April 2015

In This Issue

VISION, MISSION and VALUES in Strategic Business Planning

   Take Control of Your Future - Strategically

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Welcome to the April 2015 edition of Pathways to Success. As we begin the 2nd Quarter of 2015, it's not too early in the year to re-evaluate how your business is doing. Are you on track with your overall 2015 goals and objectives? Take the time to look at your 1st Quarter results and make the necessary adjustments in strategy. Re-prioritize, if that's what it takes.


This month's articles focus on strategic planning and how important planning is to your long-term business success. Are you being proactive about setting the necessary time for strategic planning in your organization? Have you allowed yourself to work only "in" the business? It's a great time to take stock.


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Enjoy reading! 



Steve Terusaki, President of SEIDO Consulting
Steve Terusaki  
SEIDŌ Consulting

VISION, MISSION and VALUES in Strategic Business Planning

Business leaders too often find themselves "working in" the business and not "working on" the business. What is the difference; and why does it matter?


The success and failure of organizations can be attributed to a variety of issues. Sweat equity, perseverance, passion, disruptive innovation, marketing and sales, and available capital all can play a part. In guiding the business to succeed, leadership often succumbs to the "all-hands-on-deck" approach. The immediacy of getting things done in order to meet customer/client demands becomes an all-consuming effort. This sense of urgency means that planning and decision-making focus on the near-term to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly. There appears to be no time to step back and look at the bigger picture.  


This is the scenario of "working in" the business. Sound familiar?


Imperative to the long-term sustainable success for any organization is the need to plan: to create a roadmap that sets the direction and defines the destination/objective of where the organization is headed. Despite the feeling that there is never enough time to "work in" the business, leaders must learn to dedicate the time necessary to "work on" the business.  


"Working on" the business requires planning, developing strategy and evaluating and re-evaluating the changing circumstances that have an impact on the organization. It means being proactive about planning; dedicating the necessary time to make it happen. Plans make the future happen as we would like to see it happen. Without it, as the following graphic shows, failing to plan is only planning to fail.


The framework for a Strategic Planning effort comes back to an articulation of a Vision. I encourage my clients to pick a point in the future and describe the organization so that it is clear and vivid. When the Vision is sufficiently described and communicated to everyone in the organization, it engages sensory receptors so that each person can see, feel, touch, taste, hear, and smell what it is like. It becomes a reality for everyone to become a part of.


Having a clear vision in place that defines the organization in the future establishes the goal line. Now it's time to assess where the organization is. Doing so helps clarify the steps necessary to move from the existing state to the goal line. These steps become the Mission of the organization. These Mission Critical steps help prioritize and orchestrate broad initiatives that move the organization toward that goal line so that the Vision can become reality.


Underlying both the Vision and Mission is the need to articulate the Values of the organization. These Values are the moral compass for the organization defining the principles and beliefs that guide decisions and operational protocols.


Having established the fundamentals of the strategy, a business plan can be developed to be the operational plan that moves the organization forward. All the requisite functional areas of the organization should be addressed that may include: marketing, sales, HR, financial, production, quality, sustainability. Each element should include distinct action items tied to stakeholder ownership and completion dates. These become the specific goals and objectives that can be tied to group and individual performance metrics and reinforce the broader Mission Critical steps.


Vision, Mission and Values are fundamental to the strategy plan. Each element together lays the foundation for a well thought-out business plan. As business conditions change, the Vision and Mission of the organization need to be reviewed and adjusted where necessary. The worst scenario is to continue to "work in" the business and not be cognizant of major market shifts that could make the current business strategy irrelevant.


The beginning of the 2nd Quarter of the year is an opportune time to reassess where you are with your strategy. Is the Vision still intact? Have you communicated it effectively to everyone who has a stake in the organization? Are your broad Mission Critical initiatives still the correct ones? Should you re-prioritize initiatives based on a shift in Vision or a change in market conditions?


And finally, are you prioritizing your time to be proactive about "working on" the business? The long-term sustainable success of your organization depends on it.


Take Control of Your Future - Strategically

by Tammy A.S. Kohl, President of Resource Associates Corporation


Over the years, businesses have embraced the fact that defining and having a strategic plan is an important component to long-term success. If you do not plan your direction, you cannot take control of your future. Many businesses are starting to be more aggressive in their strategic timetables. In addition to looking ahead three to five years and deciding where the organization needs and wants to be, more and more companies are becoming very aggressive in their short-term strategic analysis and review. With all the economic changes and uncontrollable outside distractions looking through the short-term strategic lens more frequently is required.


Your business' strategic plan is a living and fluid document. It needs to be visited and revisited in order to create the flexibility necessary to make required course corrections while achieving organizational goals. A strong strategic plan identifies critical success factors and when implemented, those critical success factors will create organizational alignment, surface challenges before they become fires and be the catalyst for breakthrough performance.


A must have for successful strategic planning is an operational dashboard. Just engaging in the strategic planning thought process and laying out the plan is not enough. The management team needs an operational dashboard to measure and evaluate current outcomes and data by which decisions can be made on a daily basis. A strategic plan that sits in a drawer or on a bookshelf to be revisited a year or two down the road is virtually useless. Taking the critical success factors from the plan and creating a dashboard gives management the business intelligence necessary to make solid decisions and to manage course corrections when they are required.


As important as it is for management to have this working document, it is also important that a version of the dashboard be shared and communicated to all employees. Every contributor in the organization has an interest in the progress and success of the company. The more they know about the organization's objectives and feel part of the big picture, the more they will take their contribution to the success of the plan seriously. With rare exception, most people want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.


Communicating the strategy and creating alignment in your organization is one of the most important things you can do beyond formulating the plan. Linking organizational goals with employee goals creates a driving force towards results. Alignment will make it much easier for you to push the organization in the right direction.


Creating alignment is significantly linked to employee's buy-in to the plan. Spending time to help your employees see how the future success of the organization impacts their career path and their personal success is critical. Communicate the details of the plan in a way that is easy to understand and reinforce your message often. Positive traction towards results is accomplished by frequently communicating and reinforcing the plan. The daily contributions of your employees will actually make the strategic plan a reality. Let them know where you want the organization to go so they can help take it there!