It’s difficult to separate yourself from running the business to work on changing the business. That’s something I heard early in my role in strategic planning, and it has stuck with me. Running the business requires a lot of effort and focus, and often people forget to think about what happens 5 or 10 years down the line. That’s where strategic planning comes in. The goal of strategic planning is to define the vision for your company and help you get there. It helps you create the processes, technologies and other advancements that take your business into the future.
Let’s explore four main areas you can focus on to get started.
Set the Foundation
Make sure you understand the key elements of your strategy: the mission, vision and values statements in addition to the SWOT analysis.
Your mission statement should communicate the purpose of the organization. Your vision statement is the roadmap to the company’s desired future state. Core values are the fundamental beliefs of the organization that represent the company culture. The SWOT analysis helps companies identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
These foundational elements are the touchstones with which you can create a plan to achieve the initiatives that will take you into the future. Without this foundation, frankly, your strategic initiatives are less likely to succeed.
Often, businesses are working on yearly goals due to calendar cycles. This kind of seasonality is important to keep in mind, but your strategic planning timeline must break away from this in order to be effective. While you can have supporting goals with one-year timelines, your entire initiative should be longer. Aim for initiatives that will take somewhere between 3 and 5 years, but it’s okay to start with a minimum of 2 to get the ball rolling.
Create a Balanced Approach
Categorize your focuses so that you aren’t limiting yourself to only one area of the business. You may be tempted to focus most of your effort on an area that needs extra help, but keep in mind that because strategic initiatives are long-term, you must strengthen all aspects of the company simultaneously.
Hytrol has categorized our strategic focuses into five main areas:
People – Retaining employees and keeping them safe are focuses of every manufacturing facility. These initiatives can focus on communication, identifying company culture, or anything else that aligns with improving employees’ wellbeing.
Processes – This includes identifying ways to improve processes in the business in support of our strategic growth initiatives in all areas.
Facility – Expanding or updating your facilities falls under this umbrella. You may need to employ outside resources to identify the space you need to move forward.
Business Development – The needs of customers and markets are always changing, and investing in market research and business development is imperative for the overall growth of the organization.
Technology – In the ever-changing world of automation, you must be forward thinking when it comes to technology or you will fall behind. The organizations that have the most success are investing in innovations that change the game for their customers and the industry.
Not all of these areas may be perfect fits for you, but you can use them as guides to develop the areas that you’d like to focus on and get input from teams in those areas. That brings us to our next point: your employees.
Utilize Your Employees
This may be one of the most important elements of planning. The people who know the most about your business? They’re your employees who are there day-in and day-out, facing the processes you want to change and working with the technologies you want to upgrade. Create a cross-functional team that can give you valuable feedback as you develop a plan to achieve your desired strategic targets. You may be surprised at some of the information that comes out of these meetings, but you’ll move forward with more inclusive and valuable ideas.
Every company is unique, and your strategic initiatives may not look the same as others in your industry. Even though it’s difficult to separate yourself from running the business in order to change the business, when you do your future will thank you for it.