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Take Time to Think: The Strongest Strategy for 2018

01/24/2018



Innovation, technological advances and leadership have one major thing in common... you must be intentional to achieve progress and success in all three. And to ensure consistent improvement, you have to TPM: Think and Prepare before you Move.
 
Strategic thinking lays the foundations for strategic planning and ultimately, your success. As you look to the new year just over the horizon and make plans for what's next, stop trying to "just fit it in." If it’s worth doing, do it right! Take the time you need.
 
What does it take to create a highly effective, accountable and strong strategic plan?
 
Renie's 4-step Approach:

1. Initial Planning Meeting—Block two hours. During this meeting, ask:
  • What information will we need? How will we get it?
  • Who is responsible for getting it?
  • Where will we go? When? For how long? Who is coordinating?
  • What are our outcomes?
  • Do we need an outside facilitator to help us get there?
  • Then create a high-level model that allows you to easily build a budget with appropriate assumptions. Include key indicators and formulas.

2. Strategic Thinking Meeting—Suggested Length: Two Days
  • Discuss everything!  Core values, vision review and reflection and brand relevance, as well as revenue and profitability strategies.
  • Weave in some team building and reset your team’s rules of engagement by creating a designed alliance
  • Identify the three big strategies and their related priorities
  • Build out the budget model
  • Determine who should be invited to the Strategic Planning Meeting

3. Strategic Planning Meeting— Suggested Length: One Day
  • Roll out the plan to your next-level managers or supervisors.
  • Work through the tactical plans for their individual disciplines
  • Weave in a two hour team-building element

4. Tactical Plan Review Meeting— Two to four hours per discipline, depending on talent, depth, etc.
  • Ask each leader and their team to present their formal, written tactical plans in a shared format or spreadsheet template
  • Look for gaps and areas that involve other leaders, make them aware, and involve them
  • Provide input, make recommendations and approve each plan

More to think about:
  • There is never a good time. You will never have everyone you want in the right spot, at the right time, with all the positions filled. When you are not optimal is when you need strategic thought and planning the most!
  • Strategic thinking requires data, analysis, trending information, client feedback, employee feedback and other key performance indicators. Most preparation for a strategic meeting takes 20 hours or more of your leadership team’s time and if you don’t prepare, you are vulnerable to decisions based upon personal beliefs versus facts. Don’t be light on homework and distribute it two weeks before your Strategic Thinking meeting so it won't be rushed and everyone will be prepared.
  • Get offsite! Period. End of discussion. You can’t think differently in the same space you think in all the time.
  • An inspirational venue helps, so get creative! It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and spending money on planning is a smart use of money, even when you don’t have much of it.
  • Does your team have challenges with focus? Do they get caught in the minutia? Can they see the forest through the trees? If the answer is no to any of these questions, hire an outside facilitator.
  • If your team is prepared and focused for these meetings, they will get their plans done in half the time. Redundancy, lack of forethought and trying to do too much are where teams often go wrong.
  • TPM! All success is rooted in three elements: Think, Prepare. Move. Most leaders perform strong within the “move” piece. To decrease wasted “moves,” improve creativity and open up to what else might be possible, you must think and think and think. Then prepare. Preparation includes involving others in your plan; building out tactics, identifying obstacles and determining how to eliminate or minimize them. This is the point where capital prioritization and spending comes in... not the other way around.
  • Build out your budget assumptions and include an executive summary to make your presentation compelling to your ownership and bosses. If you don’t build a case for your plan, they may look only at the math.
About The Author
Renie Cavallari
Chief Instigating Officer
Aspire Marketing


Renie Cavallari is the chief instigating officer with Aspire Marketing. She can be reached at renie@aspiremarketing.com.

 
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