No organization plans to fail. They just fail to effectively plan. What do you want your company to become in three years? What about in five years? What about in ten years? Do you have a strategic plan to insure your organization stays on track and reaches its destiny? According to Sorrell Associates, “a recent study by the Association of Management Consulting Firms found that executives, consultants, and business school professors all agree that business strategy is now the single most important management issue and will remain so for many years”.
Effective strategic plans can take weeks if not months to create and require the input from a wide range of stakeholders. Typical strategic plans include a SWOT analysis, vision and mission statements, core strategies and critical success factors, means to measure organizational results, a high level implementation schedule, plans for how to best deploy the organization’s major resources and how the organization will monitor and control the flow of work. Each of the components of a sound strategic plan answers the question of “what will we do to ensure our ongoing success”. But your strategic plan needs to answer more than just the “what” and “how” of your business.
One of the most critical but often overlooked components of positioning your organization to evolve into its true potential is answered by asking something different. It is answered by the questions “who is going to lead us to become the company of our destiny” and “how do we ensure we have the people in place to carry out our strategic plan”.
Walt Disney once said “you can design and create the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.” It is your people in your organization that bring your product or service to life. It is your people who are going to either make or break your organization’s success. But here’s the thing; the best way to ensure your people represent your organization in the best possible way is to model the behaviors you expect to see. You have to be crystal clear about your expectations; about what skills, talents, behaviors, strengths and experiences your people need; about the baseline of where your people are starting and how much time you have to get your people to where they need to be.
A great place to start is to ask yourself if you have the skills your organization will need in the future. Spending time reflecting on yourself, what you need to develop and what you already possess may not be comfortable, but it is essential. You may find that you have all the qualities and skills you need to lead your organization forward. But you may find that you need to do some work on yourself. And it does not just end with you. You will also need to determine if your direct reports have the skills and characteristics necessary for your organization’s future success. If not, determine what you are going to do to bridge you and your team’s personal gaps. Perhaps you need to surround yourself with individuals who complement the skills and strengths which you lack. Maybe your team needs to develop their strengths or acquire new skills. Or perhaps you need to reorganize your group to place people in the roles where they will succeed and will have the greatest long term impact on your organization.
Whatever your organization’s need is, you must address your people deficiencies before you begin to implement any strategic plan. Asking individuals to perform in ways that are incongruent to the behaviors you and your senior team model will undermine your credibility as a leader. Employees do not tend to follow individuals who say one thing and do another. Your strategic plan is the roadmap to your future success. Ensuring you have all the resources necessary to implement your plan effectively is the most prudent course of action you can take.