For the past 5-6 years, my company, PFP, has simplified its strategic plan to the point where it can be and is printed on a business card. It is one of the most popular items to hand out and discuss with clients and partners. On one side of the card is our mission statement and brand promise. On the other side of the card is a list of our strategies for the year. These strategies are the result of strategic planning sessions and agreed upon by all of PFP’s top executives. The end result is available to be presented publicly and is presented to every employee of the company along with a personal letter from our President, Mark Sessel.
Our strategic plan this year was unusual since it did not contain a single initiative that was new to our organization. At our strategic planning session, we determined it was necessary to dig deeper to achieve the desired results of our current innovations and bring them to successful fruition.
This is a good thing. And if it happens to your team and organization, embrace it. It does not mean that your team has lost its innovative edge. It is not a sign of “lazy” strategic planning. To the contrary, it is recognition that the arbitrary twelve-month timeframe in between your annual Strategic Planning Sessions does not coincide with the time needed to effectively implement the desired initiatives each year.
Timelines to gain buy-in to get onto the plan are lengthy.
Gaining consensus on the pain the organization is feeling without the innovation, and using the meetings and planning sessions to get the innovation on the list for the year is more complex than originally thought. In order to gain buy-in, one must follow a process (see POST).
Timelines to build the foundation of Innovation are lengthy.
We start with an image and vision of what the innovation looks like and how it will perform when fully implemented. Then reality begins to weave its way into the innovation. There are technical, financial, resource and skill-set realities. The goal is to engage the necessary resources to build the foundation for the implementation of the innovation. The foundation allows the team to develop an efficient process and effective method of operating that can grow with the needs of your company. Building this foundation takes significant time.
Duplication of the innovation and proving success is time consuming.
Just because you launched the innovative idea doesn’t mean it is going to ultimately revolutionize your company. You need to prove your concept and this takes time. Get some results, turn your projections into realities and share the facts. These become the “assumptions” for the future as you attempt to replicate your results while using different variables. As you change the picture and continue to show results, your expectations will change appropriately. While this process keeps the innovation on target to realize its potential, the timeframe to navigate through this step is lengthy.
Bringing the revolution throughout your company is not a quick process.
Until it consistently becomes part of the budgeted operation of your firm, the initiative is in its innovative and strategic stage. Once you have hired people, built an operation, developed efficient processes and created significant momentum you are on your way. Your expenses and revenues can and should be projected. When this happens, the innovation has officially moved from strategic thought to strategic action and lastly to operational day-to-day management.
There is no rule that sets the innovation and implementation process as a 12 month process. As a result, Eye-Cubed organizations must have the intestinal fortitude to keep initiatives on the strategic list for more than one year. Pull the innovation off the list too soon and risk losing momentum and destroying your vision. Get it right and reap the massive rewards.