Now that we’ve covered visioning and innovative thinking, planning skills, and analytical and critical thinking skills, as a part of your business plans for the upcoming year. Let’s take a look at a couple of other competencies critical in the strategic and operational planning process:
Decision making is something that happens every day no matter if you’re a business owner, leader, or employee. As a leader you are accustomed to making the big decisions for the business. The decision to implement a new and improved strategy for your business should be made with much research, thoughtfulness and care, especially in response to the effects of the pandemic.
Practice self-care- Think through important decisions when you are well rested, clear-headed, open-minded and have the energy and motivation to dedicate to this important task.
Take your time- Making sound decisions requires thinking clearly and logically, which takes time. When we are in a rush to make important decisions, you may jump to quick conclusions that can be full of biases or emotions, rather than carefully thinking through the facts and information.
Seek Different Perspectives- Often we become so entrenched in a situation we develop tunnel vision. Reviewing your business strategy with those closest to you, such as your employees, your peers and your own leader is a best practice. Also, if needed seek 3rd party expertise and input. Perhaps this is an industry expert or someone in your own personal network to consult with.
Practice Openness- When making important decisions, it is helpful to stay open to the facts and potential outcomes, even those you don’t want or like. This mindset can help you avoid making decisions that “feel” good in the moment but don’t have the longer lasting impact you desire to have.
Double Check- Make sure your plan isn’t a band-aid. It should be a holistic solution that gets to the root of the issue. Make sure the data you used to develop your plan is accurate. If it is, then consider if the data sufficiently supports your plan. Lastly, ask yourself if the plan reflects the mission and core values of your business.
Comprehensive Problem Solving
Problems are ingrained into the very fabric of every business. The sole reason most businesses exist is to solve problems for their customers. Additionally, with so many interacting parts (employees, customers, the competition, vendors), the very act of running a business requires strong problem-solving skills. So, if you’re preparing to implement a strategic plan for the upcoming year, sharpening your problem-solving skills is critical.
The first key to effective problem-solving is a positive attitude. In many cases, problems identify areas of your business that need attention or tweaking. They’re often opportunities for improvement in disguise. The second key is to familiarize yourself with the common areas where problems arise and understand why past initiatives have failed. Examples may include: complicated plans, partial employee commitment, unwillingness to change, lack of accountability, and the right mix of talent in your organization.
Unfortunately, knowledge of common trouble areas and a positive attitude aren’t enough to tackle all problems- especially complex ones. These issues require carefully crafted solutions.
Tips for Problem-Solving
Here are a few helpful tips to help you develop comprehensive solutions to business problems:
Define the Problem
We’re all used to reactive problem-solving. However, the quick-fix solutions resulting from this type of solution seeking is not always useful. Some issues, like those stemming from major procedural changes from a new strategic plan require special attention. Acquire all the information necessary by asking questions of employees dealing with the new procedure as well managers of these employees. Use critical thinking skills to clearly define the problem.
Explore the Problem
To come up with a solution that effectively solves a complex problem, try exploring the problem from multiple angles. A few examples are cause-and-effect diagrams, flowcharts, and responsibility charting that help get to the root cause of the problem. Consequently, exploring with these techniques will allow you to pinpoint bottlenecks creating the issue. You also may identify other opportunities for improvement.
Taking action contains many of the points outlined in my blog about planning, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, and measuring progress. Furthermore, things especially important to act on include getting input from concerned teams about executing the solution, having crystal clear communication about roles and responsibilities and accountability to achieve the desired outcomes.
With effort, this is where you can find silver linings from your problems. After successfully solving the problem, take time to reflect. Ask yourself the following questions: What have you learned about your team from working through this solution seeking exercise? What did you learn about the strengths and limitations of each employee? Can something be done to improve communication and trust? How do we ensure the issue doesn’t occur again in the future?
The decision to move forward with your strategic plan needs to consider every aspect of your business. Make sure the decision is made involving the right people, accomplishes the right goals, solves the anticipated problems and has an effective method of measuring and monitoring the results. If you’d like to discuss ways to strengthen the decision-making process in your business, contact me.