How’s your vision?
The question is not focused (pun intended) on your eyesight, but instead on the vision for your kitchen and bath dealership. With the pandemic and all the other distractions surrounding us these days, it’s easy to lose sight of where you are going, and even easier to go off the rails.
Does your business have a clear, forward- looking sightline? Can you look ahead and see where your business will be in the next 18-36 months? Do you know where the company is heading and have a firm image of a preferred future? Or are you so bogged down in day-to-day activities that you’re thinking, “ain’t nobody got time for that?”
It’s hard to look at tomorrow when you’re so busy just trying to manage today. Numerous studies have concluded that many strategic plans fail because of either the approach or a flawed methodology. Assembling a plan with a nice bow on it and handing it to a team to execute is less effective than aligning your team on a vision and providing them a playbook on how to achieve it.
Annual eye exams are recommended and deemed essential to safeguard health and wellbeing. Good vision provides clarity and is a vital piece in learning and development. Shouldn’t that same approach apply to your business?
It’s vital to take the time to reflect, strategize, plan and execute. Yogi Berra, the famous baseball player, once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there.” Indeed, chaos is the result when a clear strategy and vision are absent. A playbook that drives results with a preferred outcome is needed.
Having a plan to win requires a good strategy – in other words, a clear roadmap, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules, defining the actions that people in your business should take (and not take) and what they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals.
Strategic planning is vital to an organization because it provides direction and outlines measurable goals. Strategic planning is a tool that’s useful for guiding day-to-day decisions, and for evaluating progress and changing approaches when moving forward.
Fundamentally, a strategy creates a unique and valuable position involving a different set of activities from those of a company’s competitors or performing similar activities in different ways. Strategy is choosing what to do – and what not to do – and involves three key elements:
Strategic: This is the art of planning for tomorrow, today.
Operational: This is the discipline of taking care of today, today. This considers both organizational and market realities, those inside an organization and those outside who affect it. It’s the balancing act of managing the realities of today and the forward-looking of tomorrow’s opportunities that gives your plan power.
Financial: This silent partner is crucial for strategic and operational financing.
These three elements, woven together like strands of a rope, are integral throughout the entire “plan to win” process.
PERSPECTIVE BEFORE PLANNING
Most of us are wired to immediately rush into “solution-mode” when confronted with a problem. It’s in our DNA to solve the problem quickly and move on to the next challenge. The problem is that the solution arrived at might not be addressing the entire situation. This rush to solve the problem produces one-dimensional answers to multi-dimensional problems.
A more effective strategy, in contrast, requires proper planning – and that requires having a proper perspective about where you are as a business today. A balanced view is pursued through thorough situation analysis and diagnosis. The goal is to achieve more thoughtful system solutions and multi-dimensional answers to multi-dimensional problems. In short, better upfront planning results in less required work later.
It’s critical to involve as many team members as possible in the exercise. Establishing a safe environment is important for open, honest information sharing that’s vital for success. Creating a backdrop for the truth about the issues impacting your business is critical. As the cliché suggests, knowing the truth sets us free.
It’s equally essential for owners and managers to be willing to receive the information that’s being shared without reacting defensively. The data mined during this exercise represents nuggets of valuable knowledge and provides valuable information for the next steps in the strategic planning process.
MISSION AND VISION
Why does your business exist?
It’s a question that requires a well-thought-out answer. It’s not enough to address where your business currently is. It’s also vital that we answer why the business exists. That answer defines the mission of the company. It establishes the purpose and foundation of the organization.
The vision for a business is not pulled out of thin air. Vision is entrenched in the mission and the results from dedicating time to current perceptions. Vision is an accurate picture of where the business stands – an exciting, meaningful and descriptive view of where the organization is headed, and a scripted, pragmatic approach to getting there.
A vision provides direction that’s exciting and dominates the senses. There’s inevitably some “stretch” in the vision, but the resources required for achievement are attainable and easily assembled.
Before a plan takes shape, the proper perspective about the organization’s current state is needed. The correct view and dynamic, forward-looking vision make the core plan flow smoothly. The remainder of the plan is almost effortless; much of the heavy lifting is already done as if it practically writes itself.
The next phase in the strategic process, to be addressed in a future column, answers the two key questions: Where are we headed now? And, what’s important now? The answer to those questions frames the basis of a strategic plan. ▪
Dan Luck owns Bella Domicile in Madison, WI. He has been an SEN Member since 2002 and has led the SEN Leadership Team since 2018, conducting scores of the group’s educational programs. Please visit http://sendesigngroup/education for more information. Dan welcomes questions and comments at [email protected]).