Google seems to have plenty of answers for just about any question you have. How many times a day do you say to yourself or someone else, “Just google it.” It’s almost as popular as Nike’s “Just do it.”
Strategic business planning is always a hot topic, and it seems more important than ever in 2023. Google says it’s got 803 million answers for how to do strategic planning, so there must be a good formula for professional services firms, right? Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t trust the formula because it usually stays on the shelf or was blown apart in 2020.
How can our strategic plan help us address some of the most difficult obstacles many of us have ever faced? Project schedule slippage. Staff shortages. Talent war. Inflation. Succession planning. Supply chain shortages. Quiet quitting. Burnout. WFH, WFO or hybrid. Balance. Health. Family. And how do we deal with disruptors that we can’t even imagine today?
It seems that a good strategic plan should help us navigate turbulent waters better. We’re looking for a planning process that is dust- or global catastrophe-resistant.
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, provides a straightforward framework for planning for your firm’s future. The authors share interesting anecdotes about how Proctor & Gamble applied this method to grow their brands.
Yes, P&G. You know their brands: Olay, Bounty, Gillette, Swiffer, and Febreze. Hold on! Yes, we can learn from outsiders!
The authors delve into each of the questions and provide interesting examples that help us understand the strategic formula. Professional service firms can certainly find similarities to P&G in terms of our vision and mission, geographies & markets, value proposition and competitive advantage, qualifications and areas of expertise, and support systems.
While we’re facing significant challenges and much uncertainty in 2023, having a strategic roadmap in place helps us develop specific and scalable tactics that respond to ever-changing economics and obstacles. Good plans are also agile and help us respond to unknowns.
Start with asking good questions, commit to keeping the conversation part of your regular check-ins and reports, set time-based goals, build agility into your expectations, respond to unanticipated events without fear and panic, and keep adjusting to the course you’ve set.
Strategic planning is not a one-and-done, get-dusty-on-the-shelf activity. It’s tracking, monitoring, and constant correction to stay on course.
Busy professionals deserve access to resources that improve their minds and helps them learn new skills. I’m an AEC industry veteran who listens and learns so I can share insights and ideas that help others grow and expand their capabilities.