Do your eyes glaze over when someone says “Strategic Development “? Just what does it mean, in terms the average entrepreneur can understand? Speaking as a SD Consultant, simply put, it means “Big Picture Thinking”, visualizing the future as you would like it to happen, and then making it happen the way you want it to.
SD is much like plotting a ship’s course for a long voyage. The variables of weather, currents, sea creatures, and potential pirates and wars make the planning difficult, at best. It is very helpful to have a chart with the routes, rocks and passages clearly marked by a previous traveler. That is what Strategic Planning is, the Chart that can potentially keep your “Ship of Commerce” off the rocks!
Of course, events never happen exactly the way we hope. A strategic plan is a dynamic thing which begins falling apart immediately, even before it is completed. And, of course, a plan is never completed. There are always many factors pulling and pushing, competing to “make it or break it”, which is why we have contingency plans, pivots, long and short term objectives and priorities.
Here are the Four Phases of Strategic Development (SD):
1). Strategic Analysis- taking a ‘snapshot’ of the Enterprise as it is, utilizing the best thinking of all stakeholders: partners, customers, employees and consultants. What kind of ship do we have? What are the collective resources with which we have to work? Is it a “Blue Water” boat or one built for coastal sailing?
2). Strategic Planning- brainstorming (again, utilizing the best thinking of all stakeholders) and deciding where the Enterprise wants to go, what it wants to achieve; the business model, how to monetize the plan; exit strategy, retirement and succession planning. What kind of ship do we need and what experience does the crew bring to the table? Will we be a Marco Polo or a coastal trader? Do we need a new boat or, perhaps, a ship?
3). Executive Development- developing the personnel, or crew, with new and improved skill sets, such as: leadership, personal motivation, supervision, time management, sales and sales management.
Captains are made, not born. Every member of the crew is a potential Captain and should be treated and developed as such. A “Company of Leaders” is the new paradigm.
4). Results Management- an on-going process of implementation, assessing progress and making course corrections. Regular position readings are taken; continuous crew training and development; continuous brainstorming, planning, and problem-solving. This on-going process frequently develops into a Strategic Partnership between the Consultant and the Client Enterprise. As Strategic Development Consultants, our goal is to develop that Strategic Partnership and become the Client’s “Most Trusted Advisor (MTA)”.