If you’re serious about growing your business you need a plan. And, no it doesn’t have to be an elaborate document. In fact when it comes to strategic plans, my view is that simpler is better. Now, to create a great strategic plan you need to follow a reliable planning process. In other words, a step-by-step strategy formulation and planning method.
A good strategic planning process should be robust, but must not inhibit your creativity. Most importantly, the process you choose needs to clearly answer these questions:
- Who is our target audience or customer?
- What is our strategic position?
- What is our strategy and brand?
- What is our business structure, systems and culture?
- How do we generate high-value brand awareness and engagement from our target audience?
- How do we profitably convert brand awareness into customers?
- How do we convert one-time customers into long-time customers?
- How do we increase gross margins and optimize costs?
So, with those thoughts and questions in mind, let me introduce you to two strategic planning processes. The first one comes from a leading business school textbook on strategy, Strategic Management Theory, by Charles W.L. Hill and Gareth R. Jones. (9th edition published by South Western, Cengage Learning)
At over 500 pages long, Strategic Management Theory is a heavy read. But hey, it’s a textbook after all. And so, it comprehensively covers both the theory and application of strategy.
Despite its theoretical underpinnings though, Strategic Management Theory is an excellent book. My first copy is more than 14 years old, and I refer to it regularly.
In Strategic Management Theory the authors outline a process for creating and developing a strategic plan, which is shown here:
My thoughts on the model? Its covers the planning bases quite well. For instance, it includes key areas of strategy such as mission, vision and values, SWOT analysis, and the development of structure, culture and control.
The model tends to get complex though in that you are introduced to variations of strategy, such as:
- Functional-level strategy
- Business-level strategy
- Global strategy
- Corporate-level strategy
Some quick definitions?
Functional level strategy relates to improving operational effectiveness across business functions such as production, marketing and HR.
Business-level strategy is the plan of action chosen to give a firm a competitive advantage.
Global strategy concerns strategic options a company can pursue to compete on a global scale
Corporate strategy refers to business areas a company chooses to participate in via such options as vertical integration and diversification But, the strategies don’t end there.
In Strategic Management Theory readers are introduced to even more strategies including the multi-domestic strategy, international strategy, transnational strategy, embryonic strategy, share-building strategy, shakeout strategy, vertical integration strategy, differentiation strategy and emergent strategy.
Although the process covers many bases, in my view Hill and Jones have watered down the definition and meaning of strategy with so many different representations of the word. So, for some people this can be confusing.
Most importantly though, the process doesn’t clearly answer all the questions I posed earlier.
The funny thing is though, insofar as traditional planning processes are concerned, this is one of the better ones. In my career I’ve come across over a hundred different processes and models – and most are really terrible.
In any strategic plan, the answers to the questions outlined above should be laid out in a clear and concise manner. If not, it’s not a good process.
Anyway, having seen the missing pieces in traditional strategic planning processes, I decided to research and develop my own model. Let me introduce it to you.
An alternative strategy making and strategic planning process
The second process is built into my Strategic Growth System and is based on the research and developmental work I’ve done in the field of strategy. The process I’ve developed is based upon the principle of the “To Do” list. And, what I’ve done is highlight the most important “to do” items for strategically growing a business.
Updated in March 2017, the steps in the process are self-explanatory. And, the overall system I liken to a recipe for your favorite cake. Let me explain.
When baking, a recipe tells you the ingredients and tools you need, and then provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the tools to turn the ingredients into a delicious delight.
In essence, the cake recipe provides structure and a process that when properly followed, produces a great result.
When you have a proven strategic planning and business growth system at your fingertips:
You have the required recipe for business growth.
You know what business growth tools you need.
You have a step-by-step structure to follow.
When something goes wrong, the methodology will help point out the cause.
Your business becomes more systematized. This means it will be easier for employees, franchisees and/or licensees to duplicate and implement your systems.
You get far better results in a more consistent and predictable manner.
This approach is such a system. Built upon sound principles of natural law and business science, my system is a powerful recipe for growing a business.
Let me repeat. It is important for you to have a process for formulating winning strategies and plans. But that process must be reliable and robust, and it must not inhibit creativity. And finally, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the process and subsequent plan must answer these questions:
- What is our strategic position and brand?
- How do we generate high-value brand awareness and engage our target audience
- How do we make money?
Want to know how to apply the Strategic Growth System to your business? Then read about my range of strategy consulting and coaching services. Find out more by clicking this link which introduces Ben’s strategy consulting and consulting services.