Before you can answer this question you must know where you are now and how did you get there? With this question, you have to be honest with yourself. It is used to establish your present situation and to help you accept complete responsibility and accountability for it. No blame-storming allowed.
Outside forces might have contributed, but at some point, decisions were made to set your direction. You need to look at the good things about your business and make sure you maintain and improve the areas of your business that are good. But the real issue is what went wrong and why. What have you learned from your mistakes and what processes are you going to implement to stop them from happening again.
So start by writing down the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your business. What works and what does not. You now must decide where your business should be to ensure long-term success. As you think about where your organization is and where you need to be you must create a strategic plan to document the plans to take you where you want to be.
The strategic management process is about getting from Point A to Point B more effectively, efficiently, and enjoying the journey and learning from it. Part of that journey is the strategy and part of it is execution. Having a good strategy dictates “how” you travel the road you have selected and effective execution makes sure you are checking in along the way. On average, this process can take between three and four months. However no one organization is alike and you may decide to fast track your process or slow it down.
The work to keep a business running is enough to keep you busy. But being busy and building a business for tomorrow aren’t necessarily the same thing. The hard part is making sure today’s activities are building tomorrow’s opportunities. Take customer service as an example. Many consider customer service merely as a cost to be managed rather than a chance to strengthen a brand and loyalty. If you’ve got the attention of a customer, use it wisely. An ethos that engages and supports customers rather than minimizes interactions with them has a tendency to bode well for the future.
We’re in an era where we must be predictive and adaptive business leaders and professionals. Strategic planning is about timeframes with past, present and future considerations. Establish what your business should look like with timeframes. Planning used to focus on 3 to 5 year cycles. That has changed. Now we must keep our eye on short-term road trips with long term implications.
Successful businesses have to face challenges head on, whether it is embracing competition, dealing with unexpected events or being able to put customers and clients first and foremost, regardless of what circumstances may arise.
Socrates said - “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”
The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.