My role as a Vistage chair and executive coach includes encouraging CEOs to do strategic planning every year.
Many CEOs don’t have a strategic planning process and just continue working as they always have. That’s unfortunate because they have no way to determine if they’re on course or woefully off course.
Whether you’re new to strategic planning or a seasoned planner, you should address a variety of important attributes of your business. Of course, there will be subsets of each, but these are the foundation of your business.
I love the model suggested by Keith Cupp, founder of Gravitas Impact Premium Coaches. It includes seven key attributes and allows the company to be agile and change in size or scale.
1. The leadership attribute
This is about ensuring that the leadership team is authentic, healthy and aligned. Are team members free to have healthy disagreements with one another, including with the CEO? As the CEO, are you open, vulnerable and amenable to ideas that are not yours?
2. The talent attribute
This calls for having the right people to build a culture of accountability, which delivers results. Are team members able to hold one another accountable? Do they have a “the buck stops here” mentality when it comes to taking responsibility for their areas?
3. The strategy attribute
This is about competitive differentiation, leading to strong top-line revenue growth. What is your competitive advantage? What would your customers say is different about your company vs. your competitors? Are you able to leverage your competitive advantage to gain more market share?
4. The execution attribute
This means having an efficient system to convert revenue into profit. While top-line revenue is important, you want to be able to convert that additional revenue into profit. This is where most companies fail.
5. The customer attribute
This focuses on your ideal core customers, their problems that need solutions and the experience you offer to delight them. Who are your raving fans? Do you treat all of your customers equally? What must your company do to attract more raving fans?
6. The profit attribute
This attribute creates fuel for growth. It means having abundant cash to develop multiple desirable options and making wise decisions.
Let’s face it. Without profit, your choices are going to be limited. You won’t be able to take advantage of opportunities to gain market share, make acquisitions and do proper research and development.
7. The systems attribute
This focuses on having the right infrastructure, processes and technology that allow your company to change in size or scale, efficiently and profitably. Having the right systems and processes in place can help you find the cash you need to accomplish this.
After you’ve addressed these attributes, you are ready to develop a one-page roadmap that you can follow and update quarterly to track your progress.
How to use your summary sheet
This is your scorecard. It explains how you will measure if you are successful or not. Your senior leadership team will own its portion of the plan and give regular reports during your leadership team meetings (I hope you’re doing those at least monthly, though weekly is better).
You can track each area with some sort of code. I’m a fan of using colors.
Green: On target
Yellow: Within 10% of target or not yet being worked on
Red: Danger zone – greater than 10% of target
This way, you can look at your one-page plan easily and know, in an instant, which areas need your attention. Ideally, you are catching everything before it has a chance to turn red. However, the red color alerts you and your leadership to a major problem.
This dynamic document has built-in accountability. It offers freedom for your team members to own their areas of responsibility.
I hope this motivates you to start planning this year. If your plan is inadequate, this will strengthen it.