Too often, the panic button sounds and before you know it the executive team is in a one-day retreat, using a hastily selected process to develop a one-page plan.  Pick a few goals for the next year, assign each to a team, and get going!  Right?  Wrong!!!

A useful plan that drives growth and solves problems doesn’t happen in a day.  It takes more than a day to pull together relevant and useful information on which to base game-changing decisions.  As the old saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out”.  It takes real data transformed into relevant and meaningful information to serve as the foundation of decision-making.

A process won’t solve the problems.  There are well over 250 strategic processes that I am aware of and I am certain there are many more.  Most of the tools are limited in that they address part, but not all, of the issues a typical company faces.  There is no one right process as companies vary greatly in size, business cycle, culture, and business issues they are facing.  Process is only a means to an end.  It is the results that count!  Don’t focus on the process.

Assigning projects is smart.  You want accountability.  Assigning projects to teams dilutes that accountability because no one person is in charge.  When you can’t hold someone directly responsible, the buck still stops with you.

Prioritize and schedule resources.  The number of projects there are and the timeframe in which they are to be accomplished is the difference between successful implementation and failure.  Recently, I worked with a client that started out with 27 projects, assigned to a group of 12 people.  The list didn’t include the fact that they were relocating their entire operation in the next few months.  Was it any surprise that little meaningful progress had been made on any of these initiatives?  Too much to do, no one person responsible, and too little resource available to get it done.  A recipe for disaster.

So what does work?  Start with what you know about the marketplace.  No business can survive for long if they are not meeting the needs of the market they wish to serve.  Unfortunately, many companies base operating decisions on assumption and experience.  The challenges with that are:

  1. The market changes and what we learned once may be wrong now
  2. What we assume may be incorrect.

The key to creating a plan to achieve breakthrough growth starts with a thorough and accurate understanding of what is going on in the relevant marketplace.

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