Is your planning keeping up with your growth?
How dynamic is your business? Are you having trouble keeping your strategy up to date because your growth rate is outstripping your ability to plan? Are some segments of it growing much faster than others? Do you consider a long-range plan to be a couple of years out?
In areas of fast growth, it’s important for leaders to match their strategic planning process with their growth rate. When you are experiencing “Normal” growth, then an annual strategic planning process works fine. When you are experiencing “Above Normal” growth, then you might need to pulse your strategy on a quarterly basis to keep up with the changes it needs. When you are experiencing “High Growth,” you might need to update your strategy on a monthly basis as things are that dynamic and fluid.
In a recent strategic planning session, one of the senior leaders shared that, “In today’s world it just doesn’t make sense to create a 5-year plan.” His company is growing very rapidly, so his observation was right on point. Your strategic planning process should be a derivative of your growth rate and market dynamics. In their case, trying to predict where they would be in 5 years was nearly impossible…it is just too dynamic. So instead they focused in on the next 1 to 2 years and how to make the trajectory of their growth opportunity a reality.
In another situation I was working with an executive who managed four different streams of business for a fast growth company. In his case, three of the streams could be considered “Normal” in terms of growth. The fourth stream was definitely “High Growth” and represented a key business segment for the company.
When we started working together, the executive planned to manage all four streams using the same process. His approach was to have each manager create an annual plan for their respective business area. As we drilled down on it, I encouraged him to handle the fast growth business very differently and more dynamically. It was just too volatile to manage like the other three business areas. We changed the plan and shifted to a monthly strategic update regimen based on the high growth and expected high impact of that business segment.
In working on strategy, it is important to step back and consider the volatility of your anticipated growth and how quickly things will likely change. Then match your strategic planning process to the dynamics of the business that you are leading. Sometimes this might require doing things differently for one area of the business versus another—but you’ll find that adjusting your process is worth it as your strategy will be current and aligned with your rate of growth.
CEO of Tailwind Consulting
Ron Cox is Founder and CEO of Tailwind Consulting, LLC. He personally works with senior executives on strategy and growth. He works as a coach and mentor to executives, and especially enjoys helping them navigate key transitions as they grow into bigger roles. Ron is a pioneer and thought leader in thinking-based solutions for executives. During his career, Ron has been CEO of four international training and consulting companies with revenues ranging to $200 million.