How to be Effective: Planning for the New Year
2018 is coming to a close and, as we head into the festive break and switch on the ‘out of office’, it’s a good time to review and reflect on the challenges and successes of the past year.
Are you happy with the position your business is in? Are there areas you want to improve on for the New Year? Have you identified how best to move forwards? Over the past weeks, I’ve covered goal-setting, ambition, the curses of being an entrepreneur and great strategy. Today - for my final post of the year - I am going to share what I think it takes to grow a business effectively.
To start with, it certainly takes some luck; you have to be in the right place at the right time, have the right people around you. You need to catch a break or two. But if you believe in the Sherlock Holmes adage that, ‘chance favours the prepared mind’, then what does it take to be prepared?
Here are the minimum requirements I think that you need:
1. A clear vision of the future (as you would like it to be) defined in terms of measurable outcomes
2. A set of values that define the way you, and the people in your orbit, will work together and what will not be tolerated
3. A diagnosis of the challenge between you and delivering on the vision
4. A strategy ‘kernel’ outlining the high-level approach to addressing the challenge: your “principles of battle” and the critical factors that will need to be managed
5. One or more value propositions, with assumptions gradually tested through customer engagement, that lead to feasible and desirable products/services
6. A viable business model expressing how those products/services will be created and sold to customers
7. An operating plan that measures how effectively the strategy and business models are being delivered over time
8. A feedback driven approach to leadership and management
9. A system that integrates these various components into a process that can be followed
The core of this methodology is to take a high-level position and convert it into the kind of valuable products and services that move your business in the right direction. Then you can build and deliver them - test it out, see how well they work.
The key is that, at each step of the process, you are measuring what is actually happening - not trusting to luck - and sensing whether you are moving in the right direction or not. Then you need to ask what you should do (whether it’s ‘more of the same’ or ‘make a change’).
Adopting almost any of these practices will give you an advantage but the real benefits begin to stack up when you approach them systematically, with the outputs of these processes feeding into each other.
So, if you’re looking to kick off the New Year by being more effective with your business, this should give you some food for thought to digest over the break.
Next up - how to develop a great vision statement. Until then….