There are many approaches to do the annual strategic plan for a business. They range from reviewing the prior year’s plan and updating it with the latest market intelligence to a full blown evaluation of the company’s positioning and crafting a transformative plan. The final product always includes a few high level statements which describe the strategic goals. How meaningful are these strategic goals?
For instance, a strategic goal for a waste management company is to improve the cost effectiveness of operations. Cost effectiveness is broad and it implies many things. If you were to ask the executives what could be done to deliver this goal, you probably get different responses. There are so many ways to achieve this goal. Some of the options are:
• Optimization of the waste collection route to minimize fuel, labour, wear and tear of vehicles.
• Enhancement in the handling of the collected wastes to save time from sorting into recyclables and unusable waste.
• Use of advanced equipment for waste collection for speed and less human handling.
Each option requires different focus and investment. For each option, there are also different ways to improve cost effectiveness. However, the success of each option hinges on whether it supports the intended result.
Getting to specific results from vague strategic goals takes effort. You need to deconstruct the goal and examine closely the specific results you aim for. When you are able to pin point clearly the result, you can decisively and confidently select the actions that are most appropriate.
For the first option above, the specific result could be ‘reduction in time to complete waste collection.’ It could be ‘waste sorting time’ for the second option. For the third option, the result could be ‘collection time per location.’ Using the specific result to set the criteria to screen initiatives makes it easier because there is less chance of misinterpretation.
In order to establish the specific results for your strategic goals, the key question to ask is what success looks like. To do a good job, steer clear from nebulous words and be as specific as possible so that everyone would be clear on what that goal is about. It might be helpful to refer back to your notes from the planning sessions to identify why the goal is important and that the company wants to focus on it.
Specificity helps to clarify choice of action and guides decision-making. You have a lesser chance of embarking on way too many initiatives, especially the ones that won’t make much impact to the ultimate result. Take a look at your strategic goals; see if you could clearly identify specific, measureable results for them.