In being an Inc. 500/5000 honoree two years in a row, we know a little something about strategic planning. It’s the basis that provides our company with an annual plan that sets up for another year of success. These sessions are designed to pinpoint goals, key initiatives and action items that need to be addressed in order for us to continue thriving.
Twice a year, for the past eight years, we’ve been honing our strategic thinking skills at Gazelles Growth Summits. These summits are gatherings of the top entrepreneurs in the world, led by Verne Harnish. These summits are a great place to grow not only as a business person but as a leader as well.
Let me go over the several outcomes that are generated from these planning sessions: A one year plan, a quarterly plan and an overall annual theme. The one year plan comes from the “homework” each member of our team has to complete. It includes a market analysis, revenue goals, Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat (SWOT) analysis, competition and market information. It also looks at the things we should be starting, continuing or stopping. A hint for organizations who are new to strategic planning is to start with defining your core values/beliefs, purpose, 10-year BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), core competencies, sandbox and brand promise.
After our team finishes their homework, we reach out to our customers with a survey. It asks various questions such as, “why did you choose VoIP Innovations?” and, “what can VoIP Innovations improve upon?” Once the customer surveys are completed, the data is reviewed and categorized which will then reveal specific trends and patterns. From these results we know what is important and can better structure our sessions in a more streamlined and efficient manner.
To start developing the quarterly plan, we first need to identify the critical quarterly numbers that tell us how the plan is performing. These metrics are sometimes referred to as mile markers. The next step is to take the one year plan and break it down into actions items and prioritize them with the most important item being assigned to the first quarter plan. We ensure plan accountability by assigning a person and deadline to each item so everyone can stay on track.
The last step in implementing a new strategic plan for the year is to engage the entire staff. Part of creating the plan includes developing a theme that represents the goals of the new plan. We create a visible scoreboard for the office and set a celebration or reward in the anticipation of completing the goals. The VI Guy usually has something to do with our themes because he represents what VoIP Innovations is all about!