Strategic Planning and Time Management

Introduction to Strategic Planning
If you don't know where your business is going, any road will get you there. What is a Strategic Plan? Entrepreneurs and business managers are often so preoccupied with immediate issues that they lose sight of their ultimate objectives. That's why a business review or preparation of a strategic plan is a virtual necessity. This may not be a recipe for success, but without it a business is much more likely to fail. A sound plan should:
• • • • •

Serve as a framework for decisions or for securing support/approval. Provide a basis for more detailed planning. Explain the business to others in order to inform, motivate & involve. Assist benchmarking & performance monitoring. Stimulate change and become building block for next plan.

A strategic plan should not be confused with a business plan. The former is likely to be a (very) short document whereas a business plan is usually a much more substantial and detailed document. A strategic plan can provide the foundation and frame work for a business plan. A strategic plan is not the same thing as an operational plan. The former should be visionary, conceptual and directional in contrast to an operational plan which is likely to be shorter term, tactical, focused, implementable and measurable. As an example, compare the process of planning a vacation (where, when, duration, budget, who goes, how travel are all strategic issues) with the final preparations (tasks, deadlines, funding, weather, packing, transport and so on are all operational matters). A satisfactory strategic plan must be realistic and attainable so as to allow managers and entrepreneurs to think strategically and act operationally. Basic Approach to Strategic Planning Some essential points which should to be observed during the planning process include the following: Relate to the medium term i.e. 2/4 years Focus on matters of strategic importance Be separated from day-to-day work Be realistic, detached and critical Distinguish between cause and effect Be reviewed periodically Be written down.

local community and other stakeholders. influenced by our environment and guided by our more stable core values and beliefs. employees. Values and beliefs form our attitudes and guide our behavior. Core values are the principles and standards at the very center of our character. Correctly defined. . us and those around us. Core values form the basis for our beliefs about life. it is desirable to clearly identify the current status. This then leads to strategy development covering the following issues discussed in more detail below: • • • • • Values Vision Mission Goals and Objectives Strategies Key Steps towards a Strategic Plan The Values The next element is to address the Values governing the operation of the business and its conduct or relationships with society at large. suppliers. customers.As the precursor to developing a strategic plan. Core values are extremely stable and change only very slowly over long periods of time. Threats and Opportunities. Weaknesses. the basic underlying foundation for both is our core values. objectives and strategies of an existing business or the latest thinking in respect of a new venture. Our outer or public shell of behaviors and skills can change rapidly and dramatically through our lives. and the human potential of ourselves and others. The behaviors we engage in are what people around us see. along with our skills and actions. these can be used as the basis for a critical examination to probe existing or perceived Strengths. Even though we frequently talk about mission and vision first. and from which we will not budge or stray.

Core values are so close to the center of who we are that they tend to be very protected and not shared with others until a personal relationship has been established. what would they see (or sense)?" Consider its future products. say the core values of a farm business are efficiency. processes. Be effectively communicated to and accepted by everyone involved in the organization. 2. You need to walk the talk and be totally committed to them yourself first. knowing the relative importance of efficiency versus safety will help guide the decision. read them at a staff meeting and even hand them out in printed form that everyone will immediately accept and work toward achieving them. You can’t expect that just because you develop mission and vision statements. safety and respect for others. energy and commitment. location. Success comes through bringing aboard people ∼ as partners. staffing etc. The more precise and detailed you can be in writing a description of your vision of the future. Answer the question: "if someone from Mars visited the business. It won’t necessarily make these decisions easy or totally objective but it will bring some guidance and consistency to the decision making process. If a question comes up about implementing a practice that will improve operational efficiency but may compromise the health and safety of employees. Then when questions come up later where one value must be traded off against another the decision will be easier to make and communicate. employees or consultants ∼ with core values that fit well with the business. The fact that these values are so central to what’s important to us individually. customers. . The Vision The first step is to develop a realistic Vision for the business. effort. Be aligned with the core values of both the individuals and the organization. If an employee’s child is hospitalized are they expected to be at the farm for their shift regardless. and then discuss them with your employees and consultants at least eight or ten times before they will believe you’re really serious and begin to internalize these statements. This should be presented as a pen picture of the organization in 5 or more years time in terms of its likely physical appearance. family. activities etc. In order to truly guide and motivate a vision must: 1. the easier it will be to communicate it to others and gain their commitment to it. vision and goals in both our life and business. or with their child in the hospital? Knowing the relative importance of family versus operational efficiency will help answer that question. size. and the more likely you will be to achieve it.For some people identifying and communicating personal core values can be a difficult task. it’s frequently useful to rank them from more to less important. Once the values of an individual or organization are identified. makes it all the more important to think about them first as a basis for establishing sound and meaningful mission. and who understand and accept the business mission and vision as matching closely with their own. Developing visions and missions that are truly shared takes time. markets. For example.

Maintain focus and perspective . Clearly and specifically written. manufacture and market specific product lines for sale on the basis of certain features to meet the identified needs of specified customer groups via certain distribution channels in particular geographic areas". although frequently short statements. Having well developed goals and objectives also helps: . Written goals and objectives provide motivation to achieve them and can then be used as a reminder to you and others.Establish priorities . A statement along these lines indicates why this organization exists and is infinitely clearer than saying. They can often seem overwhelming and perhaps even impossible to achieve. develop.A chievable . "to design. they’re used interchangeably from one business author to another. or for ourselves. for instance. More often than not employees are confused and frustrated by a lack of detail. and navigate the course we have set for our business. both goals and objectives should be: . the road map and manageable stepping stones to achieve the mission. . encompassing and far-reaching. Reading the business literature is confusing as to what a goal is and what an objective is. The metaphors. The education literature however is consistent and specific. "we are in business to make money" (assuming that the business is not a mint !). If they aren’t in writing they’re merely ideas with no real power or conviction behind them.Lead to greater job satisfaction .The Mission The nature of a business is often expressed in terms of its Mission which indicates the purposes of the business. Goals & Objectives Mission and vision. the reality is. fit well in regard to achieving a mission and vision. the most important are measurable results and a timeframe for completion. "we're in electronics" or worse still. they also eliminate confusion and misunderstanding.Improve employee performance. To be effective goals and objectives must be written.R ealistic .S pecific . for example. Among all the attributes of a well-written objective. Goals and objectives create the bite size pieces. Being able to quantify results and evaluate the timeliness of accomplishing goals allows owners or managers to assess the performance and progress of the overall business as well as individuals and teams within the business. are broad.T imed While it’s possible to get bogged down in minutiae. few people error on the side of too much detail when it comes to writing goals and objectives.M easurable . “How do you eat an elephant? – One bite at a time” and “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. The objective is merely a long term goal. however. make the vision a reality.

features . achievements and failures and other critical features within the company.resources. If a startup is being planned. They can cover the business as a whole including such matters as as goals are achieved or milestones along the way are reached. Failure to periodically set new or more challenging goals can lead to stagnation in the business and boredom among employees. R&D .promotion .productivity .efficiency . providing positive feedback and rewards for yourself and employees is critical to maintaining enthusiasm and continued progress. or conditions and situations change. or acquisition plans.structures.organization . expertise and management abilities .range .Researchers studying the effects of goals as part of an organization’s overall performance management process found that the level of performance is highest when: . for example: SWOT . objectives etc. The objective is to build up a picture of the outstanding good and bad points.processes. the strengths and weaknesses are related mainly to the promoter(s) . Finally. Costs . may be achieved.Keys to Business Strategies Having built up a picture of the company's past aims and achievements. These include: • • • • • • • • Sales .distribution . programs and organization in key areas.capacity .expertise . weaknesses. Products . Management .Goals are clearly stated and contain specific objectives . or they can relate to primary matters in key functional areas.Employees accept their goals with a true sense of ownership .systems .purchasing. organic growth.their experience.quality . Strengths & Weaknesses Strengths and weaknesses are essentially internal to the organization and relate to matters concerning resources.effort .resources .direction . opportunities and threats) analysis can commence. it’s important to reevaluate and establish new goals and objectives. the allimportant SWOT (strengths. .Goals are challenging but not unreasonable .pricing . Operations .competitiveness.Employees participate in setting and reviewing their goals. Systems . As time goes on and goals are achieved.rather than to the .performance. Finances . The Strategies Next are the Strategies – the “How” by which the mission.

social/demographic issues. If you are planning a new business. economic factors. etc. international dimensions. environment etc. weaknesses. threats and opportunities: (Strengths & Weaknesses are internal to the business and Opportunities & Threats are external. strengths & weaknesses) New technologies which may be causing fundamental changes in products. Steps to formulate a Strategic Plan 1.Threats & Opportunities The external threats and opportunities confronting a company. Write in future tense. performances. processes. All SWOTs should be 'one-handed' . market shares. Mission/purpose statement for business to cover next 3/4 years: (Covers why the business exists. emergence/contraction of niches. growth patterns and maturity.) Use SWOT to help identify possible strategies by building on strengths. etc. aggressiveness. Maximum of 150 words) . Maximum 150 words) 4. cost savings etc. Enter up to six items under each heading and then rank them in order of importance. exploiting opportunities and avoiding threats. Vision of business in 3/4 years time: (What will the business look like? If a visitor from Mars dropped in what would be seen and evident. alternative solutions. relative attractiveness of segments) The marketplace which may be altering due to economic or social factors (Customers. political & environmental factors) Competition which may be creating new threats or opportunities (Identities. Statement of corporate values and beliefs: (Covers employees. Maximum of 150 words) 3. resolving weaknesses. distribution channels. Assess the business's EXISTING strengths. established patterns and relationships. customers.something is either a Strength or a Weakness but cannot be both. likely plans. consider the project's and its promoters' existing SWOTs) 2. (Substitute products. shifting channels. can exist or develop in the following areas: • • • • The company's own industry where structural changes may be occurring (Size and segmentation.

these come later) 6. operations etc. values and objectives: (Refine and revise/restate key strategies to deal with the perceived FUTURE SWOTs) 9. Set out key long-term objectives: (These are the primary underlying reasons for being involved in the business. 7. Identify key strategies for business and major functional areas: (Build on strengths. Define strategic action programs: (Indicate who. If a family. market shares. a business. Developing shared mission. then they should have done so) 8. managers. toward the same mission and vision. threats and opportunities: (Do the foregoing strategies improve the initial SWOTs? If they don't. when. mission. finances. Having them in place won’t eliminate arguments and disagreements. employees ∼ are not all headed in the same direction. Assess possible FUTURE strengths. weaknesses. Review your vision. resolve threats. where. List and prioritize up to ten or so major strategies. vision and values is the first step in laying a foundation for making strategic and tactical decisions that will move the business forward.5. but at least the disagreement will be about how to best get to the same endpoint as opposed to heading in opposite directions.) 10. family members. Add any new dimensions revealed by Vision and Mission. or a team doesn’t have a common direction ∼ mission. Specify major goals achievable over the next 3/4 years: (Quantify in terms of sales. exploit opportunities and avoid threats. what. Set targets and prioritize) Final Tip: In an organization it’s difficult or impossible to agree on strategic or even tactical decisions if everyone in the business ∼ owners. how etc. However. vision and core values ∼ arguments will occur surrounding nearly every decision and agreements may be impossible. and are not specific targets . no plan can ever be achieved without taking into consideration the most important resource of all…TIME .

every night it writes off. it allows no overdraft. It carries over no balance from day to day. What would you do? Draw out every cent. to waste your time is to waste your life Pareto’s principle: A small number of causes (20%) is responsible for a large part of the effect (80%) • • 20% of a person's effort generates 80% of the person's results.Time Management Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with R86. it credits you with 86. Every “evening” deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. Each day it opens a new account for you and each night it burns the remains of the day. as lost. Time is Life. Every morning. of course!!!! Each of us has such a “bank”. Its name is TIME. whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. If you fail to use the day’s deposits. the loss is yours. 1 TIME WASTER Excessive Socializing Excessive paperwork Communication breakdown Lack of policies and procedures Lack of competent personnel Internal: o Procrastination o Lack of planning and prioritizing o Indecisiveness o Not being able to say “no” o Failure to delegate o Unclear objectives o Living always in “Crisis management” mode o Poor scheduling o Lack of self-discipline o Attempting to do too much at once o Lack of relevant skills . It is irreversible and irreplaceable. 80% of your success comes from 20% of your efforts It is vital to focus 80% of your time on the 20% of your work that REALLY counts Time Wasters: External: o o o o o o o Telephone interruptions Meetings: claimed to be the NO. It carries over no balance.400.400 seconds.

Though all of these factors contribute in wasting time. Distractions. Worrying about the final outcome. Ok. easy or trivial stuff things first. We procrastinate because we fear two things: o FAILURE: It is easier to accept that we failed because we didn’t project than to fail at doing the project SUCCESS: For example: If I get all “A’s” this semester. If I do an outstanding job on this project. so now we understand the problem. and then starting on the first one” Mark Twain In other words. but where can you lose time? Worrying about finishing on time. but is there a solution??? “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. the key is PLANNING ☺ even attempt a o . everyone will expect me to do the same next semester. Procrastination is The Art of Delaying the inevitable. one of them is extremely dangerous and also very common: Procrastination: Procrastination is the thief of time. my boss will just pile on more work. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks. Doing “unimportant”.

3 and 4 in the previous section discussing planning.The Time management Process: 1. Professional 2. doesn’t mean you should. Allocate time appropriately for each step We covered steps 2. Determine your goals for each priority 3. Personal b. however most people find the greatest problem is mastering the skill of setting priorities: Set your own priorities: One of the key tools in setting priorities is to always remember that: Just because you can do something. Plan the steps for goal attainment 4. Figure out what you want to achieve and spend the majority of your time (80%) in it ☺ These things that contribute to you achieving your vision are called “BIG ROCKS” and the skill of prioritizing is all about: Putting the Big Rocks in First To understand this concept more let’s view this Time Matrix: . Set your own priorities a.

the two factors that define an activity are urgent and important. . You could spend hours preparing materials. Most people can't stand the thought of just allowing the phone to ring. on the other hand. They press on us. and your high priority goals." But those same people would probably let you wait in an office for at least that long while they completed a telephone conversation with someone else. Urgent matters are usually visible. If something is important. It's "Now!" Urgent things act on us. and fun to do. has to do with results. They're often popular with others. If you were to phone someone. there aren't many people who would say. Urgent means it requires immediate attention. we spend time in one of four ways. they insist on action. just hold. "I'll get to you in 15 minutes. it would generally take precedence over your personal visit. A ringing phone is urgent.Basically. They're usually right in front of us. But so often they are unimportant! Importance. it contributes to your mission. but if the phone were to ring while you were there. you could get all dressed up and travel to a person's office to discuss a particular issue. And often they are pleasant. As you see. your values. easy.

writing a personal mission statement. The only relief they have is in escaping to the not important. doing the preventive things that keep situations from developing into crises in the first place. Some people are literally beaten up by the problems all day every day. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative. There are other people who spend a great deal of time in "urgent. we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent. Whoever you are. You struggle back up only to face another one that knocks you down and slams you to the ground. problem-minded people. It deals with things like building relationships. They also shrink Quadrant I down to size by spending more time in Quadrant II. but not important" Quadrant III. not urgent activities of Quadrant IV. Effective people stay out of Quadrants III and IV because. They spend most of their time reacting to things that are urgent. and the deadline-driven producers. Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. Your effectiveness would increase dramatically. People who spend time almost exclusively in Quadrants III and IV basically lead irresponsible lives. of the results we desire in our lives. It's like the pounding surf. and preparation -.all those things we know we need to do." We all have some Quadrant I activities in our lives. But the reality is that the urgency of these matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others. if you were to ask what lies in Quadrant II and cultivate the proactivity to go after it. assuming they are also important. Quadrant I is both urgent and important.We react to urgent matters. So when you look at their total matrix. They are crisis managers. We usually call the activities in Quadrant I "crises" or "problems. 90 percent of their time is in Quadrant I and most of the remaining 10 percent is in Quadrant IV with only negligible attention paid to Quadrants II and III. That's how people who manage their lives by crisis live. you would find amazing results. more proactivity. they aren't important. exercising. it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it dominates you. If we don't practice. long-range planning. urgent or not. working on the roots. But Quadrant I consumes many people. It deals with significant results that require immediate attention. but are important. but somehow seldom get around to doing. if we don't have a clear idea of what is important. Your crises and problems would shrink to manageable proportions because you would be thinking ahead. thinking they're in Quadrant I. A huge problem comes and knocks you down and you're wiped out. because they aren't urgent. to make things happen. As long as you focus on Quadrant I. It deals with things that are not urgent. . We must act to seize opportunity. preventive maintenance. Look for a moment at the four quadrants in the Time Management Matrix.

if you let it. son or daughter. of what is important as you consider each of your roles and two or three goals for each role. you have to learn to say "no" to other activities. the good can keep you from your best. it is probably to the more fundamental. urgent things in your life. these shortterm goals would be tied to the longer-term goals you have identified in conjunction with your personal mission statement. You can't ignore the urgent and important activities of Quadrant I. But even if you haven't written your mission statement. you can get a feeling. uncles. highly important things. You may want to list one or more roles as a family member -." Keep in mind that you are always saying "no" to something. you can write down what immediately comes to mind. a sense. If your priorities grow out of a principle center and a personal mission. and cousins. smiling. if they are deeply planted in your heart and in your mind.a husband or wife. Even when the urgent is good. . Becoming a Quadrant II Self-Manager Quadrant II organizing involves four key activities. you will see Quadrant II as a natural. Selecting Goals: The next step is to think of two or three important results you feel you should accomplish in each role during the next seven days. exciting place to invest your time. The enemy of the "best" is often the "good. The way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities.What it takes to Say "No" The only place to get time for Quadrant II in the beginning is from Quadrants III and IV. Identifying Roles: The first task is to write down your key roles. Ideally. To say "yes" to important Quadrant II priorities. say "no" to other things. If you haven't really given serious thought to the roles in your life. You have to be proactive to work on Quadrant II because Quadrant I and III work on you. although it will shrink in size as you spend more time with prevention and preparation in Quadrant II. indicating different areas in which you wish to invest time and energy on a regular basis. And the way you do that is by having a bigger "yes" burning inside. sometimes apparently urgent things. mother or father. These would be recorded as goals. If it isn't to the apparent. At least some of these goals should reflect Quadrant II activities. But the initial time for Quadrant II has come out of III and IV. You have a role as an individual. keep you from your unique contributions. You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage --pleasantly. You may want to list a few roles in your work. a member of the extended family of grandparents. nonapologetically -.

Ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics. and experiences in a meaningful way. you can see that your roles and goals provide a natural prioritization that grows out of your innate sense of balance. As you overview the day.. Sunday (or some other day of the week that is special to you. you may want to set aside a two-hour block of time on Sunday to work on it. more right-brain prioritization that ultimately comes out of your sense of personal mission. your faith. Best of Luck ☺ Aya Younis Lo’ai Muhammad . or your circumstances) is often the ideal time to plan your more personally uplifting activities. relationships. we chose to end this with a word of wisdom to help us remember the VALUE of time: To realize the value of ONE YEAR…. Daily Adapting: With Quadrant II weekly organizing. It's a good time to draw back.Scheduling: Now you look at the week ahead with your goals in mind and schedule time to achieve them. To realize the value of ONE MINUTE…Ask a person who missed the train. to see inspiration. Ask a student who failed a grade To realize the value of ONE MONTH…Ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby To realize the value of ONE WEEK…Ask the editor of a weekly newspaper To realize the value of ONE HOUR…Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet. To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND…. To realize the value of ONE SECOND…. Taking a few minutes each morning to review your schedule can put you in touch with the value-based decisions you made as you organized the week as well as unanticipated factors that may have come up. if your goal is to produce the first draft of your personal mission statement. to look at your life in the context of principles and values. For example. including weekly organizing. It is a softer. or prioritizing activities and responding to unanticipated events.Ask a person who just avoided an accident. daily planning becomes more a function of daily adapting. To summarize.

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