It’s that time of the year again…

Well, it’s that time of the year again when people are thinking about strategic and business planning for 2014 and beyond. Numbers are being crunched and most people are either being overly optimistic in their planning or sandbagging. You know who they are, those eager-beavers and those lay-in-the-weeds types.

Of course, not every company’s process is the same. But I can tell you from experience, there are a whole lot of business plans that look the same in many respects. Some look pretty much the same as last year’s plan, just change the date. With some, you could put another company’s name on the plan and it wouldn’t make much difference. Generic is really not a good quality in a business or strategic plan. Why bother?

When we work with a company on strategic development, one of the things we really pay attention to is how their strategy aligns with their people capabilities and their culture. You’d be surprised at how many times there is a huge disconnect between these and that does not make for good results.

So as you develop next year’s brilliant and dazzling plan, here are some things to think about:

The Strategy

You’ve most likely heard this before, but a company shouldn’t have more than 3-4 strategic goals for the year. The reason for this is because you need focus. Any more than 3-4 goals and it’s increasingly likely you won’t accomplish any one of them adequately. You want leadership and the troops focused on activities that will support the accomplishment of those goals. For that to happen effectively, you can’t have a lot of distractions. Focus, focus, focus.

The People

As you develop your plan for the year, do you have the right people in the right seats? And I’m not just talking about leadership. Do your people have the right capabilities to be able to implement your strategy effectively? Have you been developing various levels of employees so that you have some succession built into your business model? Do your employees know exactly what the company’s strategic goals are and what their role is in ensuring the achievement of those goals? Do they have the proper tools and resources?

The Culture

Ah, that pesky, elusive, esoteric detail called culture. It’s one of those soft things many business leaders tend to ignore in business planning. We all know it exists and we can usually describe it, but have you actually thought about how it does or doesn’t align with your strategy? Ignore that detail at your peril. Remember the old adage: Culture trumps strategy every time.

So in this year’s planning process, spend some time thinking about these three things, how they are intertwined and how they come together in your company. Strategy development is only the beginning of the process; it’s your people and your culture that will achieve those lofty goals. You can have the best strategy in the world but if it doesn’t align with your people capabilities and culture, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t get the results you want.


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