The Awesome Adventure of Planning for the Year Ahead

strategic planning

Some of us relish this time of the year: strategic planning time. Like children anticipating and hoping for what may be under the tree on Christmas morning, we entrepreneurs look forward to the endless possibilities of the year ahead. For us, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Every organization plans for the year ahead a bit differently – some take on facilitated strategic planning, others dust off their plans from previous years, and still others put their finger in the air to see where the wind might be blowing in their favor (otherwise known as guessing).

Admittedly, I am a strategic planning nerd. To quote one of my team members, I become “giddy” at the prospect of planning the goals, marketing, and budgeting for the upcoming year.

To me, it’s an awesome adventure. Why? And how can you or your team make it a fun-filled process? Here’s some ideas that may make it more engaging and enjoyable for everyone involved:

Embrace Your Team. Planning should never be done by one or few members of your organization. Tap into the formal and informal leaders in your organization. Make sure all areas of your business are included – from new business development, to team or departmental managers to product and/or service line directors. Each person has invaluable insight and expertise. Sometimes it’s hard to hear their feedback, but if allowed to give it freely, it will make you and your organization much, much stronger in the end.

Be Open About Failures. Let’s face it, it’s easy (and fun!) to shout your successes from the rooftops. It’s much more humbling to admit challenges and failures. But whether you do or don’t, the failures still happened and can serve as valuable lessons. Talking about challenges openly and honesty allows members of the team to give – and gain – insight about what could be done differently in the future. After all, if not addressed, challenges have a way of reinventing themselves and popping up time and again.

Assign Ownership. Planning does not mean that any one person should own the initiatives. In fact, spreading the accountability and ownership of the strategic planning activities ensures a fresh perspective in tackling them and many times, a better outcome. Giving individuals an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership skills and earn your trust in their efforts goes a long way towards the culture, results, and profitability of your company. Always define the ideal outcome (but don’t micromanage how to get there) and provide draft and final deadline dates.

Don’t Forget the Fun. As much as business planning is about the numbers, products, and services, don’t forget to address goals for positive culture-driving activities. As renown management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Sure, fun and culture-enhancing activities can be spontaneous but if you don’t have goals around reinforcing what’s best about your organization, you may lose those special qualities. And what’s the fun in that?

There’s most definitely work involved in strategic planning for the year but with renewed optimism and a game plan for the next 365 days, you can find it to be an awesome adventure as well. If you need assistance getting started, Chartwell Agency has helped hundreds of organizations in their planning needs.