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How to Get Your Strategic Plan & Business Plan on One Page

Sep 16, 2008
Having written many Strategic/Business Plans for clients over the years, I was often amazed to see how quickly the plan was filed away to collect dust in "business plan heaven" despite the time, cost and effort in preparing them.

In my constant search for the best resources, I discovered the wonderful website of Verne Harnish.. Verne is referred to as the "Growth Guy" and only coaches medium businesses in the States that achieve four years consecutive 20% + growth - they are called "Gazelles". This guy researched and created the "One Page Strategic Plan" and it is brilliant in its simplicity, theory and contents.

The document itself. It is importantly one page which limits space and forces you to be concise, focused and specify key goals and priorities.

SWOT Analysis. Nothing new here except the need to really specify your Top 5 strengths, weaknesses, most profitable opportunities in the short term and most dangerous threats facing you.

Core Values & Beliefs. How do you conduct your business? What makes up your unique culture? When your values are clear, it's easier to make decisions.

What's Your Purpose? Why are you doing what you are doing? What is the reason you're in your business?

Actions. What specific actions do you need to take in the future to best allow you to achieve and fulfill your purpose and your core values & beliefs?

Targets. Where do you want your business to be in 3-5 years in terms of revenues, profitability and market value?

Key Thrusts & Capabilities. What Top 5 specific actions must you and your business take as priorities and in measurable terms to meet or exceed your 3-5 year targets.

What is your brand promise? What specific need do you satisfy for your customers and how do you do it better than your competitors? What is your value-add proposition and what differentiates you in your market? Be honest and commercially minded here.

Annual & Quarterly Targets. The balance of the plan uses this above approach to then drill down into your annual and quarterly financial targets and priorities. Depending on the size and complexity of your business, you may choose to update your plan quarterly or annually at a minimum.

Your 5 Most Important Priorities is the Heart of the plan. The most important aspect of the One Page Plan is deciding upon your 5 most important priorities to work on for the next quarter/year. There can be no more than 5 so that you are highly focused on getting them implemented. There should be a key person accountable and deadlines set. If you do these, you are working on the most important things in your business. Now that's impressive.

People. Your team must know what your 5 most important priorities are. They can be given no more than 3 key priorities upon which their performance is assessed. These must be aligned with the business' top 5 priorities. You now should have also solved your performance, appraisal and retention system as your people are being permanently supported and assessed on working on the business' and their individual key priorities all the time. This alignment and engagement of goals, management and team is incredibly powerful.

Smart Numbers and Critical Numbers. Determine what ratios or measurements unique to your business provide insight to future performance that align with your core values and financial targets. What are the 1 or 2 meaningful, quantifiable and crucial indicators for success in your business?

Themes, Scoreboards & Celebrations. Try and come up with a theme for the year that will get into the team psyche and gain their commitment to your vision and priorities. Develop a unique, creative and appealing way to broadcast key numbers and other performance measurements to the team - your business scoreboard. Even come up with a memorable team celebration that can be enjoyed if you hit your targets and your theme works.

But does this work and why?

Simplicity and alignment.

The simplicity lies in it being a living One-Page document that can easily be updated periodically. I use enlarged A3 size for my clients. Clients and their teams can put it up on work desk walls for everyone to be constantly reminded of key priorities. Some confidential or sensitive data may be removed in circulating across the firm if needed.

The matrix layout of the plan ensures that there is alignment from left to right of core values right through to key quarterly priorities. The ability to align overall top 5 business priorities with each team member's top 3 priorities creates a powerful synergy that can work for you.

In my opinion, this is a much more practical and strategic way to undertake planning that ensures it stays alive in your business. There are still valid reasons why traditional long versions of strategic and business plans are prepared for use by bankers, financiers, investors etc. However, for management purposes I believe you simply can't go past this approach to your planning.

Darren Bourke, Business Influence, 2008. You are welcome to "reprint" this article online as long as it remains complete (including the "about the author" information at the end).
About the Author
Darren Bourke is a Consultant, Business Coach & Mentor who helps small & medium businesses struggling to maximize profitability, productivity, people and performance. His Free Report titled What Successful Owners of Growth Businesses Do That You Don't, newsletter and updates are full of strategies and tips to make your business boom. Sign up now at http://www.businessinfluence.com.au
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