No matter whether you are an electrician operating a one-woman business in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert or a Chief Engineer of the largest car company in the world – you need to have a strategic plan to operate to, so that you can continue to operate successfully as a business. Most people don’t really know what a strategic plan really is.
But these strategic plans are hugely helpful in keeping your enterprise on target in achieving great things.
Not even close to a Strategic Plan
As Graham Kenny in the Harvard Business Review remarked recently (‘Your Strategic Plans Probably Aren’t Strategic, or Even Plans’), most senior level managers often have no idea what a strategic plan really is. Typically examples thrown around for strategic plans include: achieve $50m turnover by next year/communicate better with stakeholders/donate 10% of profits to charity/launch a new engineering support service…and so forth. None of these are strategic plans.
Most people get confused between an objective (what you ‘aim to achieve’), action (‘what do you want to do’) and strategy.
What is a strategic Plan ?
A strategic plan is simply a way of looking to the future describing what your firm’s goals are, why you exist and (most importantly !) your actions needed to get to these goals by harnessing your unique structure and points of difference. This should then be communicated to all stakeholders (including your customers) so that you can all pull together in executing this strategic plan.
Theoretically, a strategic plan should also contain details of your vision, mission, goals and values. However, I believe that most of these long drawn out descriptions are often never read; let alone acted upon. Ensure that your strategic plan is not another example of ‘me too’ – a turgid summary of something which has no significance and that will not create a flicker of interest or support from anyone else.
A Neat Strategic Plan always focuses on ‘your uniqueness’
I realize sadly that there is nothing new under the sun unfortunately. However, we all are unique in our various ways.
Try and always be innovative in drawing up a strategic plan – what makes you unique and what are your unique selling points ? Why do you exist as an organization ? Do you communicate this to your clients and staff on a regular winning basis ?
Finally, always remember that strategic plans are a work in progress. You never arrive and this plan needs constant adjustment and consultation with others to ensure it stays relevant and useful.
Peter Drucker – the venerable management thinker – made a really good point (something I have to remind myself on a daily basis to avoid) : ‘People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete - the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.’
Yours in engineering learning
Mackay’s Musings – 10th April’18 #671