When people unite behind a clear vision and strategy, amazing things often happen. Emirates team New Zealand winning the America’s Cup in 2017 over defender, Oracle team USA is one example. The global success of Xero, driven by its vision of ‘beautiful accounting software’, is another. But too often, in our line of work we see a gap between the vision and strategy set by the owners, directors or trustees, and what the business actually does.
When the vision isn’t reflected in what happens ‘on the ground’, it’s enormously frustrating for business owners, directors and trustees. They don’t understand why people in the business just don’t seem to ‘get’ the vision they laboured so long and hard to create. It is just as frustrating for people in the business too. They’re working hard, doing what they think is right for the business – but somehow it doesn’t seem to meet the expectations of the owners or the board. So what’s behind that gap between the vision and strategy - and the way they are interpreted and executed?
Communication breakdown - In our experience, one of the fundamental issues is around the clarity of the vision, and the way it’s expressed. In order to achieve the owners and board’s vision, the team firstly need to understand what it means for the business, and how success will be measured. More importantly, they need to know exactly what it means for them - and how they will be measured.
It sounds simple, but it’s not - and that’s the cause of much of the frustration.
Often, owners, directors and trustees have broad conceptual goals, based on a desire to leave the business in a better position after they are succeeded. For example, they may want to be ‘the leader in their market’ or ‘the pre-eminent provider of widgets to New Zealanders.’ While those are worthy goals, they’re also relatively ‘loose’ and are open to interpretation or misinterpretation as the case may be. The more stakeholders you have, the more interpretations there are likely to be.
We often see business plans being driven by budgets rather than strategy. And when that happens, unintended consequences can result.
Business Planning should always start with a clear understanding of the purpose of the business, how that purpose will be achieved, and how it will be measured. A budget and detailed action plan is then developed based on the resources needed to carry out the agreed strategy – not the other way around.
Business planning is not a simple process. In our experience having a structured planning framework and a coach to work alongside you is the key to business success.
Having a clear vision and strategy along with a smart well prepared business plan in place for 2018 will ensure that you keep focused and stay on track when it comes to business growth and success.