Strategic planning time!


Entrepreneurs are passionate about what we do or we wouldn’t have taken all the risks of “hanging a shingle.” Many times, we like what we do so much we’d do it all the time, which brings two great opportunities: 1) intentionally setting aside time to look at and work on the business from the 10,000 foot view and 2) setting parameters so that the other important priorities in life don’t get what’s leftover. The latter is one of my favorite subjects, so I’ll be posting about life balance ever so often. Since 2019 is upon us, today is about stepping out of the inner workings of your passion project to work on your passion project. Those two little words make a world of difference. In is the detailed actions contributing to the plan. On is the analogy and strategy guiding the plan.

One of my favorite frameworks is Stop - Start - Continue. I learned this several years ago from a colleague at Lipscomb University. I have since used it in a variety of formats: to gather feedback from students, in nonprofit strategic planning and with individual coaching clients. I have found it simple, versatile and effective when acted upon.

  1. Ask yourself what you want to STOP doing. Questions to consider: What costs more than it benefits? What is draining too much energy? What is contributing to mission drift? We do this first because you need to free up time and space for the next three.

  2. Now, what do you want to START doing? Questions to consider: What have you been putting off until…? What is life giving that you aren’t getting to? If resources were unlimited, what would you pursue? What do you dream about but don’t feel ready for?

  3. Then, what do you want to CONTINUE? Questions to consider: Where are you most effective? When are you in “flow?” What type of projects are providing the highest return on investment?

  4. The model hasn’t felt totally right until just recently. I now add, what do you want to change? Consider asking: What were your big wins and learns of a time period (quarter or year) to nail down some things that are worth keeping if only tweaked a bit.

As a leader, I encourage you to go through this exercise periodically to make sure you are spending your effort on the things that will get you to your preferred vision. Getting some feedback from your team or personal board of directors will help give you the power of community. Typically, the more diverse the perspectives gathered, the better the analysis. Just make sure you are enlisting people who are growth minded.