Strategic planning can have great results when you, as the practitioner who is guiding your small business client, help them to plan for anticipated change, and when you allow for full participation by all the involved parties in the planning process.
According to Terence Knott-Craig, the guest on the recent episode of the SEDA, IBASA & EPI Webinar Series, the important consideration is not which tools or frameworks you use in creating a strategic plan, but rather the ability to anticipate change and ensure participation by everyone in the planning process.
Knott-Craig is Chairperson of the Institute of Business Advisors Southern Africa (IBASA) and works with small business owners through the Springboard Academy as “Transformational Coach” and “Hope Engineer”, where he guides them in the design and implementation of strategic plans that are future-fit.
IBASA Chairperson and “Hope Engineer” from Springboard Academy, Terence Knott-Craig, showed during the CPD Webinar how strategic planning can succeed by facilitating participation and guiding the team in anticipating change, rather than looking back.
Strategic planning does not need to be complicated, Knott-Craig said. “It is creating a plan to move you from where you are now to where you want or need to be in the future; it is a plan of action, designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim,” he said.
There are many frameworks and models available to use in developing a strategic plan, but the problem is, Knott-Craig said, that practitioners often use a tool they are familiar with, rather than ask what the best approach would be for the client. “In too many cases the client is focussing on understanding the planning model, rather than the conversation that is needed to identify what must be done to get the business to the place they want to be,” he said.
<< WATCH THE WEBINAR HERE >>
Knott-Craig said he prefers a straight-forward strategic planning process where he follows three basic steps in guiding his clients:
- Anticipate change,
- Analyse and create plans for this change, and
- Implement and monitor the plans for this change.
He offered webinar attendees insight into nine ingredients that he makes sure is present when doing impactful strategic planning. The needed ingredients are:
- A desire to change that is greater than the discomfort of staying the same;
- Determination to look forward, more than the temptation to look back;
- Everyone’s participation, and no criticism of ideas;
- A desire to listen to each other in a way that ignites the best thinking;
- A facilitator that asks probing questions for understanding;
- No distractions, not even a flip chart;
- A scribe who is able to project the ideas into actions;
- A small team to draft the strategy into well organised next steps; and
- A conviction and determination to implement the plan agreed on.
In using these ingredients it is the job of the practitioner to facilitate the planning process. Knott-Craig explained that this entails setting the scene and objective of discussion, ensuring everyone is comfortable and heard in the discussions, guiding the discussion back to the topic at hand, and ensuring that everyone respects each other’s thoughts and ideas. Good facilitation is not dictating what to discuss or dominating the process; it is about creating the space for ideas to grow into plans for taking the business forward to a future different from today’s realities.
The rate of change, Knott-Craig pointed out, accelerated significantly over the past decades to such a degree that the average business life cycle is only 3 years in 2019. Research shows that in the 1980s the average life cycle was 75 years or longer, allowing for long periods of predictability in planning. In 2005, this average life-cycle was 15 years.
“We cannot plan based on an expectation that the future will remain similar to the environment of today. We have to add a step in strategic planning where we start with anticipating change and stop focussing on the past,” he said.
“It is like driving a car, where we mostly look through the front window to anticipate what is coming up ahead, while occasionally glancing into the back-view mirror to make sure we take into account what is behind us.”
- To join the upcoming CPD webinar click here: << https://webinar.the-epi.org >>.
- By attending this episode of the SEDA, IBASA and EPI Small Business Development Practitioner Webinar Series, you will earn credits to count towards your CPD requirements.
- Christoff Oosthuysen is the webinar host, Founding CEO of the Entrepreneurial Planning Institute (EPI), and General Partner at Seed South Capital.