Start with Looking Inward
While many of us are enjoying the summer, it’s not too early to start thinking about the new year and getting started on developing your plans, strategies and goals for next fiscal year.
If you already are in the midst of a three or five-year plan, you may have your goals set and just need to update for recent environmental changes that have accelerated your plan or those events that have set you back. Some organizations may need to start fresh because your plan doesn’t reflect current customers’ needs or the market environment. Or, the plan may be too dusty to be relevant. Wherever you are in the process, now is a good time to envision where you want your organization to be two or three years from now. Before picking up a pen or hitting a key, take some time to reflect upon your organization’s accomplishments, acknowledge all the hard work that’s been put forth and envision your path towards the future for your organization. Use this time during the lazy days of summer to “just think” while you’re faced with less demands of everyday life.
Consider some of these questions to get you started.
1. If you were starting the organization from scratch now, would its purpose and mission be relevant today?
2. Is it living up to its full potential?
3. Are there new opportunities that should be grasp?
4. Is your corporate strategy acquiring and retaining customers?
5. Do you have the appropriate infrastructure, human resources and financial capital for today’s business needs?
6. Are you prepared for a downturn in the economy or unexpected catastrophe?
Ponder these points before writing down any of your thoughts. Let them marinade in your mind. Make a note to check any available data to ensure your thoughts are affirmed by the facts later.
Put aside your thoughts after a few days and decide if they’re still top of mind items that need to be addressed. If so, then start to validate your beliefs, new ideas or concerns.
When you are back to planning and focused on the upcoming year, start with a self-assessment of your current environment with your team. Your self-assessment should be prepared with input of your staff and your board members, since senior management is likely to be too close to the situation to see all facets of what’s happening.
What’s changed in your industry since your initial plan and goals were set? Define new challenges or threats which have arisen that are impacting your organization? Has your competition impeded your growth? Or, perhaps you have missed an opportunity to bring new products/events/initiatives to market. Did you forego a moneymaking venture intentionally or was it a missed opportunity?
A simple SWOT analysis is a good place to start. SWOT is a scan for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It highlights the things your business is good at and could be better at doing along with the risks you have taken and not pursued. Also take a hard look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) or key financial metrics to confirm that prior plans produced as expected. Remember to consider what you should ‘stop doing’ also!
Once you’re developed the self-assessment, you most likely find you have a list of things that don’t fit in any category. Store these in a ‘to do’ list and prioritize them from 1-3. Number one meaning you should address immediately as part of you planning because they impact your organization in a severe manner (either your mission, time, money, or reputation). Number two items should be addressed but, they are less important. And, number three items can be reviewed at your leisure or dropped because they are less relevant to your mission, time, money or reputation. Perhaps they should be on the “stop doing’ list.
This self-assessment is an initial start for your planning and budgeting processes for the new year. It also gives you reasons to celebrate your accomplishments and to energize yourself and others who will make the plan happen!
Now, go back to reading your beach book. Relax and take advantage of some down time. You’ll need it once you start digging in to developing and executing your plans!