Avoid rose-tinted strategic planReady to close 2011 and prepare for 2012?

It’s likely that you’ve already started thinking about how your small to mid-sized business will perform in 2012. Planning is an act of imagining what could be and letting go of what is. Are you coming to the planning meetings full of confidence or dread? Or maybe somewhere in the middle?

Weirdly, any of these attitudes could create a rose-colored strategic plan.

You know this already but how you see the world influences how you act. That’s why a paradigm shift feels so powerful. The very essence is that you have to change how you act.  Our mindsets create expectations, blindspots and beliefs that color what information we absorb and which we ignore or downplay.

  • Overconfidence leads to oversights or simply blindness to threats or opportunities. “We don’t have to worry about that”
  • Dread leads to analysis paralysis, self-doubt and focus on possible threats. “This has got to work”
  • The balancing act gets skewed by the day-to-day duties and not making time to maintain a global perspective. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

See through a clear lens with these 5 tips

1. Business analysis. Schedule quarterly reviews including a SWOT analysis so you can take a step back and be more objective about how your business is performing.  With the new year almost upon us, you may have to comply with changes in regulations or other variables that require adaptations. To make this easier, use a PESTEL analysis to more clearly identify potential threats and opportunities. Another possible analysis that will illuminate how your business is functioning within economic turbulence is Ansoff’s Strategic Success Model (check out page 3 for chart).

2. Communicate clearly and often. Make time to speak with your team and/or business partner as a group. This avoids wasting time running from one person to another to give the same message. It means you stop and listen to what they are actually saying. This is  your opportunity to gauge the morale of your organization as well as getting information for the business analyses. Even a 5-15 minute group meeting can be very productive when you keep it focused on 1-2 topics and schedule follow ups when issues need more attention.

3. Mentors, coaches, mastermind groups and/or trusted confidant. No matter the size of your organization, it helps to keep your head clear. As a leader, it is important to have a safe place to sort out your thoughts and feelings. Mentors, coaches, mastermind groups and/or a trusted confidant gives you that space so you can interact with your employees, vendors and customers effectively.

4. Know the difference between “nice-to-have” and “must-haves”. Sometimes strategic plans become wish lists. While taking audacious ideas and setting them as targets is desirable, it is also crucial to keep your “bread-and-butter” targets active. You can use the things that produce a steady revenue stream as a means to invest in your next “nice-to-have”. The tried and true parts of your business are the foundation. Be aware of how much energy and resources are needed for your newest offering so you can plan for them appropriately.

5. Take care of yourself. Thinking and the ability to keep emotions in check deteriorate when we don’t eat healthy foods or get enough sleep. Lack of sleep alone can lower your cognitive abilities. When we feel run down, it’s tempting to go with what makes us feel good. Exercise or just simply moving more is a great way to clear your mind so you can cope better.

Avoid the rose-tinted strategic plan.

The willingness to seek accurate information and use it to create your strategic plan will pay off. It all starts with your desire and commitment to see your business as it truly is.

 What tips would you add?



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