If you’re one of the many companies whose fiscal year ends December 31, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind. Budgets. Project deadlines. Pushing for your quarterly and annual targets.
Oh yeah, and the holidays.
You’d have to be crazy to want to add more to your to-do list… but what if there were a few tasks that could make your life easier next year? That would jumpstart your strategic planning process and set you up for a more calm, confident, and successful 2018?
Here are 2 impactful things you can do.
1. Start gathering strategic insights.
At many companies, strategic planning starts in mid-to-late spring. And chances are, you’ll wish you had more time to gather research to support your business case. Sure, you could scramble and pull something together at the last minute—but that’s a painful process, and one that doesn’t always yield the best plan.
But now is a perfect time to start researching the priorities that are on your shortlist for next year. What data will you need to validate your thinking and build a home-run strategy? What research will give your organization confidence to go forward in April or May?
Here are some key questions to help you figure out what research to pursue:
- Are you achieving all your goals this year? Do you know exactly how well you are performing against your targets—and why? Could you make course corrections aided by market research and analysis, and build confidence that 2018 will be an even stronger year?
- Thinking about launching a new product or service? Are you confident in your value prop and in the concept you’re developing? Do you have everything you’ll need to make your business case?
- Wondering where to focus going forward? During strategic planning, there are often too many ideas and not enough resources. Wouldn’t it be great to evaluate that list now, prioritize, and give yourself a few months to gain alignment around the initiatives that are truly the best?
2. Start implementing your 2018 strategy.
By now, your 2018 budget is probably set. Want to see results by the end of 2018? Don’t wait till January to start implementing—do it now.
Things take time to implement. If you don’t get that process going until the start of next year, you won’t start executing until April—and that’s if you’re fast. In fact, you might be halfway through the year before you start to see business results, and you won’t know if you’ll meet your targets until the 3rd or 4th quarter.
Start now by implementing…
- Ownership of strategic initiatives. Assign teams now with the right skills and bandwidth to own success of your strategic initiatives.
- Goals, milestones & metrics. Define monthly what success means for each of your initiatives—and how you’ll measure it throughout the year.
- Organizational strategy alignment. Every function has its own specific goals. However, most strategies are cross-functional, and mis-aligned priorities are one of the top causes of missed deadlines. Rally cross-functional teams around these strategic goals and metrics.
Are you thinking “Yes. But can’t this wait?” Just consider Jack Welch‘s storied advice about competitive advantage:
“We have only two sources of competitive advantage: the ability to learn more about our customers faster than the competition, and the ability to turn that learning into action faster than the competition.”