We don’t know about you, but we find it’s helpful to think about things in phases. That’s why, when we start thinking about creating a business strategy, we think in terms of the PAST, the PRESENT, and the FUTURE.
You may be thinking, why on earth consider the past when we’re looking to the future? Well, we know it may seem a little strange, and we can all have our odd moments(!), but we think looking at the past gives us some real insights.
Looking at the past can really help us in all sorts of instances. For example, as a director in a new role, one day I asked of one of my team why they had made a specific decision that impacted negatively on some of our clients; the person turned around and said, ‘it’s because that’s the way it’s always been done.’ It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? And why would we let that happen? But, I suppose we can all become ‘institutionalised’ to a degree and that can cause us to carry on doing things without asking the question why we are doing it.
When you think about the PAST it may help you to consider:
1) what from the past may be holding you back now;
2) what should you stop doing;
3) what has been and is still working for you; and
4) what little gem, product, process is in there that you should consider further developing?
There might also be a big elephant in the room – something that nobody ever talks about (probably because it’s a sensitive area), but this can be really damaging for the business if it isn’t addressed.
If you really want to move your business forward, we’d recommend that the PAST is a great place to start. It helps you put issues on the table for discussion, gets you to consider how you may want to develop further what is working well for you; and highlights what you may need to stop doing and by when.
Having dealt with the past, you should be feeling quite pleased with yourself and, in some ways, cathartic. Dealing with the past is a cleansing process – a bit similar to clearing out the garage of all the rubbish; the stuff you never use and really don’t need; and then tidying up and putting in place the remaining items that you value! You’re now ready to look at the present.
There are several key factors to consider in the PRESENT; this is the environment in which you are currently working. This is a biggie! It covers everything from analysing the external market conditions; the feedback from people you work with – customers, employees, suppliers; analysing what your competitors are up to; thinking about the products and services you offer; to identifying the business’s internal strengths and weaknesses and the external opportunities and threats.
Wow, we know that might seem a lot of work and it’s probably best to break this down into smaller chunks and not get to overwhelmed by it. Remember how in our last blog we spoke about engaging your team – this is a great time to take some of the load from your shoulders and give members of your team more responsibility and the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities. If you involve them in the process it will not only help them think differently about what it takes to run a business (and what responsibilities you carry!), but it will also help them develop some new knowledge and skills.
There are a few ways you could go about this – you could identify who you would like to work on developing the strategy with you; OR you could have an initial team meeting to share with them what you are trying to achieve and then ask for volunteers – this in itself may even raise a few surprises! Remember though, people may react differently to your request(s), for all manner of reasons, so you probably ought to think about what would work best in your business and how it will be perceived before you decide. If, as a business, you already have staff appraisals or performance reviews as one of your processes, you can always build these activities into your team’s objectives and give them a timeline to complete the activities.
Now we’re getting to the really constructive and exciting part! Building the plan for the next 0-3 years. If you’ve involved members of the team within the PRESENT phase, you’ll definitely want them to be involved in the FUTURE phase of the process too. Remember, two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two!
In our earlier blog, we spoke about why it’s important to engage your people in the strategic planning process – especially as they’re the ones that are expected to deliver it. If they are involved and make a contribution to the strategic plan, they’re far more likely to be motivated about the future and want to deliver the goods! I’ll give you an example.
I recently worked with a gentleman who enrolled onto our CLC Mastermind Programme. He had recently taken full control of a business and, due to the pace of the change brought about by unexpected circumstances, he lacked confidence and felt somewhat out of his depth. In one of the earlier workshops of the Programme he (and the other delegates) was tasked with going back into his business and work on his strategy utilising one of our templates. Due to the pressures of work he decided to involve his team – it was only small – probably 5 or 6 people. The results were amazing! He and the team worked together over a couple of days and he found that they were hungry, very hungry. When he mentioned targets, the team members had bigger expectations than he, and the numbers were increased. They also drew on specific expertise within the business and wanted to create a new service that would enable them to enter a new market … And so the plan was agreed. When I saw him a few months later, after the Mastermind Programme had finished, what he told me was fantastic. Not only had the team delivered the plan – but they had delivered the three-year strategic plan in just one year!
What tools to use?
We’re not here to tell you what tools are best for you to use in developing your thinking and planning, we couldn’t possibly say. The reason is because different people prefer to use different tools and they are many and varied. However, if you’re just starting out in creating your plan, there’s no need to make it too complicated. Why not start with something simple? You could start by asking the following questions:
- Where are you now?
- How did you get here?
- Where do you want to be in 3 years?
- What are the obstacles?
- How are you going to bridge the gap?
- What needs to change?
- What is required (in terms of resources) for you to deliver it?
During the process you may also want to consider developing your:
Vision for the future – this is a statement about the company’s aspirations, for example, IKEA’s vision is:
“At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
And, if you don’t already have them:
Core values. Core values reflect the fundamental beliefs of the business and they guide how it behaves and operates. As an example, here are the core values of Robert Woodhead Ltd.
If you’re thinking of developing your strategy, you can download a copy of our FREE STRATEGY MINDMAP, which will definitely help your thinking. Alternatively, please contact us for a no-obligation informal discussion.
About us – CLC and CLC Academy
Construction Leaders Club (CLC) is an organisation established to help small business owners and other professionals associated with the construction industry to connect, share ideas, information and best practice. Our purpose is to help you and everyone associated with CLC to grow and develop professional networks, and build strong and mutually beneficial relationships. Our core team has more than 100 years’ combined experience working at senior levels in the construction industry, associated sectors, and within the executive education environment. Our industry knowledge is supported by in-depth knowledge of working in business at the top level, as well as our experience, educational backgrounds and subject matter expertise.
CLC Academy, the developmental training arm of CLC, offers a range of professional development programmes. We are all about providing business growth and leadership development training and provide this through a series of ascending mastermind style programmes and private one-on-one coaching. We have a proven, unique and proprietary system called the CLC Growth Accelerator System which embeds business growth knowledge and leadership skills, and gives individuals the tools necessary to further develop themselves and to work on their businesses.
For instance, on our CLC Mastermind Programmes we work with small business owners and directors to give them the confidence to release their entrepreneurial spirit to drive the business to the next level and beyond. But we also see the need for developing tomorrow’s business owners and leaders today. Our Rising Stars programmes are designed to help high potential technical experts develop their general management capabilities and leadership skills, which in turn will help them make the transition into senior management roles more successful. This level of foresight and investment will also help small business owners and directors with their future plans and succession planning.
For more information about what we do and how we may be able to help you, please contact:
Construction Leaders Club
+44 (0) 7736 417 464