Strategic Planning Tip and Tool

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 12, 2019

strategic Planning

Strategic planning is important for any company that wants to break out of the mold and dramatically scale up business.  Strategy, however, can be a challenge for some companies. On the one hand, it seems simple. On the other hand, it sounds complex. In reality, it’s a bit of both and here’s an article that talks about that strategy dichotomy.  I’d like to share a tip and a tool for strategic planning that simplifies things—at least for getting started.

A Strategy Tip: 3 Magic Words from Employees and Clients

If you want to be strategic about meeting the needs (and winning the business) of your clients, it’s not a bad idea to ask them how you’re already doing. But if you ask a general question such as, “How are we doing” you’re most likely to get a general (and not very helpful) response such as: “OK.” Instead, use the three “magic” words: Start; Stop, and Keep. When you ask your existing clients how you’re doing ask:

  • What should we start doing?

This will tell you where you’re not currently meeting needs. It’s an indicator of changes you may want to make.

  • What should we stop doing?

This will tell you where you are disappointing your customers or performing a service that isn’t helpful. Again, this signals that you need to make a change. But the good news is that it could free up resources that you can use elsewhere.

  • What should we keep doing?

The answers you get here are indicative of areas where you are delivering value. You’ll want to think specifically about how to strengthen this and do it better. This is why your customers do business with you. Don’t ignore it or take it for granted.

Keep in mind that while helpful, the feedback you get is only a small part of your strategic plan. Don’t expect your customers or your clients to set your strategy. Still, their feedback can be helpful in letting you know what you’re doing right and remind you about some of their needs.

A Tool For Evaluating Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends

Company StrategyA big part of creating a strategic plan to move your business forward is to take a serious look at trends in your specific industry. What’s changing? What are customers looking for? Then you’ll also want to look at your own strengths and weaknesses. Are you in a strong position to meet your clients’ changing needs? If not, what changes do you need to make?

Many businesses are familiar with doing something called a Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunity/Threat (SWOT) exercise for evaluating their position. That can be very helpful, but can sometimes pull companies “down in the weeds” and inward focused when dealing with weaknesses and threats. Another tool that is perhaps better suited to strategic thinking and planning is to simplify the process and look at Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends.

Start by taking a look at trends. Focus on what’s developing in your industry. Often you clients are so wrapped up in “doing business” that they miss changes that are happening around them. (It can happen to your business, too!). Plus, focusing on trends will shape how you look at your inherent strengths and weaknesses. It can give you a good idea of what you may need to change within your company.

This tip and tool can simplify the beginnings of your strategic planning. They are, however, just the beginning. In my years as a business coach, I’ve walked many companies through the strategic planning process. It can actually be fun and invigorating when you start to dig down into what can make your business stand apart and achieve phenomenal success.

You can try these ideas on your own. If you feel like you’re not getting the information you need—or simply want more help creating your strategy, let’s talk and find out if we’re a good fit for one another!

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Photo illustration by geralt