With Brexit negotiations underway, we are all bracing ourselves and hoping for positive news. Negotiations are taking place to discuss complex issues. Both parties entered these negotiations from different view points. Somewhere within this two year process, it is hoped a settlement can be reached. There has to be give and take on both sides.
The fear is that one side tries to be too strong, unwavering with the hope that the other capitulates. In the UK, we appear to have three potential outcomes…
- The UK capitulates and allows Europe to call the shots, resulting in a very weak position.
- An amicable settlement is reached which, on the face of it is the best deal we can achieve.
- Neither side budges on key issues and a “hard” Brexit takes place.
At the moment, if there is a clear strategic plan from the Government, then it is considered confidential. It’s understandable that it’s not for us to know. The big question is whether there actually is a plan never mind a clear one!
Sadly, this is the same premise that many businesses operate under…
- There is no plan
- If there is one, it is unclear
- Nobody working in the business knows the plan
A business doesn’t have to reach a certain size to have a plan. The sad truth is that the majority of businesses will only write a business plan if and when they require funding. Very few will write a strategic plan. This is a completely different document.
A business plan tells a story to potential funders, providing background, financial, marketing and trading information. The story provides a logical format for a prospective lender to understand the business and make a decision to lend, based on the facts presented.
A Strategic Plan Is Different
It is the statement of intention which describes what the business is and does, the market(s) it serves, the reputation it wants through its marketing messages and how it acts and responds to the prospect and market as a whole. The strategic plan also states the business’ ambitions in different markets over a one, three and perhaps five year period.
A strategic plan should be written to cover all of these key areas with notable inclusion of key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the specific areas in the business which record the current status of the business compared to expectation. There should be clear understanding of what the key performance indicators are, how they are measured and what they mean.
With Brexit negotiations, we hope there is a plan. Secondly, we hope the plan is very clear and the negotiators are fully aware and working towards achieving the right results. There will be key performance indicators within the plan, which may be numbers or specific statement of requirement.
The difficult part for Brexit negotiators is that they will not share the plan with anybody that is outside of the negotiations. The general public do not need to know the plan and many people will either have little interest or understanding if they were shown a copy of it.
However, should a business owner act in the same manner?
- Should the staff know the plan?
- Should they be involved in the creation of the plan?
- Should they be invited to express their point of view?
I’ve completed strategic plans with many size businesses. Over the years, the owners have included senior management, but in turn have asked their staff specific questions to obtain views and ideas to help shape the business.
I believe that a good strategic plan should be shared with the team. It’s good for morale as it helps the team buy into it. There is a greater sense of ownership.
The first part of a strategic plan is sometimes the toughest. This is creating the vision.
- What does the business do?
- Who does it do it for?
- How does it compete in the market to do it in a different way to the competition?
- How will you know when it is being done correctly (KPIs)?
Of course, with Brexit, we are kept in the dark. But the civil servants and ministers should have undertaken a specific exercise to set out their objectives.
When the strategic plan is finally written, I believe it should be discussed with the entire team. To obtain buy-in, you first need agreement. If the plan is so far removed from where the business is now, then a clear path needs to be understood. This is where comments are recorded and returned to the management team for further discussion. It could be further amendments or edits are required to finalise the plan.
A business owner should lead the team and the business. To do this, they must be clear which direction they are moving in, how they are going to achieve this and through good recording and monitoring, how they will know where they are on the journey.
Creating a strategic plan is a bit like planning a trip. You know where you are starting from, the end destination, and the key places on the route that confirm you are moving in the right direction. To achieve, you must have the resources and skills to take the journey.
With Brexit, at the moment, the British people are unclear exactly what is being negotiated and what our stance is within the negotiations. It may take two years before we are provided with the done deal. It will be irrelevant whether we like it or not. Our futures are left in the hands of negotiators that we do not know or trust.
I hope your business is not run on the same basis?Do you have a Strategic Plan for your business? Is it clear? #strategy Click To Tweet