Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Upstream and Downstream

One of the overlooked ways to improve your strategic planning is by thinking about how your organization fits into the bigger picture.  An excellent exercise in strategic thinking is to take a minute and think about why you are important both upstream and downstream in the value chain.  In other words, what makes you important to your suppliers, and what makes you important to your customers.
I like to closely examine any ideas this may spark about win-win activities that might involve the upstream or downstream players.  A good example would be a social networking site which encourages you to invite friends - you are helping them by growing their network, and helping yourself by expanding the network you can draw upon within that site.  This particular win-win activity goes a long way to explain the rapid growth of social networks as both a business and recreational tool.
Question to ask in your strategic planning:  What activities might you encourage that create a similar win-win situation for your upstream and downstream stakeholders?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Starting the year right

One of the best ways to assure your company has a good year is to have a concrete, documented strategic planning process.  Ideally, your strategic planning should occur during a time when it will have less impact on your routine operations, but the key point is that you actually schedule and hold strategic planning meetings.  To minimize conflict and schedule issues, it's also a good idea to plan your meetings one or two months in advance, and possible even longer if your team has difficult travel schedules.  I've found that you will get a lot more out of your team if you hold your planning meeting off-site and work with a professional strategic planner who is not going to try to use the process to sell you other consulting.  If you can afford to get your team out of town to a nice destination, it is definitely worth the effort, as your team will look forward to the process and view strategic planning as something to look forward to.  Start your year off well by scheduling your strategic planning this week!