Strategic Planning: Remembering who you are and where you’re going

by Halisi

“If you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.” That’s from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

I just facilitated a strategic planning session for an organization that’s been in existence for about 12 years.  This was the first time they had gathered the leaders for a planning session of this type.  And it was long overdue.

When companies and organizations start up – if they offer excellent service or products – the newness helps them grow.  However, after they’ve been in existence for a while it’s easy to get the attitude of “I got this”.  Nothing could ever be further from the truth.  In order for companies and organizations to continue to grow they must continue to renew themselves.  I hesitate to say reinvent, because often times you don’t necessarily need to change your core competencies.  What is often necessary is to make sure you are keeping the skills sharpened and throwing the necessary resources behind what it is that makes your product or service stand out.

Mediocrity is simply not acceptable and complacency will kill you.  Companies and organizations have to be deliberate about delivering on the promises of their tag lines.  Those tag lines and vision statements that you paid someone to come up with are not just fodder – they are a promise and your patrons expect you to live up to them.  So have you put all of the pieces in place to do that?  Are you continually listening to your patrons to make sure you are still meeting their need?

For example, TGIF Fridays tag line use to be everyday should be a Friday – or something close to that.  To me that means that every time I come in the restaurant I’m going to be greeted by someone who has a party mood.   I’m going to expect the atmosphere to be like a party and I’m going to expect them to have “party food” on the menu.  Fridays are the beginning of the weekend and time to relax, so the atmosphere should be relaxed.  I could go on and on, but you get the point.  If they fail to deliver on any of the expectations they will loose customers.  Accordingly, all departments of the business should have in mind that their job is to help the restaurants deliver on that promise – and all that it entails.

Very quickly do a value chain for your business or organization.  Identify what activities in that value chain that you have to be best in the world.   For TGIF two of those activities might be customer service and marketing innovation.  Why?  Because it at least takes those two to deliver on the Friday promise atmosphere.  i.e. outstanding service and fun food.  So align your resources around the activities that will set you apart and help you deliver on your promise.  You still must be great at the other things, but you must be best in the world at those things that you want to be ‘known for’.


  • Know who you are and what you’re trying to achieve
  • Be deliberate about aligning all aspects of the business toward those goals
  • Make sure you are putting your resources towards activities that will set  you apart and help deliver on your value proposition

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