Here's a simple recipe for keeping strategy simple.
Strategic plans don't have to be complex.
In fact, keeping strategy nice and simple can work really well for smaller businesses who don't have the resources for an elaborate 3-day strategic retreat.
The whole point of undertaking a strategic exercise is to guide an organisation's future planning. This applies to businesses big and small. The mistake that many fall into is treating the strategic planning session as an exercise in coming up with a list of tasks to be achieved over the next 3 years.
Roger L. Martin, 'The Big Lie Of Strategic Planning'
"True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. The objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success."
Strategy: Back to Basics
The surest way to keep strategy simple is to get back to basics with company values: what values does your organisation consider desirable, important, beneficial, and constructive? What is it that the company is wanting to achieve?
Be realistic, but at the same time, don't treat the strategy session as a budgetary one. That can be worked out later.
Strategy is all about making decisions about where you want to play (target market) and what the game will be (customer value proposition). From these, work out the logic and reasoning that supports these two areas: what do you need to believe about customers, about the evolution of your industry, about competition, about your capabilities?
When businesses connect their strategies to their values, they are often more adaptable to changes than their larger, corporate counterparts.
A Strategic Plan in 4 Steps
Here's an easy, step-by-step process to draft a basic Strategic Plan.
#1 Work on your values
Do a bit of soul-searching and make a list of 4 or 5 values that are important to your business. This provides a framework for decision-making, so it’s important to think about, draft, refine, draft again, and allow as much time as needed to get and feel right.
#2 Find your ‘Reason for Being’
What is the purpose of your business? Why does it exist?
A ‘Reason for Being’ or ‘Purpose’ is often easier for smaller organisations to connect with, rather than the traditional Vision and Mission statements.
#3 Define your market
Who are your customers? Where will you find them? How will you reach them?
#4 The Value Proposition
This is the ‘how to win’ part of your strategy: why the customer will buy from you.
Not sure how to create a Value Proposition? Check out Cleverism’s guide.
Putting your Strategic Plan Together
Those 4 steps above (values; purpose; market; value proposition) provide you with the absolute basics for a strategic plan. Such a document can then guide:
Your strategic plan can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.