One Page Strategic Plan Benefits

Top 3 One Page Strategic Plan Benefits

A client asked me the other day, “Why is it important to capture your strategy on just one page?”

Having coached so many companies to do so, I (mistakenly) assumed it was normal for every organization to want to capture their strategy on one page, but realized that I had forgotten to sell the benefits to the client.

Here are my top 3 one page strategic plan benefits:

1. Get everyone on the same page

A complex, multi-page document or slide deck is unlikely to be read or understood by everyone in your company. It is also highly unlikely to be looked at frequently.

The one-page strategic plan can be shared with every employee. It’s not just a management cliche. With a one page strategic plan you can literally “get everyone on the same page” by having a unifying document that clearly and simply informs your people about:

  • Who we are as a company
  • Where we are going
  • How we plan to get there

Whether printed out or stored online, I urge clients to display the plan where people see it on a daily basis. I even ask my clients to send photographic proof of this. Some clients print out the document and post it at people’s workstations. I had one client in Canada send pictures of their plans taped to the inside doors of their toilet cubicles!

Note: Not all one-page strategic plans are created equal. Yes, any strategic plan is probably better than no plan, and all methodologies have merit, but many of the popular “strategy on a page” frameworks for small-medium sized businesses tend to focus on long-term vision and goal setting. Vision provides context, but it does not provide a clear strategic direction. Goal setting is good, but goal setting is not strategy. Unfortunately, many strategic plans are devoid of strategy. For further reading on this point:

2. Focus on what is truly strategic

By virtue of limited space (you have only one page to work with after all), a one-page strategic plan forces you to identify and capture only the things that are truly important.

Without a disciplined strategic decision making framework to force you to think strategically and make clear choices, the default tendency for many organizations is to create financial forecasts for the future and lists of everything they want to do. They bundle these lists into a multi-page document or slide deck combined with a series of spreadsheets and think they have created a strategic plan.

Wrong!

There are two major problems with this:

First of all, a list of ‘things to do’ is not a strategy. It is just a list of things to do. Such lists usually grow out of planning meetings in which a wide variety of stakeholders suggest things they would like to see accomplished. Rather than focus on a few important strategic moves, the group sweeps the whole day’s collection into a document they erroneously call a strategic plan.

A winning strategy requires a thorough industry analysis and understanding of how your industry is likely to play out and then getting very clear on the few, pivotal strategic moves your company needs to make to position yourself for future success.

Secondly, most companies try to do far too much. Strategy requires trade-offs. You cannot do everything you want to do. You cannot be everything to everybody. You cannot just blindly copy the moves of your competitors and hope to win. You have to figure out what to say “YES” to, and what to say “NO” to. You must make clear cut choices about how you will compete in the future, and then allocate your time and resources accordingly.

I often say to my clients, “If you are not making any trade-offs, you don’t have a strategy!”

Also, “If everything is strategic, then nothing is.”

Less is more when it comes to strategy execution. I recommend that you whittle your wishlist down to the 3 long-term strategic moves that will have the greatest impact on your future success, and say “NO” to everything that doesn’t make the cut.

I’ve always liked this quote from Jim Collins: “If you have more than 3 priorities, you don’t have any.”

3. Teach strategy best practices to your staff

Capturing your strategy on one page and using it to educate and align your people is a great start. But the world of strategy is filled with business jargon, much of which can be difficult to understand. A good strategic planning template should provide a definition of what each element in the plan means, why it is important, and how it relates to the whole. This enables every employee to understand the context for all the strategic decisions they see on the plan.

Note: Even if you think you understand the definitions, it does not mean you know what “good strategic decisions” look like. You see, strategic planning is not about filling out boxes on a template, it’s about going through a disciplined thought process to make wise strategic choices. 

In my previous role as Head of Strategy and Consulting at a global consulting company, I spent a lot of time auditing and reviewing strategic plans for client firms; providing critique, teaching best practices, and helping them translate their decisions into actionable strategic projects. and metrics / KPIs

Yes, I am biased, but I recommend getting an objective 3rd party to facilitate your strategic planning and challenge your decisions to make sure they are robust and well thought through.

Need help? Contact me to discuss your strategic planning needs.

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Until next time…
Stephen

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