Can We Plan Strategically? Is It Possible For A Small Team?
Highlight: I would like to start by informing my readers that I’m writing this article based on my shear experience in the industry as a Customer Facing Personnel so I could do justice to my writing and improve the authenticity of the content.
I had personally worked with the lean and bulky teams who mistakenly believe that the size of their business or the team negates the need for strategic planning but to be honest, it is very critical for them to prioritize planning at the top of their business stack. Its inherent size is actually what makes strategic planning more important because it can be meant for a small business or lean team to gradually evolve into a huge and thriving multinational corporation.
What Small Businesses or Team Leaders Need to Know About The “Strategic Planning”!
The planning is one of the five important functions of the management, but it’s arguably the critical function of all because it’s the first thing that any team leader or small business owner should focus on. The planning sets the goals, and mission-vision, and sets the direction for the company or the team. Without planning out your path, the other functions may be impossible to achieve or seem far from reach.
A business or a team cannot benefit from just quick planning. The planning should be considered with all relevant factors, i.e. known and unknown, predicted and assumed parameters should be well-thought-out using proper critical reasoning and proofs to back the plans. In short, it must be strategic in essence to be effective. Strategic Planning is a methodical process of deciding where you want your company or your team to be in a given time frame and what you propose to do to get there. You can correlate this with the GTM — Go-To-Market Strategy where you exactly know what you want, why you wanted to go, and how you wanted to get there.
To highlight, there are many different ways to let your company benefit from strategic planning so don’t worry about following the so-called rules. Whatever works for your company or team is good enough but to get here, you would need to experiment at least twice or thrice with different strategies. I had learned to understand the behavioral patterns of my team by taking multiple approaches and by following different planning altogether. And, there are times when I was completely clueless but remember, you would need to trust the process. Give at least 3 to 4 weeks for an approach to show results. Set daily goals and track regularly, this would give you a solid perspective of whether you would be able to reach your team goal well within the predicted or set time frame. Also, not to miss this, there are times when I had observed the teams had hit their milestones without much planning. And, this boils down to individual analysis and their effective planning as an individual. As mentioned earlier, it is very important that we consider all the factors dynamically by analyzing the progress from each approach. This should give us a well-thought-out and workable environment.
That said, let me get into the details now.
What are the elements of Strategic Planning?
1. Internal and External Assessments
For example, a coach of a basketball team won’t be able to map out an effective play, if he/she doesn’t know his/her players well, which team they will be playing against, and the most importantly the strengths and weaknesses of the player in his/her team. The same strategy can be said for any business or a team leader or any leadership representative altogether. Before you can start working on the details of your strategic plan, you must first focus on compiling the required data about the external and internal environment of your company or your team. How is it going to impact the players i.e. the team members and what are the expected outcomes, if it is impacted? This can give you a great head start. Trust Me!!
Outside your business or team, politico-legal, economic, and socio-cultural factors can affect how your business or the team’s growth will fare in the next few years. Inside, factors such as management style and the type of workforce you have can also help or hinder your company or team members from attaining their goals in particular. This applies the same to any nuclear team within a big organization or a startup to consider.
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
— Gloria Steinem
Moving on to the next element,
2. Set Goals
The important element of all five functions would be Setting Up Your Goals diligently and being realistic about them, this would take some time and experience to come up with more reachable goals. If you can be satisfied with small and short-term goals then that’s good; if you secretly desire bigger goals then that’s even better. To know if the goals you plan to work on are indeed workable, determine if they adhere to the SMART rule i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, And Time-Bound. This is a very important concept to analyze any parameters in life and this applies to the business aspect as well.
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”
— Earl Nightingale
3. Rule of Majority!
Of course, as an owner or a team leader, you reserve your right to approve or ignore any suggestion but as much as possible, allow the rule of the majority to stick. The plans can only come to fruition if everyone in the company and the team works together and you can assure yourself of their cooperation by showing them that you care about what they think. This is an exceptionally successful methodology when you allow your team to take you through their suggestions and pedagogy to reach their milestones. Who knows, you could have easily attained the milestone by gathering more perspective during the progress.
“One man with courage is a majority.”
— Thomas Jefferson
4. Devising an Action Plan
All that said, you are into the final steps to conclude your Strategic Planning Roadmap. Now, it's time to concentrate on the nitty-gritty of your strategic plan. List down all the possible and specific courses of action, then choose what all of you deem as most suitable. Make sure that you set a definite schedule or timetable for everything but give allowances for unexpected delays and concerns because these unexpected delays can take a toll on your timelines when there is no buffer period for the same.
Finally, set a budget. In most cases, the setting of a budget will be carried out by the higher management once you devise a plan but at least, you can get a groove of it.
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”
— Joel A. Barker
5. The Ever-So-Popular Plan B
Last but not least, always have a new card under your sleeve, this could save your time in case of things did not go as planned. You should keep in mind, that these are plans that are presumed in the future and it is completely fine if it did not go as planned. But, I will certainly not entertain using Plan B in all cases. A business owner or a team leader should make sure that the Plan works as expected, this will enlighten and sharpen your decision-making skills and gut instincts. Finally, devise a Plan B in the event that your first plan doesn’t work, this is called Pivoting if needed, and list down the indications to know when the right time to put Plan B to action and pivot. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend always reaching out to the higher stakeholders to review your strategic planning regularly and get it criticized, this would give you more insights and exposure to greater heights.
“By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin
I hope this article was insightful for the future & budding leaders and entrepreneurs of this era. Wish you all success and great health, moving forward. Thank you.