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Congratulations! Much of the research, planning and preparatory activities are over. Now, comes the phase of the process where you focus on creating and designing what the future looks like. You do this, by making educated decisions about what path to take (your strategies) to arrive at your destination (vision).  

The focus is higher level, foundational dialogue to ensure that the entire planning team is fully aligned and in consensus of the fundamentals of the business, its vision, mission, culture and high level objectives.

Another fun thing about this phase of the Strategic Planning journey is that it’s “usually” all completed in day #1 of the Strategic Planning offsite. For some organisations this process can be a little longer due to size.

Before you get started with the offsite, it’s very useful to have criteria of all the inputs, required to have a successful offsite. A quick conference call with the staff involved in organising the offsite, to go through the criteria will ensure that you have not missed anything important for the event.

 

 

Steps 12 to 17 are usually performed during Day #1 of an offsite workshop with the Planning Team, which includes senior executives, specialists, functional leaders, etc.

Step #12: Understand your Vision

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
Planning Team n/a Agreed Company Vision Statement

 

Your Vision Statement is your north star. It should not be quantifiable, rather a high level future state (think 5-10 year horizon), one where your organisation has achieved its purpose.  Remember that your vision statement should be ambitious, should bold and it should “wow” those who read it. It’s essentially, the statement that should make people want to work for the organisation.

Some guidelines for you to consider when constructing your Vision Statement:

  1. Should be ambitious and bold
  2. It should be inspiring
  3. It should give purpose
  4. Aligned to your core competencies
  5. Should paint a picture of the future

Here are some examples of amazing Vision statements:

Human Rights Campaign: Equality for everyone

Oxfam: A just world without poverty

Clinton Foundation: To implement sustainable programs that improve access worldwide to investment, opportunity, and lifesaving services now and for future generations. 

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families

Tesla: to create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.

SpaceX: Enable people to live on Mars.

Amazon: Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Step #13: Understand your Mission

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
Planning Team n/a Agreed Company Mission Statement

 

Your Mission Statement should be a more practical statement outlining how your organisation is working to achieve its Vision. A clear articulation of your organisation’s purpose along with some form of measurable constraints will do the trick. The statement should answer the question of “Why?” you are attempting to achieve your vision.

Some guidelines for you to consider when constructing your Mission Statement:

  1. Should be realistic
  2. Should be aligned to what your core competencies
  3. Should be clearly articulated and unambiguous
  4. It should focus on satisfying your customer’s wants and needs

Here are some examples of awesome Mission statements:

Tesla: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport.

Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

American Express: We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.

Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

ASOS: To become the number 1 fashion destination for 20-somethings globally.

PayPal: To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.

Step #14: Define your culture

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
Planning Team Employee Survey List of words and phrases that define the Values that define the business culture (5-10)

 

Your culture is defined by the values that are embodied by everyone in the organisation.  Values are a list of words and phrases that form part of your organisation’s unique DNA.

Each word and phrase represents the beliefs, priorities and behaviors that everyone should embody in the pursuit of delivering value to your customers.

Furthermore, values should have a significant influence in the types of projects and initiatives that your organisation decides to take on.

Some guidelines for you to consider when constructing your list of values:

  1. Between 5-9 should do the trick
  2. Should be words and/or small phrases
  3. Passionate
  4. Take input from the Employee Survey Results
  5. You should be able to implement it (train, align yearly objectives, etc)

Here are some examples of brilliant Value statements:

Seventh Generation

  1. Restore the Environment
  2. Inspire Conscious Consumption
  3. Create a Just and Equitable World

 

Accenture

  1. Stewardship
  2. The Best People
  3. Client Value Creation
  4. Respect for the Individual
  5. Integrity

 

Facebook

  1. Focus on impact
  2. Move fast
  3. Be Bold
  4. Be Open
  5. Build Social Value

 

Twitter

  1. Grow our business in a way that makes us proud
  2. Recognise that passion and personality matter
  3. Communicate fearlessly to build trust
  4. Defend and respect the user’s voice
  5. Reach every person on the planet
  6. Innovate through experimentation
  7. Seek diverse perspectives
  8. Be rigorous. Get it right
  9. Simplify
  10. Ship it

 

Step #15: Understand what is your unique value proposition

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
Planning Team
  • Employee Survey Results
  • Customer Analysis
  • Competitor Analysis
Defined Unique Value Proposition

 

Your unique value proposition is the unfair advantage your business holds against the competition, which allows your organisation to deliver customer value better than anyone else in the marketplace.

There are a number of resources, which have been produced and collated, in the previous phase (Surveys, customer and competitor analysis), which should be discussed in this step.

I’d like to highlight here that understanding your unique value proposition is a continuous process. This step is designed to stimulate discussion based on the information at hand and to document what the senior leaders of the business see as the competitive advantage at this point in time.

Some guiding principals about what a competitive advantage is:

  1. Difficult for your competition to copy
  2. Visible by your customers
  3. Its part of your core and your constantly working to make that advantage stronger

 

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Step #16: Define Overarching objectives

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
Planning Team SWOT Analysis 4-6 high level objectives Balanced Scorecard Template

 

These are constant, broad and long-lived objectives that need to be in place in order fro your organisation to achieve its vision. There are usually 4 main categories of objectives as defined in the Balanced Score Card, a framework introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in the 90’s.  In the diagram below, you can see each swim lane represents an objective category. Your job in the step is to define 1-5 visions aligned, measurable and long-term objectives per category. Its useful to understand the relationship between them.

Below is an example of a Balanced Scorecard to give you an idea about how its can be used and constructed. You can use the Balanced Scorecard Template to start with.

Remember that each objective needs to meet the SMART Goal criteria below:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Time Bound

 

Step #17: Define organisation-wide strategies

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
Planning Team SWOT analysis An organisation-wide strategy

 

An organisation-wide strategy helps you marry you’re your organisation’s strengths with opportunities. The result when consistently applied is that you will be on the front of your customer’s mind upon having a need. This strategy explains the high level “how” your business is going to achieve its vision. The lower level strategies that you will define later on in this journey should be guided by this top-level guiding strategy. The framework we use group Strengths into two broad categories (cost advantage and differentiation).

By applying these categories to the magnitude of the target market you are operating in, you end up with 3 distinct strategies.

Create Value via Operational Efficiency

Basically, this strategy is for those businesses that master operational excellence, and as a consequence, they are able to reduce costs to a point where they compete, on being the lowest cost provider for a given product/service.

Some of the players employing this strategy include Dell, Ikea, AirAsia, IGA.

Create Value via Product Leadership

This strategy focuses on innovation, uniqueness, first to market, demand creation. Companies employing this strategy provide their customers with a constant stream of new products and services that are unique and forward thinking.

Some players employing this strategy include Apple, Canva, Tesla, Atlassian

Create Value via Customer Intimacy

In a narrow market segment, companies use this strategy, which is basically developing a thorough understanding of the customer’s wants and needs, creating bespoke solutions to their problems.

 

Final point to highlight on this step is that all organisations need to have elements of all 3 strategies embedded in their strategic planning. This exercise is here so that the Planning Team understands which one should be the primary strategy that leads the overall plan of attack.