How To Create A Successful Strategic Plan For You Or Your Business

Atlanta’s annual Dragon Con event recently filled the city’s streets with geeks of every sort. The sci-fi/fantasy/gaming event kicks off with a parade featuring people dressed as characters from the spectrum of pop culture products — Star Wars to The Avengers to Fortnite to obscure graphic novels.

It’s a blast. And I feel left out.

Sadly, there is no place at Dragon Con for my kind of geekiness. I’m a geek for strategic planning; a nerd for business blueprints. If I were allowed to participate in the Dragon Con parade, I’d dress up as a whiteboard. Better yet, I’d take my whole Leadership Team and we’d march as a five-year plan, complete with BHAGs, values, mission statements and KPIs. It. Would. Be. Awesome.

My love of strategic planning stems from my deep passion for helping businesses and organizations achieve their objectives. The road to long-term success begins with setting the North Star, a well-thought-out statement of the organization’s true and elemental purpose. The North Star Statement at my Investment Advisory Firm, Capital Investment Advisors, is “Helping families find happiness in retirement.” Those six words keep our team and me focused on exactly why we walk in the door every day.

The next step is to set long-term goals that honor the organizational purpose set forth in the North Star. Once those are in place, it’s party time! – I mean strategic planning time. A well-crafted strategic plan is absolutely essential to reaching any long-term objective. It is both the road map and travel plan for the journey to your chosen destination.

Here’s my preferred process for producing a worthwhile plan. After setting the overall strategy for reaching the ten-year objectives, I like to craft benchmark goals and strategies for getting to, say, the three-year and six-year milepost on the journey. Next, we talk about what must be accomplished in each year to keep us on track. The final, and perhaps most important job is to assign individual responsibility for every task and sub-goal in the plan.

Creating such a document takes significant time, real effort, careful thought and several boxes of dry erase markers. I know it can be challenging to get your team members to raise their eyes from the day-to-day and look seriously at the ten-year horizon. But that must happen. It is vital to have our whole teams’ buy-in and commitment to the strategic planning process, and the resulting roadmap. There is no substitute for having everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction.

We all get stuck working IN our businesses more than we do ON our businesses. This is the first step to begin thinking bigger picture and begin transforming your business instead of just running it.

If your business or organization doesn’t have a strategic plan in place, I encourage you to develop one for 2018-2028. Trust me; it won’t take a decade to see positive results from your efforts. By this time next year you too might be a strategic planning geek. Even if Dragon Con isn’t our parade, our companies, team members, and families will surely celebrate our ability to drive great results.

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