What the… is your business about? Demystifying strategic planning

engage consulting group
September 12, 2019

You meet a new person and they ask you 'what do you do', or 'what business are you in'? And then a plethora of words roll out disjointed and verbose demonstrating a vague generic set of things, you just want someone to save you but it is too late you are lost and so are they.

You may be one of the lucky ones who has a clear articulate concise business plan down pat – that’s great! However, if you’re like most of us and want to get more clarity about why your business, division or team exits, let’s get focused.

In our last Blog we shared with you the continuum of planning from doing nothing to planning everything that moves. Our engagePlanning process is designed to get the best out of business planning practices and then adapt it for your world.

engagePlanning enables businesses to stop, reflect, analyse and plan their future.

In this article, we are going to explore the Core Focus section of our engagePlanning approach, as shown in the engagePlanning diagram below.

The Core Focus

The first part of the engagePlanning process involves understanding your core focus - the why, what and how of the business. Having laser focus on where you’re going and why you exist is essential for success. Here are 3 steps to help you practically apply strategic thinking and develop key elements in your own strategic plan:

Step 1. Articulate the 'Why'

In this life we have many options available to us in terms of who we want to be and what we can do and achieve. Be conscious and mindful about whom you choose to be and do what you do. We need more mindful considered leaders. We need Leaders who can create a vision of a better future. We need to have a purpose that motivates us to get out of bed and dedicate our lives to.  Extraordinary lives are those where people are fully present and committed to their purpose, play to their strengths and are cognizant of the impact of their actions.

One successful social enterprise, Thankyou, that we support has an IMPACT scorecard in the middle of their office. The IMPACT scorecard measures every single life they have improved. Thankyou’s why is very clear - to eradicate poverty.

When we reflected on our own why – why does engage consulting group exist, what is our purpose, we had a lot of robust conversations. Our vision is to ‘be the company people come to for inspiration and innovation’ and our purpose is to ‘help people and businesses be all they can be’. We love seeing people and businesses grow to reach their full potential in a sustainable way.

Ask yourself the following questions to help uncover your 'Why', your purpose:

  • Why does your business/division/team exist?
  • Why this business?
  • What impact will you make in the world?
  • What legacy do you want to create?
  • What is your purpose?

Keep asking yourself these questions until you get to the core essence of your business.  Less is more, no one wants to hear or read a long wordy vision.

Use less words. Use images. Create your own language if you need to.

Use your head, heart and gut in creating your why and when you get to the core, you will know it. It will just flow and you will be able to share it with ease.

Step 2. Articulate the What

Once you have a clear Vision and Purpose articulating the ‘What’ becomes easier. The ‘What’ can be described in a mission and is a description of your core business. What product/service will you actually create, what does value look like?

Our business has evolved considerably over the last 18 years. We started out as an online survey company then pivoted to become a management consulting company. We dabbled in the financial planning industry and had a very successful IT professional services business. Now we are a strategic advisory company. The core value that we create is knowledge and growth.

Ask yourself the following questions to help uncover your ‘What – Core’ business:

  • What do you create?
  • What value do you deliver?
  • What outputs and outcomes do you create?
  • What do you need to do to ensure your vision comes to fruition?
  • What are your goals?

Keep asking yourself these questions until you get to 3 very clear products/services that you can deliver. Why 3? Well it’s a magic number – everyone can remember 3 things.

Step 3:  Articulate the How

Once you know the why and what of your business/division/team it’s easier to articulate the How. Consider the following questions to help you uncover your 'How':

  • What culture do you want?
  • How do you want to behave – what behaviours are important to you?
  • What experience do you want your people, customers, suppliers and stakeholders to have when working with you?
  • What is most important in how we work in this team?
  • How does it feel to work in your business/division/team?
  • What do you care about?

How you behave can be reflected in the business/division/team values. Values are set of rules and are reinforced by a complimentary set of behaviours.

Values need to support the effective implementation of the Vision and Goals.

Our values are LIFT – Learning, Innovation, Fun and Trust. These are core to how we work with all our stakeholders. They enable us to deliver on our Vision and Purpose.  

So going back to our opening question… What do you do?  

To help you create your own strategic plan, clarify and articulate your Core Focus.  See what you come up with. And remember less is more.

In our next blog, we will explore the practical application of engagePlanning’s ‘Analysis & Review’. This process helps you to first understand the competitive environment and then provides a framework that helps you identify the best options for success.

Contact us if you would like any feedback or support with articulating your Core Focus.

Be all you can be!

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