January 12, 2012
The Best Laid Plans, Part I
One of my readers asked me if I have a formula that I use to develop strategic plans. While every year and every situation is different, I do have a general outline that I’ve followed that has been pretty successful over the years at Return Path. There are three phases — input, analysis, and output. I’ll break this up into three postings over the next three weeks.
The Input Phase goes something like this:
Conduct stakeholder interviews with a few top clients, resellers, suppliers; Board of directors; and junior staff roundtables. Formal interviews set up in advance, with questions given ahead. Goal for customers: find out their view of the business today, how we’re serving them, what they’d like to see us do differently, what other products we could provide them. Goal for Board/staff: get their general take on the business and the market, current and future.
Conduct non-stakeholder interviews with a few industry experts who know the company at least a little bit. Goal: learn what they think about how we were doing today…and what they would do if they were CEO to grow the business in the future.
Re-skim a handful of classic business books and articles. Perennial favorite include Good to Great, Contrarian Thinking, and Crossing the Chasm.
Hold a solo visioning exercise. Take a day off, wander around Central Park. No phone, no email. Nothing but thinking about business, your career, where you want everything to head from a high level.
Hold senior staff brainstorming. Two-day off-site strategy session with senior team and maybe Board.
Next up: the Analysis Phase.