(Co-Authored by Aaron Schulman & Tim Scholten)
Whether you are a business owner, a sole-proprietor, a non-profit, or a financial institution, you will need to learn how to properly “assess” your business strategy and tactics so that you not only have proper goals, but have a realistic roadmap to reach them.
But what do you assess?
How do you assess your strategic plan effectively and efficiently?
If you are a principal, or part of a business that doesn’t plan strategically, or plans and sets goals but rarely achieves them, you need to learn how to assess your strategic planning and execution so that your goals are championed by your team and you experience significant growth.
Assessing should be a normal part of your quarterly and annual strategic planning and mapping so that you are learning how to properly prioritize time and delegate responsibility to see the best possible functioning and growth of your company.
Some symptoms & signs that your business / team needs to master “Assessing“
-You are struggling to meet your day-to-day objectives
-You don’t look to the future very often
-You feel like you do strategy on your own
-You rarely talk to customers
-You rarely ask customers or employees for feedback
-Your strategy doesn’t change much from year to year
-Your board doesn’t ask for updates on your strategy
-You haven’t ever done a SWOT analysis
-You don’t know why your competitors are constantly beating you
After you master the skill of “Assessing” in our Marketing Beating Strategy Workshop, your business will exhibit these characteristics of a thriving business:
-You are consistently looking to the future
-You are able to identify new initiatives that will help you grow or improve profits
-Your team is actively involved in brainstorming new ideas and ways of improving the business or making money
-You meet regularly with customers to find out what they need
-You ask customers for feedback regularly
-You ask employees for feedback regularly
-You revise your strategy annually or more often
-You frequently do a SWOT analysis
-You know why your performance is what it is compared to competitors
In our Market Beating Strategy (™), we will help you Assess all possible strategies and tactics that are needed to achieve your goals, creating a clear roadmap for you and your team to follow.
Additionally, you and your team will have full ownership of your assessment and achievement process. It’s not just something we do for you, but it’s something we help you grow into so that this year’s ceiling is next year’s ground floor.
Your roadmap, and taking ownership of it, will help you avoid confusion of priority, timing and responsibility that causes so many companies to fail to execute their plans.
If you believe you need some help with your strategic planning, specifically with the assessment piece, schedule a free half hour session with us and we will get you moving in the right direction quickly, with crystal clarity!
How does “assessing” get practical results where progress is truly visible?
Unlike most strategic planning, which takes place once a year to satisfy shareholders or owners, our process is distilled down to a very simple, actionable plan so that goals and key initiatives are aligned, simple and clear, and everyone takes personal responsibility as they become energized and motivated about doing their part, because they can see how their strategic piece is crucial and beneficial to the overall momentum and success of the team.
And, without healthy accountability, most companies don’t typically grow.
Many people have a negative concept of accountability because it is often used historically, to discipline people for doing the wrong thing vs. healthy, growth centered accountability where everyone knows their part clearly, and they cheer each other on to the fulfillment of the bigger key initiatives.
Accountability that is mostly penalizing versus being positive, motivating and rewarding is unhealthy and carries a critical tone that eats away at the morale of the individual and the team.
The way accountability is approached is a critical component of your company’s culture, which has a more significant impact on productivity and longevity of your team’s career than most realize.
In this “spirit” of healthy accountability, “Assessing” includes taking each of your initiatives and defining who is going to do what and by when.
I call it W3.
In addition to W3 you need to determine the time and materials (real cost) of implementing this strategy.
Once you know what it is going to take, who is allocated to the initiative for how many hours and what other resources and costs you need to make sure this project is completed on time, you can begin to prioritize your initiatives or move on to the next step, which is “Choose” in our Market Beating Strategy (™). This stage means choosing the initiatives that you have the time and resources to achieve that will get you to your goal.
Case Study 1 – How To Turn A Plan Into Visible Progress
In one account, I worked with a client that had never seen strategic planning as strategic to their business.
They laid out goals each year and asked their teams to commit to the goals, but never really followed up on progress. They never really focused on the goals. They never talked about them other than when they set them.
Once set, they were simply put in a notebook on the shelf to be dusted off the beginning of next year.
No one was held accountable therefore everything else that came up received the focus and attention of the team.
This is exactly how the “urgent” dominates and dictates what gets done on a team, whether it is important to the strategic growth of the company or not.
The real strategy never got accomplished.
Year after year, this was the same story.
The CEO couldn’t figure out why their performance was so mediocre.
Here is what happens when you take this approach.
Your goals and initiatives may be completely unrealistic.
You may not have the people resources, time, or funding to implement your initiatives and as a result start but not ever be able to finish.
This type of approach ultimately leads to a team of people that don’t believe in strategic planning because it is never treated as strategic.
Ultimately they don’t believe it is realistic or maybe even possible.
So how did we help positively change this?
After working with them to detail out their initiatives, taking the time to understand the real cost and benefits of their initiatives, everyone was able to see where the most significant impacts would be on both growth and profits.
The team then got passionate about this step of assessing initiatives, because of their new sense of “clarity” and “contribution”!
This is where the HARD work is done.
Where true priorities start to surface from a list of good ideas.
Needless to say, this team has never looked back and the company has been transformed from the inside-out!
Case Study 2 – How do you eat an elephant?
Another client I worked with saw the benefit of assessing because of the way we treated each initiative as a mini project plan with a simple business case.
Their eyes were opened to all the steps they had previously missed in the planning stage by involving the entire management team in assessing initiatives.
Having more eyes on the initiatives and planning before they ever became a project helped them put the right people on the initiative and outline the key steps needed to achieve the initiative and they uncovered the most passionate people to drive that initiative to success.
This ultimately improved their ability to resource and execute their chosen initiatives. Team members were excited about both leading and working on strategic initiatives for the business.
Getting an initiative started was much easier since there was a W3 outline for each initiative.
This approach also helped them know which initiative to NOT start, and which initiatives to delay until another initiative could fund this one.
Their return on investment (ROI) approach to strategy completely changed the direction of their business.
They went from also no growth to outperforming their peers consistently.
They transformed from a team that wasn’t accountable for results to one that held each other accountable because the team understood the interdependence of certain initiatives, meaning if one of the early initiatives was missed, they were likely to miss on them all.
And this is how you build a team that positively contributes to overcome challenges and brings healthy, constructive accountability, versus a constrictive and penalizing culture.
When applied correctly, the assessing phase can energize your team and transform your results.
This step takes time but the rewards are lifelong.
It means once you have your creative ideas, someone needs to take ownership by doing a bit of work to determine what it will take to execute this initiative and what the true benefits are.
I recommend that this be done by the initiative owners or business leaders with input from their teams and whoever else may need to be consulted on the idea.
Take a week or two to gain the basic information and metrics to make a quality decision on prioritizing all your initiatives.
DON’T SKIP THIS STEP.
This is where most strategies break down.
They don’t do the work to know which initiatives are right and doable.
When that happens consistently the teams lose confidence in their leadership’s ability to focus on the right things.
The mindset of “this too shall pass” creeps in and procrastination sets in.
-So where is your team on the roadmap of “Assessing”?
-Do you create a plan and then look back over the year, wondering why many or most of your goals were not realized?
-Do you have a critical or negative culture that penalizes and limits people versus rewarding and creating a cohesive sense of unity that creates its own exciting momentum?
-Do you have a strategic plan at all?
Give us a call for a brief, no-nonsense strategy session and we’ll help you.
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