How to succeed in your strategic plan for 2021
2020 was strangely turbulent. Entire strategies planned ahead of the year had to be overhauled, as many businesses’ primary objectives shifted from growth to that of survival.
But strategic planning failure wasn’t unique to the previous year. In fact, about 67 percent of strategic planning fails annually due to poor execution. More than that, the strategies fail because they weren’t strategies in the first place!
You see, many people mistake strategies for goals. They perceive a strategy as a destination, when it’s more like a journey! If you don’t get what I mean, check to see if your strategic plan for 2021 includes anything like this:
- Increase this year’s turnover
- Make it to the Fortune 500 list by year 5
- Become the market leader in all of the United States
If it does, then you probably need to reconsider the process you employed to draft your strategies. Why? Because what you have in your hands are not strategies but goals. You definitely would want to achieve these, but you need to strategize on how to do it.
Now, strategizing involves clearly listing down what you have to do, and don’t, to achieve your goals. Let’s say you want to aim for a 15% improvement in profitability this Q1. This is not a strategy because it doesn’t tell you ‘how’ to do it. However, it’s not a goal either!
Any measurable step taken to achieve a goal becomes an objective. But then where does a strategy fit in this equation? Well, strategies are precise directives which will help you realize an objective. And, usually, when you fulfil various underlying objectives, you achieve your goal.
Understanding the distinction between these three will help you create better strategies that can be acted upon. Circling back to the objective of achieving 15% improvement in profitability, your strategies may sound like “switching to lean management”, “reducing fixed overheads”, “removing unprofitable products” and so on.
Each of these strategies can be tracked, meaning if your objective isn’t achieved, you can point out why. Was it the inability to reduce overheads, or was the shift to lean management not successful–you’ll know first-hand about why you couldn’t meet your objective. And, in the case you did meet it, you will know the reason and the individuals to accredit. That’s why proper strategic planning can be the difference between the success and the bust of your business.
And so, I have jotted down five steps for drafting and executing a reliable strategic plan for 2021:
- Go big on goals, but realistic on objectives
Your goals are like your dreams–nothing should stop them or limit them. However, your goals should be fueled by achievable objectives. For example, your goal is to dominate the US market with your services. But you set an objective of achieving 150% growth within one month. An objective like this will cause unnecessary dissatisfaction and a sense of failure throughout your organization because you’ll most likely not meet it.
- Why this objective?
Objectives are like milestones you aim at. But why only those milestones? Why aim at acquiring 50% of the market share for your product and not any other figure? Questions like these create the most thorough strategies that any leadership team can stand behind.
- Prioritize when executing
Sometimes an objective’s completion is fundamental to the success of other objectives. So you need to plan when and where to drive your investments because you cannot do everything concurrently.
- The key lies in measuring
You would want to document all strategies and the activities undertaken to execute them, to understand the reasons behind the achievement of an objective or its failure.
- Practice control
If any strategy is going south, or the objectives appear to be inconsistent in the light of the prevailing environment, practice effective control as soon as possible.
Although strategic planning is an essential prerequisite for business success, it can get on your nerves. A big reason is that they impact your stakeholders in one or more ways.
Aepiphanni can help if your organization requires assistance in navigating intricate judgments. We employ a rare blend of agile methods and empathy to ease the process of strategic planning. Our experts can get on a Coffee and a Consult session where we discuss how to devise and execute an effective strategic plan relevant to your business. And yes, we can get the coffee delivered if you decide to talk virtually.
Here’s to a productive and prosperous 2021!
Schedule a Coffee & Consult with us using the form below. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from that conversation. And, you never know, it could just be the one conversation that makes all the difference to you and your company in 2021.