Strategic Plan Assessment

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Your score is: 5/100

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Our team has a clearly defined and communicated growth strategy for at least the next 1-3(+) years?

<4 - You’re in trouble. “If it’s cloudy in the mountains, it’s raining in the valley.” No one can align to goals that are not clearly communicated and applied to their area of responsibility.

4-6 - Shaky ground. You’re saying there is a 50/50 chance this strategy is going to work. Leaders can’t lead with this much uncertainty around them. If they try to, those reporting to them will be able to discern their reservations.

7-10 - Excellent. Keep communicating the plan and when appropriate, solicit feedback from the team members closest to the customers to help you refine where suitable.

Misc: If strategy has not been communicated from the top to lowest paid employee, how can you reasonably expect to achieve your organizational goals? An average strategy clearly communicated is better than a great strategy vaguely communicated.

How confident are you that the communicated strategies are being implemented throughout the executive team and second level management team(s)?

<4 – If you don’t stop what your doing and call a meeting immediately, you’re delusional to think your team is going to hit any goals.

4-6 – You know what happens when we assume. If you are not communicating your strategic initiatives consistently, because you think your team is dialed in, you’re in trouble. Here is an exercise for your next leadership meeting: have your team write out their top 3 goals for the quarter. Then have them write out the top 3 corporate strategies you are working on as a team. Have them pass in their papers and see how aligned your team is. (Make sure the team understands this is a communications issue that you as the leader are taking responsibility for).

7-10 – Great Job. Keep reiterating it. Find a word picture or analogy that reinforces the key points of your strategy. Reward and acknowledge employees that are moving the needle on those strategies.

How confident are you that the strategies identified in your plan are going to get you where you want to go?

<4 – The ship may be sinking. It could simply be a misalignment of priorities. Regardless, if you score low here, you need to pull your team together and reconsider your next steps.

4-6 – Get more data points to make more confident decisions. When teams lack confidence in the leaders identified strategies, it’s often because leadership is relying on intuition and lack the data to validate direction. Get an objective perspective and data from more places – especially those closest to the problem (or opportunity). Especially from the customer.

7-10 – Keep driving! Plan the work, work the plan…the plan will work.

All senior leaders have written financial goals for the year and an organized plan to achieve those goals.

<4 - Can’t help you here much. Like the great Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

4-6 – Not bad, but it could be better. If you have high numbers on questions 1-4, then a little refinement here will go a long way here. If your numbers are low on questions 1-4,then you’re probably just running off an annual budget not a strategic plan. You’re in no man’s land. Just do your best to define success and hope you don’t get fired.

7-10 - Nice! Now the focus is supporting the team and getting out of their way. Let the horses run.

Our leadership has a data-driven grasp on where we stand in the market related to our competition?

<4 - I would be willing to bet your competition has moved past you.

4-6- If you score in this range, there is no way you have the confidence to make market-driven decisions. What data can you get to assist you in gaining insights? Do you have likeminded businesses in non-competitive markets you might talk to? Get market insights from? Any data that can be objective will be better than what you currently have.

7-10 - Outstanding. Hats off to you for capturing the data and using it. A question to consider; Since almost all data used for market positioning is lagging, is there any data that you can identify that might be “leading indicator” data? : If you’re in mortgage lending, what would be some leading market data the Federal Reserve would use to consider raising interest rates? This kind of data will help you anticipate market shifts— hopefully before your competition does.

Our leadership has an understanding as to where our main revenue products/services are in their life cycles (accelerating, booming, declining, dying) and the foreseeable longevity of those products/services?

<4 - Have you heard of Blockbuster Video?

4-6 - If you don’t have alignment as to where products and revenue are in their lifecycles, you cannot effectively build a strategy for the future. It will be business as usual…and then you will wake up and the customer will have found another solution.

7-10 - Great. Pro tip: Begin talking about what’s in the pipeline to replace those products/services as existing products/programs age out?

Our leadership team has a good grasp of current market trends and how to position our products/service in light of those trends.

<4 - What can you read or research to begin to get a handle on market trends? Staying current is a must.

4-6 - The market is ALWAYS changing. If you are not anticipating or reading trends you will get left behind. What are the customers looking for? How are their tastes and preferences changing?

7-10 - Stay on it.

Our leadership team has a good grasp of internal trends, employee engagement, and culture?

<4 - Refocus here ASAP. Labor churn is so expensive and more than likely, your staff will leave you and head over to your competition making matters worse for you.

4-6 - Welcome to the masses. This is a really hard number to gauge but it is so critical. Stay in the battle here. Culture is everything and it boils down to people. You don’t have a business without your people. Curious how to move forward in this area? Get out of your chair and go talk to your supervisors and line-level employees. Be teachable and humble, beg them for honest, open feedback, and they will tell you where you stand on this matter.

7-10 – Are you sure about this number? Not that I don’t believe you but, the leader is usually the last to know on these matters. If you have done an engagement survey in the past 12 months— awesome. If not, your score might be a bit high.

Our entire organization can identify our primary customer.

<4- Little secret to this question- you already have a primary customer. Your products or services are drawing a primary customer. Is that customer going to get you to where you want to go? Is a pivot necessary?

4-6- If you are in this score range – is the issue related to not knowing the customer or having not communicated through the company “who the customer is?” This is not a chicken or egg scenario. If you can’t clearly identify the customer, start there, and then begin your communication strategy to your team. By the way, if you can’t identify the customer, how are you building your strategy?

7-10 - Well done. This means that you have articulated the “who” and probably the “why” you serve. Here is a follow follow-up question to ponder: Do you know what are your primary customer’s values? Not what they value about your product or services, but what their core values are as individuals? This can help significantly in your messaging and strategy.

We have a talent strategy connected to our business strategy giving us the best opportunity to accomplish our annual goals?

<4 - Hope is not a strategy. The best strategic plans have to be carried out by the best people. Build teams based on their abilities to hit goals not based on tenure or politics. If you continue to miss goals and projections, there is a strong likelihood that it is going to show up here in a lacking people strategy.

4-6 - Business plans don’t self-execute. People execute the plan and if you don’t have a people plan then you are only hoping for good outcomes. This is Jim Collins’ concept of having the right people in the right seats on the bus. Assessing employees’ gifts, skills, and abilities to make sure they match the needs and requirements of the strategic initiatives is where you need to start.

7-10 - You are a very rare company. Congratulations! Work the plan.

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