We’re into a new year and a new decade and this is always a good time to question where your firm is going and how it will get there. Done correctly, strategic planning is a great way to create a roadmap for your A/E/C firm’s growth trajectory. Done incorrectly, it is a colossal waste of time that only causes frustration and friction!
Based on PSMJ’s 40+ years of experience with thousands of A/E/C firms, here are seven common mistakes that’ll send your strategic plan from the printer directly to the recycle bin:
Think of it as an event rather than a process. People who think of “plan” as a noun tend to write a nice neat document, tuck it into a three-ring binder, and let it gather dust on a bookshelf while they make their day-to-day decisions and react to events with little or no thought to a long-term direction. Think of “plan” as a verb instead—something you do all the time, tending to it at regular intervals—a process that never ends—an ongoing part of your proactive approach to the marketplace and to running your business.
Bring the wrong people. The strategic planning retreat should be run with a small group of firm leaders who actively participate in the meeting—including a cross-section of people from the firm, especially someone representing the young professionals. PSMJ recommends that the planning team be between seven and 15 people.
Save a few bucks by holding the retreat in the company conference room. Seldom can a planning retreat be held effectively in your offices. Too many interruptions, potential distractions, and tardy participants make it impossible.
Use an inside facilitator. Use of an outside facilitator brings an unemotional professional that can keep your team on track, and remove any individual biases that could influence your plan. Be certain that your facilitator knows the design industry, and that you provide an abundance of advanced data about your firm, its markets, its clients, and all previous strategic planning efforts.
Label the plan “FINAL”. Good strategic plans are fluid not rigid. By labeling your plan “DRAFT,” you encourage everyone to participate and to comment on the tactics and activities required to achieve your goals.
Leave without ‘by who, by when’ accountability. The plan is not a strategic plan without specific actions, tactics, deadlines, and assignments given to individuals by name to assure accountability.
Don’t establish regular review meetings. Before leaving your planning retreat, coordinate calendars with all participants for a minimum of four reviews per year. Review meetings should be brief, off-site, with nothing else on the agenda but to review your goals and progress on those goals.
In today’s fast-moving business climate, you need alignment and clarity to get your leadership team moving towards success. You need a plan that has “teeth” and won’t just collect dust on a bookshelf. Whether you are brand new to planning or are ready to turbo-charge your efforts, PSMJ’s approach to strategic and business planning is to provide tools and tips that firms can implement immediately.
Looking for more tips, check out Successful Strategic Planning For A/E/C Firm Leaders.
In this free e-book, you’ll find specific suggestions to help your architecture or engineering think of “planning” as something you do all the time, tending to it at regular intervals—as a process that never ends and an ongoing part of running a successful business.
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