Strategy Report Card – Better Next Year

Big Red Car here in rainy and flooding Austin By God Texas. The flooding situation is getting very serious in the Hill Country to the west of Austin. Lake Travis – an enormous body of water, 30 square miles in surface area – is full to overflowing. It is at the sixth deepest depth of water since it was inundated in 1942.

Image result for images hill country flooding 2018

Floodwaters topping Max Starcke Dam on the Colorado River by Marble Falls and upstream from Lake Travis. Lake Travis is a flood control dam — thank you, Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn.

So, today we talk about planning your strategy for CY 2019.

But, first, we have to take stock of how the strategy fared in 2018. Now is the time to begin that reflection.

Here is a guideline to begin the process.

First, go back and read the strategic plan for last year.

How did we do last year?

Before you begin your strategic plan for next year, you need to take stock of how you did last year. Here are some good questions to ask yourself. Now, we are focusing on data. 

 1. Did we have a written strategic plan for last year?

 2. Did we disseminate, communicate the strategic plan? How many times and in what venues? Was it effective?

 3. How many times did we update the strategic plan during the calendar year? [This is a trick question because a strategic plan is supposed to be looking over the horizon and it may not be advisable to update it during the year.]

 4. What percentage of strategic objectives were actually accomplished?

 5. How many strategic objectives are still in process and will be accomplished in the future?

 6. How many strategic objectives were not accomplished and should have been?

 7. How many strategic objectives were abandoned for good reason?

At this point, you should have a pretty good report on actual performance. Now, go back and explain the “why” of each of these results.

What’s changed during the year?

Sometimes, the business climate, the industry outlook, the competition, or some variable force beyond you control has had an impact –  good or bad – on the strategic plan and its execution. Identify these changes as dispassionately as possible. Now, we are focusing on what environmental conditions changed.

 1. What changed in the business climate? What did we plan for and what actually happened?

 2. What changed in the industry? What did we plan for and what actually happened?

 3. What changed with the competition? Do we have more or less than we planned for? Have there been consolidations? Has there been an impact on pricing?

 4. Has there been a “meteor strikes North America” impact like a war or a huge realignment in some aspect of the business which was not foreseen?

How did we do?

Take a look at the qualitative aspects of your actual results.

 1.  Are we on plan financially?

 2. Are we where we thought we would be on burn rate, cash-in-the-bank, and product? [It doesn’t do any good to be on plan financially if product is in the ditch.]

 3. How does our head count look versus what we thought?

 4. What part of the company is leading the performance?

 5. What part of the company is holding performance back?

 6. Who are the MVPs in each area? Who are the culprits in each area? <<< This requires you to take action.

 7. What was the quality of the leadership and management of each discipline within the company? [Tie this into your performance appraisal system. They should correlate.]

 8. What does the board of directors think of performance? [This could be validation of your assessment or it could challenge it. Deal with whatever it is.]

 9. What did you do poorly that you could have done better?

 10. What did you do poorly that you could have done better, but you didn’t have the resources – money, time, people?

 11. What would you do better right now, but you did poorly when you did it?

Quick hitters

Without moving onto the next phase of strategic planning, identify the top three things you wish you had done. I call this the Big Regret List.

Write this stuff out, put it away for a couple of days to marinate, come back to it. Revise and edit it. Now, you are ready to begin.

OK, now, dear founder/CEO, you are ready to begin work on your strategic plan for 2019 and beyond. Only now, when you have weighed and measured the results.

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

The Big Red Car used to do just this every time he made a strategic plan. Sometimes, it was done in an abbreviated fashion. When the companies were larger – 500 employees +/- – many times I did not share the plan beyond the top line leaders and the board. I had my reasons and would likely do it the same given those same circumstances. Today, I preach wider dissemination. You decide.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red. Stop praying for rain, Hill Country.