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Sain’s guest blogger is Don Thomas, President of TBCI, a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, ownership transition, and business development for A/E/C firms in the US and Canada.
So, it’s time once again to dust off that strategic plan, or maybe do a “real” strategic plan for the first time. Whether you view it as drudgery, or as an opportunity to design an exciting future for your company, there are definitely some key considerations you should anticipate. Planning is a process, not an event, and when done properly and on a periodic basis, can pay huge dividends for firms undertaking the process.
What are those things that you and your team must pay attention to in the strategic planning process? These generally are the influences arising from political, economic, sociocultural, technological, legal and environmental influences, best characterized as “PESTLE” forces, which are continuously acting on every company in business today. This especially holds true today in the A/E/C market. As an example, with the generational shift from boomer to millennial well underway, a major shift is taking place in workplace behaviors and norms unlike anything in the recent past. This is stressing the talent pool and putting significant pressure on the HR function in many firms. Similarly, the continuous stream of technology advancements in design tools, project and financial management systems, artificial intelligence applications and related elements of our profession, is driving change at an ever-increasing pace. These can have significant impacts on business efficiency, production cost, and firm profitability. Unfortunately, many firms are at risk of being pushed into the vulnerable position of commoditization, unless they choose to “plan” their way out of it.
To further complicate the landscape, an increasing number of companies are entering the realm of transition in firm leadership and ownership, driven largely by the boomer demographic and consolidation in the A/E/C market sector. This evolving condition is placing inordinate pressure on the need for strong financial management to produce much-needed profits to fund the transition process and provide resources for investment in leadership development and not just in “managing” the current business workload.
Equally important is selection of the planning team that will be charged with plotting the future of the business. The team’s composition should be broad-based, representing the various constituencies that functionally and generationally exist in a business today. There should similarly be a focus on achieving a shared vision of the future, with strong alignment and accountability to assure that plan goals, objectives and actions are achieved.
So, here are some key questions to consider:
“Do we want to run our business, or do we choose to let our business run us?”
“Do we know where we want to be at a future point in time, or is any destination an acceptable one?”
“How will we preserve our value proposition and engage our talent in work that it enjoys?”
“Can we preserve our culture and purpose, or do we have to sacrifice who we are in order to survive?”
These are a few of the considerations that must be accommodated in any strategic planning process. In essence, these, and other forces, make strategic planning an absolute must.