do to add value and for who. Using Goodwill as an example again, Goodwill’s mission is to advance the well-being of people who experience barriers to independence.
To summarize using the Goodwill examples, many people are born with disabilities or have accidents that cause disabilities or experience other life challenges that cause them not to be able to maintain employment or basic social lives. The Goodwill vision is that all these people will overcome these issues and live great lives. The reality is that some disabilities can not be eliminated, so the vision will never be achieved. But the mission of advancing the well-being of these people is a clear beacon that enables all employees and stakeholders to stay focused on why they do the work they do and for who.
- Culture Statement – a statement of shared beliefs and modes of behavior that define your workplace culture. People are motivated intrinsically and one of the top reasons that people excel and enjoy working with companies is because they align with and are motivated by the culture they work in. Culture statements should not be cliché statements like “work hard and earn profits.” Founders, owners, and CEOs should set the mark for the environment they want to or have established and ensured that people who are hired fit within that culture.
- SWOT analysis – an important element of the strategic plan, a SWOT takes a look at your company’s strengths-weaknesses (internal), and opportunities and threats (external). This can then be used to clarify core competencies so strategies can be identified to leverage those core competencies, a weakness which can be shored up, partnerships that can increase market share or address weaknesses, and competitive factors that can affect strategies like pricing and market locations.
- Strategies These are the major company-initiatives that are the most important projects to complete during the prescribed timeframes within the plan. Each strategy must have one person accountable for leading the charge. The strategies must align with the company mission.
- Tactics (with key performance indicators or KPIs) – For each strategy, three or so tactics must be identified (similar to project planning) that will be executed to achieve the defined strategy.
Jeff Nock Iowa consultant on strategy setting
A strategy setting is an essential element for achieving a company’s potential. Companies who know what their mission is and take the time to think through what the most important strategies are to accomplish that mission are proven to be more successful than companies that merely work hard to achieve the opportunities that come up. One strategy setting methodology begins with a broad statement that uses bold words such as “enhance” or “empower.” From these broad statements come enumerated objectives (i.e. Strategy 1, Tactics 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc.) which break down specific measures for meeting the goal.
This drill-down approach is important as it allows you to focus aspects of the strategy to the departments(s) accountable for achieving that strategy. For example, Jeff Nock Iowa leadership consultant explains a strategy such as “empowering patients to improve their healthcare outcomes” for a small medical practice could involve tactics such as:
- – Improve technology interface for patients for scheduling and accessing/updating medical records.
- – Increase availability and access for patients 24/7.
- – Waive fees associated with initial consultations and overhaul fee schedule for certain diagnostic tests to further reduce barriers to access.
You can see that within these three tactics related to Strategy #1 (“empowering patients to improve their healthcare outcomes”), the practice has drilled down enough to involve elements of its administrative staff, finance, and medical staff. This means responsibility has been assigned where appropriate.
Strategies are important aspects of the strategic plan. It is equally important to create meaningful tactics that relate best to the strategies you outline in the plan. With these tactics, you must create measurable KPIs that are sensible and best indicate progress toward the completion of a strategy and objective. In the example above, for tactic 1, a KPI could show a month-to-month positive change in the number of patient logins to access their personal health records over a period of 3 or 6 months. KPIs do not have to be complicated, just a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) metric useful in validating results.
Ongoing plan leadership according to Jeff Nock Iowa based business coaching CEO is essential
So often companies put months of time and energy into strategic planning, have a big launch party…and then go back to the same day to day activity. Nothing changes and strategies are not accomplished and potential mission fulfillment is not seen. A key to the successful execution of a leadership plan is a day to day leader within the company who is ultimately responsible for the completion of the plan. That person can either be the CEO or a COO type. This person must be both detail-oriented and a motivator of people. As many founders and CEOs are visionary sales types and are more valuable in the market with customers or thinking ahead on upcoming strategies, sometimes the COO or Operations Director takes the point on strategic plan execution.
Ongoing communication is imperative in order to execute a good strategic plan. The plan leader should meet in regular intervals (weekly or monthly) to review KPI performance, celebrate success, address challenges, and iteratively adjust action where necessary. Department heads must then meet with each of their teams and make sure that each person in the company is completing work that is connected to the strategies and tactics of the overall plan. Each person must feel connected to the plan and feel they are making a contribution in order for the company to achieve its ultimate potential.
Another aspect of plan leadership for work teams is internal and external feedback. As defined by Jeff Nock Iowa based CEO for business advancement, feedback is the opportunity for customers and employees to send and receive positive (and critical) feedback from peers, supervisors, and others necessary to evaluate and improve performance. An example of how to gather customer feedback would be the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is a third-party evaluation tool that allows customers to give their vendors feedback. Companies can then compare their score vs industry norms and celebrate or adjust accordingly.
Internal feedback can be conducted at the end of each project or time period. The 360 personnel review has been used for annual employee reviews but now more and more companies are taking the time to do a project review or quarterly review of their teams and the teams they work with. Done within a healthy culture (constructive feedback versus critical feedback) can result in great ongoing continuous improvement.
The integration of customer feedback with internal team communication benefits in the elimination of built-up frustration and enables the continuance of processes that are working and the adjustment of those that are not.
Setting mission-focused strategies, thinking through and assigning SMART tactics that will enable those strategies to be achieved, and creating ongoing customer and internal team feedback results in the successful execution of well thought out strategic plans. This allows companies to work within a culture they enjoy, to achieve their potential, make their biggest impact on the world possible, and enable each employee to feel valued as contributors to the overall success of the company.