In his book Launch, author Jeff Walker says, “Your most scarce resource is focus.” When it comes to strategic planning, you often examine your resources. Do we have enough staff, time or budget to complete a certain strategic initiative? Those are typical resource questions.
But before examining those issues, maybe you should examine a broader challenge: how focused is your strategic plan? In a recent post, we examined Four Ways To Avoid the Strategic Plan Drift. One of those tips was to focus your plan.
So if focus is a resource, how do you accomplish that key task with your strategic plan? Here are four ways:
- Limit your strategic initiatives—Do not walk out of your strategic planning session with a giant “To Do” list of 10, 20 or 30 things. Ideally, you should have somewhere between three and four major strategies you are trying to implement in the coming months and years. Too many strategies results in no strategy and a lack of focus.
- Have hard conversations—Spend time in your session talking about the “elephant in the room” issues. Don’t hold back. Raise the hard subjects. Examples might include mergers, an underperforming branch or department, a lack of a brand, leadership shortcomings, etc. Every credit union or bank has “issues.” If you don’t talk about the real issues affecting your growth then you will have a lack of focus.
- Set action plans, deadlines & budgets—My bachelor’s degree is in journalism. So I have deadlines drilled into me. Are deadlines drilled into your strategic plan? Rather than having vague ideas or “hopes,” put pen and paper to your strategies. This is especially important when it comes to the budget. Make sure you are allocating proper dollars to your top initiatives. If you don’t put dollars to your plan then you just have a wish list and no focus.
- Look for highest impact—Think of your strategic plan like a row of dominoes you are trying to knock down. Which one or two strategic “dominos” that if you knocked them down everything else at your financial institution would fall into place? When you identify those strategies, then those are the ones with highest impact. Focus your plan on those areas first. Examples could include leadership development, loan growth, updating technology or rebranding. Don’t try and do everything, rather do the most important things.
Walker is right: focus is actually a resource. There is only so much time, so much money and so much staff. If you treat focus like the precious resource it is, then your plan’s likelihood of success increases exponentially.