In Leaders, Strategy, Vision

“Strategic planning is worthless – unless there is first a strategic vision.” – John Naisbitt

Last week in this space the conversation was around the idea that at some point everybody has to stop “hunkering down” and start thinking about the future.  That means vision, strategy, all that good stuff.  Based on some responses I received, it sounds like a lot of you agree.

However, a lot of you also feel like creating & refining a vision is extremely difficult.  I would agree.  The only thing harder than figuring out today is figuring out tomorrow.  Given the current rate of change, the idea of creating some kind of coherent vision can feel overwhelming.

So break it into pieces.  Instead of thinking about a massive, all-encompassing picture, start by thinking about parts.  Start with the money (everybody’s favorite).  What are your growth & profit targets for the next 5 years?  Everybody says they want to grow – how much?

Think about the marketplace you operate in.  What will your ideal customer look like in five years?  How will you convince them to do business with you?  Who will your competitors be?  What will they do that’s going to tough to beat?  Where do they have gaps that you can exploit?

What are you actually going to do for those customers?  Think that ideal customer I just asked you about.  What will they need from you?  Every business on earth exists to fill needs.  What needs will you be filling?

Just as important, what won’t you do for those customers?  Most businesses follow the same pattern.  You start a business, and you offer some kind of product or service.  Then you see an opportunity, so you offer another product or service.  Then your competitors do something, so as a defensive measure, you offer another product or service.  All that time you keep adding more and more products and services.  Very rarely do we stop offering a product or service.  Are there some we could get rid of?

There are plenty of other pieces to a vision, but those three are a good place to start.  Just remember that it’s impossible to plan for your business, or develop any kind of strategy, without a clear vision.  It would be like trying to pack for a trip without knowing where you’re going.

Begin at the beginning.  Work on the vision for your business first.  Once that’s clear, then you can figure out how you’re actually get there.  Good luck.

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