In 1980, Fortune
published a list of the top 100 American public corporations based on revenues. By 2001, 26% of these companies were no longer on the list. Some were no longer even in business. The question is, did these companies plan to fail or simply fail to plan?
If you asked their key executives, they would likely tell you that the companies struggled with strategic planning – the critical process of defining clear organizational goals and developing strategies to reach them. A strategic plan gives a company its direction, helping its leaders navigate the often-treacherous waters of today’s ever-changing marketplace.
Does Your Business Plan to Succeed?
There’s a big difference between planning and planning to succeed. If you’re unsure of the difference, ask yourself the following questions: Do the leaders of your company have a meaningful strategic plan? Is that plan understood and endorsed by your executives? By your employees? Do your employees even believe what their leaders are telling them?
According to a 2005 Harris poll, only 37% of American workers believe that “top management displays integrity and morality.” Many other studies point to a major disconnect between CEOs’ and employees’ beliefs.
These studies demonstrate what you may already know in your gut: corporate malfeasance is not the sole reason companies fail. Most businesses fail because their leaders fail to adequately prepare the company to deal with change. It is critical to see past day-to-day pressures and plan for the long term. But even if you develop a sound strategic plan, it won’t lead to success unless your employees understand and support it.
The Three Criteria of a Meaningful Strategic Plan
Given the rapid pace of change in business and the disturbing disconnect between employer and employee beliefs, how do you create a strategic plan that will ensure your company’s continued success? You have to make your plans meaningful – to everyone in your company – by doing the following:
Treat your strategic plan as a living entity.
Make sure everyone understands and buys into your strategic plan.
Consistently implement and execute your plan.