I have a colleague who tells the story of working with a local organization to help with the execution of the strategic plan. On the surface, it all looked great. He was presented with a lovely binder that seemed to indicate that a lot of time and effort was put into the plan’s creation.
But, reality was a different story. Every good strategic plan that is implementable needs a strong foundation. If the hull of the boat has leaks in it, there is no way it is going to last throughout the journey.
The foundation of the strategic plan has everything to do with your understanding of the ‘current state’. What are you, who are you serving, what are you building, what are your strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, who is your competition, what is the state of your industry, describe your current resources: people, money, profitability, debt and this list goes on.
As a serial entrepreneur, I find that taking the time to understand the current state does not come naturally. Many of us know entrepreneurs that love to look to the future and move fast. Sometimes it seems impossible to sit us down to contemplate anything but the future. But we have to. Regardless of the size or scope of our vision, success only comes from a clear understanding of where we are today.
I’ve always suggested that the easiest part of strategic planning is the detailed picture of the future state. This is where most organizations start and stop.
If you want to get there, you have to have a plan and, naturally, that plan needs to describe how you can get from here to there. The ‘here’ part of this equation is also known as the ‘current state’.
The foundation of your strategic plan must start with a detailed, in-depth analysis of your organization. Without it we cannot plan the path to our future state.
Take time at the beginning, do your research, be brave enough to ask the questions you really don’t want answers to. Your plan will see a much clearer route to success than if you skip this most important step.
Where are you today, where do you want to be tomorrow and how are you going to get there?
Three simple questions – but you can’t miss one of them.