Why Is Strategic Planning Important?
Written by Kevin Martlage
It was the great New York Yankee Yogi Berra that once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” That quote is so incredibly relevant especially when you think about the future of your tree care company and your organization. Sure, you may run a successful business that is taking the tree care industry by storm but is your current path sustainable, is it profitable, and most importantly are you achieving all that you can? Do you have a clear goal in place for the next 3-5 years or even next year as you continue to build your company and your team? If not, you will certainly end up someplace, however is that place where you ultimately want to be?
The myth about strategic planning is that it is considered by some to be an arduous task that takes a lot of time and energy to develop a plan to achieve something you were already on the path to achieving. While strategic planning does take some time and energy, if done intentionally and correctly, it will help you define the proper path for your organization that will lead you to new heights and ultimately the personal and professional goals of you as the owner, your team, and the organization.
Strategic planning involves the organization taking a close look at several different areas to develop a plan for the next 3-5 years. A plan that will help identify key milestones, deliverables, resources, and opportunities to achieve both short term and long-term goals for the organization. There are many ways to complete a strategic plan as the basic concept has been around for hundreds of years. However, if you approach the development of your strategic plan with an infinite and long terms mindset it can help you clearly identify a path for your organization that will determine what else may be possible.
When I lead organizations through the strategic planning process we typically focus on 5 keys steps:
- Confirm the Why
- Review performance and current state
- Identify what is possible
- Determine how we get there
- Implement and monitor
The most effective way to start your strategic planning process is to determine, or validate, the “why” of your organization. Why are you in existence? Why do you have a tree care company? Why do you do what you do? Without a good understanding of your “Why” you will be creating a plan that is not in alignment with your organizations core values, mission, and purpose. The “Why” is considered the lifeblood of any organization and without it you will ultimately just end up someplace else.
After determining or validating your “why” you then need to look at what got you to where you are today. This is completed by taking a deep dive into your current organizational performance and the past 1-3 years. This not only provides you the opportunity to look critically at your organization, but also provides insight into success stories, enhancement opportunities and ideas as to what else may be possible. Typically, this is the most enlightening part of the process as it encourages those working to create the plan the opportunity to step back, take a deep breath and look at the specifics of their organization from a different perspective than the day-to-day work.
Now comes the fun part of the strategic planning process, the ideation and determination of what’s next? Where do you want to go as an organization? Do you want to maintain the path you are currently on, tweak it a bit to head toward other opportunities, or is it finally time to make some adjustments that will successfully set us up for long-term sustainable growth? Without a clear path you will end up someplace, but maybe not where you want to be. Walking through the determination of where you want to go and what you want to do over the next 3-5 years is a process that can take on a lot of different forms. The key to this is that whatever is determined or identified as a viable long-term goal, it must align with the “Why” of the organization. Without that alignment, you will once again be heading down a path to somewhere else.
After key long term goals of the organization have been identified, it is now time to ensure that an effective operational and business plan is created to support the goals that have been determined. Too often, I have worked with organizations that have created a great plan, however it sits on the shelf and never gets looked at or used. Just as important as the plan are the steps you will take to achieve that plan and the commitment to keeping the plan alive. To develop those steps, you once again must look critically at your organization to determine the following regarding your goals:
- Do we have the resources necessary?
- Do we have the knowledge necessary?
- What are some potential roadblocks that we need to proactively identify?
- What are some outside resources we may need to engage?
Based on your gap analysis between the current organization and the future goals, specific next steps will need to be determined to ensure that the goals can be achieved. Implementation of your plan, then becomes the next step to ensuring that you continue towards the place you want to be.
Ensuring that a solid operational and financial plan is in place, will help your organization continue to have the support and ability to achieve the plan, but only if the entire organization is committed to and aware of the plan. Communication is key in this phase of strategic planning. The entire team must be aware of the plan that was created to ensure that everyone is driving to the same place on the map. It is up to the leadership of the organization to ensure that a clear understanding of the plan is in place and that everyone on the team is aware of how they impact the plan daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.
Strategic planning is extremely important for any organization regardless of how small or large you may be. For those larger tree care companies, strategic planning will help ensure you are continuing to be sustainable and maintain relevance to the industry and your clients. For the smaller to medium size companies, strategic planning will also provide you those things, but it can help take you to new sustainable heights as you take your organization to the next level. In either scenario, a good strategic plan is important to not only your organization and your team, but ultimately the overall tree care industry.
To learn more about how strategic planning can enhance your organization, I encourage you to look at our Thrive Risk Management Strategic Planning package. In just 4 short weeks we can help you identify who you are as a company, what you want to become, and what strategic milestones will be needed to achieve your goals.