This time of year is traditionally marked by three key phenomena - holiday cheer, overeating, and strategic business planning. Well, maybe that is an odd coupling of seasonal offerings, but many organizations conduct their annual planning around this time of year. If you and your organization are knee deep in gift wrap and strategic planning, as our gift to you – we present the A, B, C’s of better strategic business planning…and since you are on Santa’s “nice list” this year, we’ll throw in a D and an E for good measure!

Assess – the first step in the planning process is to assess the previous year (or more!). Assess what you and your team accomplished in the past year. What key measures did you set out to improve? Are these still the key metrics for your business? What activities were planned? Which ones were actually executed as planned? Which ones were not – and why? Conducting a very high level assessment of the past year is a critical step to setting your foundation for the year ahead.

Back to the Basics – I know, it sounds cliché, but it works. What is your Vision Statement? Your Mission Statement? What are your organization’s Values? After assessing the successes and opportunities from the previous year, a reminder of “what we’re on this planet to accomplish” is an important step in establishing some guide posts and guardrails for what’s to come.

Collaborate – The best strategic business plans are not done in a vacuum. They are the work of many people – collaboratively. That doesn’t have to mean “compromising” – but getting the team’s perspective on the activities, measures, and goals is a key component to gaining buy-in to the plan. The old saying goes “2 heads are better than 1” – and in the strategic business planning process it is “the more the merrier” to be sure. Additionally, you’ll learn how others on the team are thinking about the year ahead and to potential challenges the team will face.

Do! – Since it is the holidays, we added two more steps to our sequence. At the end of the day – it’s all about the “Do!” You and your team must execute against the back to the basics plan you’ve collaboratively created. Let’s be clear, stop saying “we try to do that” - with all things Star Wars beginning to overtake our senses, the media, and the galaxy this holiday season – I’ll refer to the immortal words of Yoda for this step; “Do or Do Not…There is no Try.” Regular pulse checks to be sure you’re staying on target are important too.

Evaluate – The final lagniappe for you in this holiday business planning blog is the E – which here in Memphis often stands for Elvis, who Takes Care of Business (planning) in a Flash! – But for our strategic business planning model stands for evaluate. On a monthly or quarterly basis, evaluate your plan, your metrics, and your activities. Take stock in what is going right, what needs tweaking, and what new obstacles have surfaced since you started your planning process. Regular evaluation will melt into the assessment phase in the coming year.

So, there you have it – the A, B, C, D, and E’s of strategic business planning made easy. Now, please pass the cranberry sauce and black forest cake….

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