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Summer’s winding down…at least in the northern hemisphere…and I’m starting to hear talks of annual planning for 2013 – along with lots of“strategic thinking” and “what if” conversations.

Of course, there’s always the critical prioritization question given all of the things you could be doing –

“What do we need to focus on NOW – and next year – to set ourselves up for success and profitability in the coming years?”…

But no matter what process you’re using to plan, here’s 3 questions to ponder as you prepare…and a tool to help make setting priorities easier!

1)    First, what Stage of Growth is your business in?

Priorities are dependent on where you are on the growth curve and Flashpoint’s Seven Stages of Growth is a great tool for helping you determine where you are AND what you should be focused on.

Are you at the Ramp up stage approaching 20 employees where your focus needs to be on profit and hiring quality people or…

…the Professional stage (somewhere between 35 and 57 folks) with the challenges in the area of putting the right processes in place and documented or…

…all the way at Visionary (Stage 7) with over 160 employees where your priorities center around people and product differentiation?

Depending on where you are, you’ll have different priorities AND leadership challenges.

2)    Second, what industry are you in and what type of strategic planning should you be doing?

There’s a great new article in the September issue of Harvard Business Review that finds that companies that correctly match their strategy-making processes to their competitive circumstances perform better that those that don’t.

Does your style need to be the classical approach or more adaptive? Check out their findings and get the right framework for your business!

3)    Third, which one of the Four Decisions (People, Strategy, Execution or Cash) have you’ve really nailed? Where have you been successful over the past six to twelve months?

One of the clients that I work with, a global manufacturer of custom machined parts has really focused on theExecution part of the Four Decisions – “Excellence in Execution” has been their #1 Thing over this past year and they’ve done a great job incorporating such best practices as daily Gemba walks and weekly tacticals into their business.  It’s made a huge difference in their numbers and effectiveness.

The BIG question that they’re considering now???

How to use their expectation setting and performance management systems to drive the practices down into the company so that they become part of the culture – not just a “fad” that fades away.

And, finally, a tool to help you answer the question:  What’s your Achilles heel?

Which one of the Four Decisions of People, Strategy, Execution or Cash is your “weak link” and needs to be focused on in 2013?

If you don’t know yours, check out our quick 4Decisions assessment …It will help you pinpoint where you need to focus your efforts – and put you on track for success!

And, get your 2013 planning process off the ground! Take advantage of our upcoming “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” Executive workshop on November 8th! It’s a great, cost-effective opportunity to get you and your team exposed to “the Habits” and set yourself up for success in the coming year!



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