I recently heard a quote on a podcast, “You can’t know where your company is going if you don’t know where you are.” Imagine hiking along a wilderness trail and not consulting your map, or stopping to read trailhead posts, or leaving a GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) trail. Tip: always use your hiking buddy’s GORP and save your stash! Often, small businesses draft and finalize an annual strategic plan, then the document remains unopened on a shared folder for the entire year, collecting binary dust. You wander an entire year and never check to see where you are on the map. Conceras pleads guilty as charged. Our strategic plan always focused on revenue growth, target markets, and core competency development. But in the past, Conceras then went on to create an opportunity pipeline that didn’t align with the strategic plan, nor were opportunity action items specific, measurable or time bound. A great strategic plan now lies waste…again.
When your company’s strategic plan isn’t the focus of monthly and weekly planning, it’s difficult to communicate corporate vision and direction with staff members, particularly in the era of teleworking. Remote team members need to feel that their daily projects and tasks are part of a bigger plan, and their contributions are valued and aligned with the growth and success of the company. In addition, regular planning against the strategic plan creates impactful and priority tasks that are delegated across multiple people, encouraging and motivating the entire team to work on new assignments, and allowing executives to delegate responsibility and control. Now your team is following the same trail and headed in the right direction.
How does Conceras focus on our strategic plan and map monthly, weekly and daily projects and tasks to the plan? In 2022, we apply two new processes and tools. First, meetings. Yes, the dreaded meetings. Conceras conducts three Microsoft Teams meetings each week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There are two significant meetings: the first meeting of the month; and every Friday meeting. If the first meeting of the month lands on a Friday, well then, it’s an extraordinary meeting indeed, maybe even a virtual happy hour! Anyway, during the first meeting of the month, we review the previous month’s progress against the strategic plan, and discuss successes, issues and lessons. Usually, progress evaluations map to revenue targets or agency account plan development. During the first meeting of month, Conceras also plans projects and objectives for the upcoming month that align to the annual strategic plan. Every Friday, our team creates specific tasks and assignments for the upcoming week, tasks that map to monthly goals. We use an online dashboard to track weekly tasks. What dashboard? More on dashboards in a moment. During Friday meetings, we also conduct a weekly review of uncompleted tasks. Dashboards facilitate these reviews. Keeping the map visible and adjusting the course around trail obstructions will ultimately get your team to the summit, instead of stuck or headed in the wrong direction.
A Dashboard is like a corporate habit tracker. Conceras evaluated two online platforms: Monday and Hubspot. Our analysis, design and implementation of these systems are for another blog post, maybe two posts. The key takeaway here is having a trusted system to conduct task spot checks, a simple yes/no test on whether a task is completed, or not. I like Kanban-style user dashboards for visual reporting of tasks, especially with a remote workforce. With this graphical interface, it’s easy to see which tasks aren’t completed. On Teams calls, Conceras discusses if a task needs a different approach or skills to complete assignment. For the task assignee, this is a skills growth opportunity to expand training, knowledge and role in the company. Or perhaps the company needs to hire an outside consultant to support an opportunity task area, making an immediate impact on project progress.
At Conceras Connect, we seek to build a community by allowing others to share and contribute to the conversation. What successes or challenges has your company had with implementing and tracking progress of an annual strategic plan? Please leave a comment and share your approach and tips. In closing, one last tip, when creating a weekly task, make sure it’s specific and measurable. Bad task example – check out potential teaming partners. Good task examples – 1) research 2-3 existing or new partners performing work in target opportunity market by Wednesday; 2) Send e-mail to said companies with opportunity profile and Conceras strengths by Thursday; 3) Create capabilities matrix from previous or current PWS by Friday. You get the picture. Happy trails!