Adding Value to Tactical Strategic Business Planning
Strategy is as much about what to do as it is what to not do. It establishes soft, but clearly understood parameters flexible enough to be modified based on market feedback and competitive forces. Because your business plan is the foundation to future decisions and actions that impact your entire company, it is important to have input from visionaries, managers, and doers. It is also important to have a diversity of perspectives to ensure it is water-tight from all market touchpoints. By involving multiple departments in the process of tactical development, you allow for the potential of the most varied opinions.
Create Peer Teams During Strategic Development
When brought together, all participants in the session should be thought of on the same level. Hierarchies of power are diminished to the common denominator of another team player. While this thought process is a logical approach to gather input from all perspectives and levels in the organization, it is not always conceivable in some organizational cultures. That’s why it is important to have a third-party nonpartisan facilitator whose function is to neutralize status and maximize the free flow of contributing thoughts.
In each session, multiple teams of people should feel free to discuss and even argue criteria to result in the most comprehensive and adaptive proposal to advance your business. To keep everyone focused on the information you need to gather, consider the use of the following questions. Alternatives, answers, and insights that spring from the effort will potentially incubate to stimulate future discussions, so establish channels of communication after the group gathering to collect residual feedback from all members. Interestingly, these “afterthoughts” may turn out to be the catalysts to the most innovative aspects of your business plan.
- What results are you trying to achieve with this new strategy?
- What metric and measurement tool will be used to monitor this performance indicator?
- Who is the target market (beyond just demographics, but more in the form of a persona)? Is the market active in what you are trying to help them achieve?
- Are there any existing or leading indicators, (direct or indirect) to measure the market size and growth patterns?
- What is the logic behind your market size estimates? (Especially important when the idea is radical and the first of its kind.)
- What “job” would your product be “hired” to do? In other words, what problem is it solving and how does it change/help/fit into your target market’s personal life or business?
- What is the best-case scenario?
- What would have to happen for you to succeed? Play out scenarios based on the assumptions/data used to project forecasts.
- What is the worst-case scenario?
- What market factors would indicate a bust? (You need to be aware and alert for these signs).
When considering the last bullet, it’s more important to think responsively and anticipate potential disruptions in the industry or market than to take a reactionary position. In the ever-increasing speed of today’s market, late reaction to the market or your industry leaves your company scrambling to catch up to your competition. Take the time to do your market research so you have relevant and reliable data to lay the groundwork for your strategy.
What Do Your Customers Really Want?
To benefit most from these questions think beyond the obvious, convenient answers that first come to mind. This ensures that your business strategy is built around a clear, concise, and compelling value proposition. The value proposition should be thought of in terms of what service or tools are you providing to the customer and how does it affect them directly? What “job” is your company, product or service “hired” to do?
The goal of the entire exercise is to devise a maintainable, flexible, and focused business plan that is able to sustain your company through the competitive landscape. Your company’s level of success is highest when your strategy is clearly defined, communicated, and understood by all stakeholders – employees, customers, partners, and investors alike.