It is great to have a dream for our business – but without a plan it will remain just that!
In this blog Kevin will take you through a simple one-page strategic planning framework that will help turn your dream into a Vision and help make it become a reality.
Can you and your team state your business’s strategy simply?
Being able to articulate a clear and differentiated strategy, supported by a strong core culture that can deliver on the brand’s promises is key for any business wanting to scale up
I’m going to share with you a framework summarised from ‘Scaling Up’ by Verne Harnish and his team at Gazelles that starts to bridge the gap between the core culture (values and purpose), the strategic long, mid and short-term and the day to day execution to deliver on the plan.
It is a simple but powerful framework that helps you to edit down your vision into a single, action-oriented page. If you run a larger business (for example 50 employees or more) then you may like to refer to the fuller version by Verne Harnish.
This builds on the thinking outlined in my previous webinars on Core Ideology, Core Purpose, Envisioned Future – How to regain Direction & Focus, Control over your Business & Confidence in your Business Model.
The first thing you should notice about the One Page Vision is that it is broadly split into a top and bottom half – the top is for the whole business, the bottom (below where it says ‘My Name’) is individual. If you are on your own in the business then there will only be one version, if you have anyone else then they should have their own versions – where the top is common but the bottom is adapted to their own roles – so every member of the team can personalise it.
In this way, it can be a very powerful way of ensuring the Vision is shared with and understood by everyone in the business.
So let’s start at the top right – you will notice that you fill in the current quarter. The idea is that this becomes a living tool that we update quarterly – enabling us to focus on specific priorities over a quarter.
The Core Values, Purpose, Stretch Goal (10-15 Yr) and Brand Promises should be a simple case of filling in from the previous webinars – if not then refer back to them for help in developing them. The brand promises come from the Value Proposition work and we would normally expect around 3.
If you have clearly defined your Stretch Goal – where you are headed for in 10-15 years time along with your envisioned future, you should then have worked out where you want to be in 3 years that puts you on track.
Again we spoke about this in … – a simple way is to start with the stretch goal and bring that back to what you think is achievable in 3 years. This might be target driven – e.g sales, role model driven (e.g. to be the Nike of the cycling industry), competitive (e.g. to knock a competitor off the number one spot) or transformational (transform this company from being… to ….) Transformation goals tend to be for larger corporations rather than small businesses though.
Once you have translated that into a 3 year version you can ask yourself what the business needs to look like to support it at 3 years – e.g. in terms of people, products, customers, money, operations such as premises, geographic locations etc. This should enable you to list a few 3 year key ‘thrusts’
If you do the same for one year you will then be able to set a one year priority and some key initiatives/ critical paths that will need to happen in order to get there – you can then fill these in.
Similarly you can set a priority and key actions for the coming 3 months or quarter to deliver that priority.
If you’ve done this well, you now have a simple road map or snapshot of the business’s vision for the next 10 years with a few milestones on the way – but you also have a visual communication aid that can be shared with others in the business.
Now we bridge the gap between the business and the individuals. Each person in the business should take the road map and work out what it means for them in their role.
So we have a business one year priority and critical paths – what does this mean for my role? What are my annual goals, targets and KPIs that I need to deliver in order to support the business achieving it’s one year priority?
And what are my quarter targets and actions to support the business achieving its annual and quarterly priorities?
You’ll notice that I’ve put the actions first with the targets at the bottom – some of you will find it more logical to start with the targets and then define the actions in order to hit the targets. The reason I have done it this way is to avoid getting hung up in the detail of the actions before the people understand the aim.
So coming to the Critical Numbers or KPIs for the quarter – you will see we are after just 2 key indicators that should address ‘what is the single most important quantifiable achievement for that person or team in the next quarter that will help the business achieve its vision?
One of this should be to do with People and one to do with Process.
Why you ask? To achieve the vision you need people doing stuff! People and Process.
The 3 main groups of people are:
Staff, customers and shareholders
The 3 main processes that drive any business are:
Make/ Buy, Sell and Recordkeeping
We need to balance the competing demands of all 6 as we grow – and you will need frequent feedback and metrics to keep things in balance as the demands on the business increase.
Here’s some ideas for people:
Staff – Satisfaction and engagement scores
Customers – Net promoter score/ Customer satisfaction
Shareholders – Cash, Accounts receivable, Business Valuation
Here’s some for Process
Make/ Buy – speed of a process, costs, quality
Sell – pipeline, sales metrics, lead generation KPIs
Record Keeping – data reporting (speed/ accuracy), etc.
You will have specific ones for your business but those with a more financial bent will notice that the people measures are largely around reputation and balance sheet metrics and the process measures are largely Profit & Loss measures.
Regardless of this – the most important thing is to start somewhere. Don’t worry too much about people or process but definitely pick two critical numbers for the next quarter.
The ideal, good, average and poor are simply to encourage staff to define a range rather than one number for each of the critical numbers – so if the most important priority this quarter is to reduce days receivable to 30 days, what would be ideal – 25 days perhaps, what would be good – 30 days, average might be 35 days and poor might be 40 days or more.
This then allows you to think about incentives/ rewards based on what is achieved rather than a simple hit or miss.
So there you have it :
Done well, the One Page Vision enables the business to articulate and share a clear and differentiated strategy amongst the team – it can be a very powerful way of ensuring the Vision is shared with and understood by everyone in the business as well as personalised to their role – helping the vision to be lived and breathed rather than filed away in a drawer somewhere and making it much more likely that the Stretch Goal will be achieved!
Click here to listen to Kevin’s webinar on this topic.
Our guest blogger, Kevin Brent, is MD of BizSmart which works with ambitious business owners who want to transform their business. Gill Hutchinson is a core adviser and marketing specialist for BizSmart