We’ve all heard that saying “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” and we all know that to get big ideas off the ground you need to have a plan. Yet taking that first step can be the hardest hurdle to overcome, knowing exactly where you should start.
Whether you’re a business owner, a manager or a person with big dreams, you have probably worked out what your goals are or you may even have a strategic plan, but without a well thought out operational plan, these are just BIG ideas that won’t be put into action. Without a clear idea of structure or key elements you will flounder and procrastinate resulting in rushed incomplete work or projects never fully realized.
BE CLEAR ON YOUR PURPOSE, VISION & MISION
Typically, a strategic plan will start with this in mind.
Your Purpose is your “WHY”. If you haven’t already, read “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek. Never heard of him?
Basically his theory is “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
For you as an individual, it’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning, it’s why you were put on this earth. What is your passion? What problem is your organization passionate about resolving?
Your Vision, is the big picture. If you were to wave a magic wand, what would the world look like? It’s the “WHAT”. What will you do to fulfill your purpose? What does your big, bright future hold, even if its seems inconceivable from where you sit right now? How do people feel when they come into the presence of your vision?
Your mission, about the “HOW”. What kind of values or personality do you have in delivering your vision? How do you deliver your service? What is it that you actually do and what problems do you solve?
MONITOR YOUR PERFORMANCE
How do you know when you are successful? What the milestones for the strategies you come up with? What are the Key Result Areas and what goals do you have for these specific areas?
The Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) may well help you to achieve these goals. They are milestones that tell you what quantities you require to meet those milestones. They might be, how much money do you need to have made to reach the budget target and/or how many clients do you need to have served. Measures of success can be financial, growth, customer satisfaction, Productivity and stakeholder or staff satisfaction.
RISK AND CONTINGENCY
The aim of identifying risk is to protect the plan by reducing risk with contingency. Things that may affect your plans could be things like: delays in supplies or illness of a key team member. This is to identify how likely the risk is and how bad will the consequence be. Identifying your milestones early on, or your key performance indicators will allow to become aware of when risk is occurring and allow you to reverse course or adjust expectations.
Even from a small scale, you can ask yourself the question ‘And what is the consequence if I do not reach this goal? What impact does it have on me or my goal?’ This also helps identify a motivational source.
The resources you may need to use will ultimately determine some of your budget expense. For example what people do you use in your internal team, what can you outsource. What materials will you require? What resource will you need to create or develop? What overheads might exist? You may also want to think about time being a resource. This is an area that can really take you off course. It’s important to consider whether or not your pursuit of resource is aligned with your vision and your mission.
For example, a business owner wanting to start a coaching business may consider affiliations (such as selling others books) as a revenue resource. However, for a start up business, this may be in conflict with the vision of being seen as an expert adviser in a chose field with intellectual property. The coach may well develop their own resource and this pursuit could come into conflict with the vision and mission.
At the end of the day, your Operational plan should describe:
- What you or your team are going to do?
- How are you or your team going to do it?
- What resources are needed? and
- What is the time frame to achieve the goals?
- It should inspire you into action