Much has been written about the pros and cons of business planning and when you throw in the word strategic, it supposedly adds a degree of credibility to the process. But, as we all well know, this can be more often about the exercise and, sadly, less about the execution.
The reality is we cannot predict the future nor can we drive a car looking through the rear view mirror. So why do planning at all? Roger L Martin in his HBR article “The Lie about Strategic Planning” contends that most businesses are stuck in what he terms a “Comfort Zone”; this is simply the process where it’s easy to talk and put it to paper. However “True Strategy” is about execution; where discomfort and apprehension prevails; placing bets and making hard choices. Here the objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success.
Many view strategy as being only for large corporations and perhaps this is so because these are the large bastions of bureaucracy where the so called “Comfort Zone” can operate undetected. However when it comes to lean organizations and entrepreneurial endeavors, “True Strategy” is the only option. Martin goes further to emphasize the three elements of this type of strategic thinking:
1. Keep it simple
2. Don’t look for perfection
3. Be very clear on what needs to change
These are simple yet valuable insights for small business owners, whether your own coaching practice or some other venture. By being clear on these, the execution becomes less daunting, flexibility and adaptability is part of the natural order and, most importantly, change is seen as the ally to success.
So rather than get consumed by the text book process of strategic planning, simply answer the following and keep on reviewing / revising.
- What is your business?
- Who are your clients?
- How will you satisfy your client needs?
- What do you need to do to achieve this?
- What do you need to change to achieve this?
- What is your timeline for implementation?