Four more years

New All Black’s coach, Steve Hansen, has one overarching goal: to retain the RWC.  And he knows that winning will come down to preparation and planning. If you’re looking to map out similar success for your business in 2015 and beyond, then here are ten ideas to help lead you to victory.

1.   Scoring own goals

What are your personal (non business) goals? These should be discussed and defined before embarking on the business aspects of the process. There is little use creating a business direction that, in hindsight, fails to support what truly matters in your non-work life.

2. The higher authority

Assume your efforts have resulted in a beautifully crafted plan. Now, who’s going hold you accountable for its achievement? Yourself? Maybe, but it takes a remarkable person to remain true to the course when the going gets rough. Firm up your coaches and independent advisers in advance of the planning. Better still: have them on the planning team.

3.   Use your bench

Diversity in backgrounds, age, experience and ideas are key attributes in a successful planning team. Remember that two people with the same ideas are effectively one person. A balanced mix of internal and external participants will lead to a higher quality outcome than a team of one. Note that seniority is not necessarily a trait that equates to superior strategic contribution.

4.   Neutral umpires

A strategic planning programme led by an external facilitator, rather than yourself, will be more effective. Ideas from all participants tend to flow more freely and the outsourcing of the facilitation ensures that operational pressures are less likely to disrupt the quality of the sessions or overall timeframes.

 5.   Different game plan

Strategy, by its nature, means to change. “More of the same”is not strategic. Ensure there is a commitment from all parties, especially yourself, to change, stretch and evolve before any planning initiatives are undertaken.

 6.   Stretching and warm ups

Group sessions and off site strategy days are important however it’s the depth of reflection and analysis undertaken prior to these sessions that will help guarantee success. Use thinksheets to collate and aggregate ideas in advance. This leads to a better use of face to face time to discuss and evolve ideas rather than brainstorm from scratch.

7.   Focus on your own game

Your strategic challenge is to meet unmet customer needs. However identifying these can be really difficult especially when customers themselves struggle to articulate their own needs! Beware of creating brand or product homogeneity. Be unique and resist the temptation to simply mirror your competitors.

 8.   The power of Why

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.  Start your planning with the why and then move on to the what, who and how.  There’s a great Simon Sinek video that is useful for this: see

9.   Get the team onside

Not all your employees will be able to be part of the process (but they should have at least one representative). So communicate before, during and after the planning to aid buy in. When sharing the strategy, get staff involved in implementation ideas at that time.  Consider setting them the challenge of defining an audacious company goal.  Assign individual actions and let staff know how this will contribute to the overall success.

10. High vis-ulisation

Condense the written output in to a colourful one page visual. Then laminate copies and share with your entire team. We’ve all heard the anecdotes about the best written plans gathering dust in the bottom drawer!

This article, written by Simon Telfer, will be published in March’s edition of NZ Business.
This entry was posted in Privately Owned Businesses, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Four more years

  1. Mike Johnston says:

    A perfectly timed reminder for the outset of the new year Simon. Not only for businesses, where so many of us are just getting back into “busi-ness” when we should being doing this as priority number one, but also in our personal lives (especially when looking at or faced with a new direction!) – where are we heading towards?

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