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Big or Small, Strategic Planning is for All!

Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Big or Small, Strategic Planning is for All!

Why?  Lao Tzu stated, If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."  Strategic planning is akin to the map and navigation software we use when we are heading out on a trip: we know where we want to go and we are looking for the best route to get there.  Imagine getting into your vehicle and when Siri asks, “What is your destination?”  You respond with, “Anywhere is fine, just as long as I’m moving.”  That is a common unintentional approach that many small and medium sized businesses take to planning. 

Who?  For small/medium sized companies the planning should start with the owners picking the destination and then involving the operational leaders to fill out the near term activities needed to support the goals.  Those goals should be shared with the entire company for top to bottom and bottom up clarity.

When?  Annually is the most common and the smaller the company, the less time the process should take.  The meetings should be held away from the phones of the business during a dedicated time that doesn’t allow for interruptions.  The future is very important to all businesses and if it can’t function without the owner’s input to “put out customer fires” then the business may have other challenges to address.

How to make it work?

Share the goals and Key Performance Indicators: your staff believes in you and the company; share your vision of the coming year with them.

Keep Score in a highly visible manner: share actual results compared to your planned goals.  Review them with your team on a regular basis.  Ask them for their opinions on how operations are performing and how to improve.    Depending on the size of the company, the results should be posted in the time frame that makes the most sense: daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly are common in successful firms.

Review as a team:  employees want to hear the owner’s or key manager’s interpretation of the results and the next steps.  Do this routinely and your staff will feel much more attuned to the company’s future.

Strategic planning and sharing company operating information are difficult for many small and medium sized business owners to implement.  However, committing to the process will greatly increase the company’s ability to meet its goals and will gain more commitment to the future by its employees.


Jeff Chaffin

Principal, The Executive Influence

Phone: 517.853.2570, ext. 570

Find us on the web:


Tags:  Business  Goals  Key Performance Indicators  Small Business  Strategic Planning  Team 

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