By Jay W. Vogt
Fast growth companies are all about focus. They have to be. It’s the difference between driving 120 miles per hour and 60 miles per hour. You don’t have the same margin for error, and even small choices matter.
My fast-growth company clients benefit from a focus strategy that is simple yet powerful: the one-page strategic plan. We start with the editable version that is freely available to anyone from the downloads section of www.gazelles.com. Then we customize it for their business, adding their logo and key indicators.
The one-page strategic plan template (OK, it uses two pages, but it’s one page, back-to-back) is simple. It moves from the big picture all the way to what you do Monday morning with elegant simplicity. To complete it you must ask yourself several fundamental questions. If you (and better yet, your team) can fill it out, you probably know where you’re going. If you can’t, you may be heading for a high-speed crash.
At the really big picture time horizon, the template asks you to define your:
- Core values and beliefs (what you care about)
- Purpose (why you exist)
- Big Hairy Audacious Goal (10- to 30-year measurable vision)
At the three- to five-year time horizon, the template asks you to define your:
- Opportunities and threats (in your marketplace)
- Targets for all key three- to five-year indicators (critical success measures)
- Key priorities over three to five years (only five)
- Sandbox (where you play business-wise)
- Brand promise (what you promise your customers)
- Smart numbers (one or two that reflect a combination of key indicators)
At the one-year time horizon, the template asks you to define your:
- Targets for all key annual indicators
- Annual priorities (only five)
- Most critical numbers (one or two will do)
At the one-quarter time horizon, the template asks you to define your:
- Targets for all quarterly indicators
- Quarterly priorities (only five)
- Most critical numbers (just one or two)
- Quarterly theme (driven by key targets, priorities, or values)
- Means of measuring quarterly progress, and plan for celebration
Lastly (this is the Monday morning part), the template asks you to define your:
- Personal quarterly accountabilities (what by when, five tops)
Out of breath yet? Yes, it’s a lot, but it really does fit on a page. It takes a bit of thought to distill the essence of your business down to these fundamentals, but think what it gives you when you’re done:
- A razor sharp picture of success – what it looks like, and how to get there
- A simple means of tying strategy to day-to-day operations
- An easy way to explain who you are and where you are going to your employees, your investors, even yourself!
The best way to put this together is through a partners retreat (really small company) or a management team retreat (bigger company). You need time, the template, the talent, and a facilitator or business coach. Of course, making your one-page plan only sets in motion other essential activities that keep and maintain this focus—but at least you can be sure they’ll be the right ones!
You can learn more about putting it into practice by reading the great, fast read: “The Mastering the Rockefeller Habits – What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm,” by Verne Harnish (of Gazelles). I’ve worked with Verne (Tom Peters called him “THE guru of fast-growth companies), and he’s brilliant. John D. Rockefeller was no sneeze either, and you might be interested in knowing his three habits that form the basis of Verne’s coaching: Priorities, Data, and Rhythm.
Here’s the link. You need priorities to make a one-page strategic plan. You need data to keep score. And you need rhythm to execute. Start by downloading the template, check your speedometer. Ask for help. Get focused. Good luck, and safe travels!
Jay W. Vogt is president of Peoplesworth and author of Recharge Your Team: The Grounded Visioning Approach by Praeger. Contact Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org