In an ideal workplace, daily deadlines can be assessed in line with an up-to-date strategic plan. Management and staff are all clued into the business’ vision and goals; having a grasp of that bigger picture helps everyone in their decision-making and prioritising. “Is this important?” and “Does this fit with our overall strategic plan?” If the answer is yes, brilliant – get cracking and know the task is not only an end in itself but is also contributing to the business’ long-term goals.
And if the answer is no? The task is probably not as important as it first appeared.
Sadly, most businesses are so busy treading water keeping on top of emails, meetings and deadlines that strategy falls by the wayside. Rich Howarth, CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, has undertaken research that shows 96% of leaders don’t have the time for strategic thinking because they are too busy putting out fires and keeping on top of the everyday.
We often praise the problem-solving and quick decision-making skills of good leaders – essential strengths for the firefighting mentioned above. How can an issue be resolved in as short a time as possible, with minimal impact on workflow and staff morale, at minimal cost? A good leader is also a good thinker – but this is a skill that is often left unused. In an emergency, stopping to think strategically about a problem seems counter-intuitive if there’s a quicker solution at hand.
And it’s not just management who struggle to make time for the strategic headspace – especially in SMEs, staff workload can mean time for lateral thinking is a luxury.
Because of all this, many businesses are working to an out-dated strategic plan, if any plan at all – a plan created for a past iteration of a business. And an out-dated strategy is about as useful as no plan at all. Perhaps your firm has grown since the last time a strategic plan was created? Maybe small tweaks have been made over the years, as the business diversified and moved in new directions; but does it reflect where the business is headed? Can the leadership even articulate what the strategic plan is?
Getting everyone in the same room at the same time is no small feat between conflicting deadlines, part-time staff and holidays. But it’s worth it. Taking the time to sit together and reflect on what’s working and what isn’t, using that feedback to inform how you move forward, could save your business work hours, increase profit and give employees a sense of purpose.
Strategic planning is invaluable and the secret to long-term success in any business. It doesn’t matter how good your team is at managing the day-to-day – without a strategic plan, your business’s future is finite.
If you’re struggling to make the time to prioritise strategic planning and reading this is making you rethink your approach, SBA can help. SBA Legal offers a full range of Legal Process Outsourcing, freeing up you and your staff so you can focus on the big picture. If you need an Australian-based lawyer, our Legal Solutions team can help you.