It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – For Strategic Planning

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – For Strategic Planning

By: Julie Ann Blazei, President / CEO , Tricom Funding
In Wisconsin, the snow has already started to fall, signaling the end of another year. For many of us, it’s the time of the year when we are busy wrapping up all the loose ends of the current year and looking over what still needs to be accomplished in 2011 — next year is still a distant month away. Others may already be deep in the trenches with budget planning for the New Year.
Regardless of where you’re at in the process, as 2011 comes to an end, I encourage you to take a few hours this month to review the successes and failures of the current year and do some strategic planning for the new year with a group of your staff
Not sure where to start? Has your current strategic planning process not been as impactful as you had hoped in the past?

Each year at Tricom, we take a full day for strategic planning with a group of staff committed to the long-term success of the company. I encourage you to limit the group to no larger than 12. This ensures the group is small enough for everyone to have input, but is also large enough to get a good company-wide perspective. We reflect on the ups and downs of the current year, how we foresee the global world and industry will look in three to five years, and then reflect on how we, as a company, want to look.  

Let’s walk through our process.

  1. Start off the meeting with establishing ground rules for the group.Some of the important ground rules could focus on flexibility, openness, giving only your opinion, meeting deadlines, accountability, communication, realistic goals/deadlines and forward focus, to name a few.  Ensure that all participants are in agreement with the ground rules — then stick to them.
  2. Next, move to reviewing the brutal facts of the current year. I refer to it as the GOOD and the BAD of 2011. Use whiteboards/flip charts to accurately capture what the organization did right and where you failed. Problems, situations, sales and customer service should all be rated. The key here is honesty; really take a serious and honest look at your company for the current year. Review any goals or objectives you had for 2011. Score card the goals (remember to be honest — if you and your team aren’t honest, the process isn’t going to work).
    On a side note: Flip charts are a great way to capture all the information and to quickly review any prior notes throughout the planning session. We utilize the flip charts that can immediately be stuck to a wall so they are always visual to the entire group during our planning session. They are also a great resource to utilize after the meeting for meeting minutes and ongoing reminders of our strategic plans.
  3. Next, spend some time brainstorming critical issues you and your business currently face, or you believe will be facing globally, over the next three to five years. Again, it is important to capture these ideas on flip charts for future reference. Gradually move to critical issues facing the staffing industry over the next three to five years.  
  4. Here is where it gets fun. Spend time reviewing both the global issues and the industry issues to imagine/sketch/envision what your company will look like in three years. The question I always ask: What do we look like in 2015? When you ask the question, you should also include your sales numbers, both revenue and net income. From this work, critical projects should be uncovered for your team to focus on.  
  5. Once you have the entire list of projects, ask the team to rate each project. We use high, medium and low importance. From your list of projects and what your team envisions the company to look like, you can develop goals and objectives for the New Year.  
  6. Assign a project leader to each project and deadlines. Remember, a ground rule should be setting realistic deadlines. Keep the team accountable by having check-in meetings every 4-6 weeks. Each project leader will update the team on any progress that was accomplished since last time you met, get feedback or thoughts on any current issues for the success of the project, next steps and revised deadlines if needed.  
Good luck with your planning! Remember, there is nothing to lose but there is a lot to gain if it works for your company.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Successful and Prosperous 2012.