Google ‘Long Range Strategic Planning’ and you’ll discover the ultimate rabbit hole of all rabbit holes — a sea of flow charts, detailed diagrams, and instructions that I am not smart enough to understand let alone implement. How do I find one that works for a growth-focused company entering new markets? Aren’t we supposed to be agile?!
JUST PICK ONE AND KEEP MOVING
In a nutshell, the planning strategies I was researching all seemed like a ton of work that would eventually produce a plan that would be deemed obsolete 6 weeks into the year.
After I had some time to think, I came to the realization that I needed to take my learnings, create our own logic, and align with the executive team so that we could get to executing.
We knew we wanted a structure that clearly connected our mission, vision, and core values to annual goals — but we also wanted one that was flexible enough to be adjusted and changed as necessary based on real time market feedback. Additionally, we knew we wanted to have a plan and annual goals that gave specific accountability to each of our executives for large pieces of the strategy.
If done properly, we knew the benefit of this structure would mean more clarity for the entire team. It would provide insight into how everyone’s daily tasks connected to our vision and annual goals. Knowing this, everyone on our team would gain an understanding of what actions made the most positive impact, and what actions negatively impacted our bottom line. Just 2 days after coming across Marc Benioff’s v2mom structure, I watched Scott Dorsey discuss the way he used the structure at ExactTarget. Needless to say, I found this incredibly intriguing, and eye-opening. – so we got to work and slowly modified this structure to fit our goals. We are in year 2 and had a significant leap forward from the prior year. This second time around, the planning went smoother, as did the rollout.
Here is a high-level overview of our adapted V2mom planning framework as it stands today:
- Mission: It answers the question ‘Why we exist’ and is the fundamental purpose of the organization.
- Vision: It answers ‘where do we want to go’ and serves as the ultimate goal for the foreseeable future.
- Annual Vision Statements: More defined and focused pieces of the vision. It is meant to bring increased clarity and structure around resource allocation, planning and priority over next year.
- Programs (Methods): Large projects lasting a minimum of 12 months. Each program must have a leader/owner with clear deliverables. Programs are across departments with resources approved by leadership. Each program aligns with our vision and are the ‘methods’ within the V2mom framework. The program goals drive the company’s goals.
- Initiatives: Smaller projects that break up programs into actionable chunks. An initiative must have a minimum of 3 milestones with 1 milestone per month, a leader/owner, and a clear deliverable/goal. Initiatives aren’t typically planned further than a quarter ahead, allowing for us to be agile as feedback becomes available. These are updated in our Business Performance Review (BPR) meetings where all managers are updating KPI’s as well. New initiatives are approved by the executive team.
As we originally intended, we continue to make changes on a regular basis to the framework and how we execute and communicate it. The lesson I learned from this entire experience is that it’s not about what structure you use, but about making that structure your own.