Tips for Annual Strategic Planning

Mark Duval, Jeremy Perks and Cindy Jensen share best practices on prepping for the year ahead

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By Emily Jones

To close out the year, AmCham China held a seminar on how to execute annual strategic planning. Held Dec. 17, the seminar featured AmCham China President Mark Duval, who recently announced he would leave the chamber in January 2016. In his two-and-a-half years as president, Duval has made a big impact, and he attributes this to strong long-term planning.

“It's important to verify where you are now, and then ask who you are trying to become,” Duval said. “Where are we today? Where do we want to get? When do we want to get there? How can we deliver value? Which aspect of our team in the organization can help us achieve this value?”

Jeremy Perks, Group Manager at Mindset Management Group, spoke on the importance of leadership and teamwork in executing strategy. “Ultimately, our clients come to us because they are driven by results,” Perks said. “Results are driven by the efficiency of the organization. This is determined by the efficiency of people. How are people leading to deliver those results? Ultimately, it is about delivery on performance for shareholders.”

Perks’ biggest tip for success for companies looking at annual strategic planning is, simply, “Don’t forget to do it.”

Both Perks and Duval pulled strategic management inspiration from versions of a quote in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you want to be, then it doesn’t matter where you go.”

Cindy Jensen, Founder and Managing Director of Boldmoves China joined Duval and Perks for a Q&A session with attendees. “The ability to execute is absolutely crucial,” she said. “It is important to look at strategy not only in context of the organization, but also industry and complementary industries,” Jensen said. For small and medium enterprises in particular, she expressed the importance of a rigorous and watchful eye around financials, so that the company is still able to invest money back into the business.

Mark Duval:

  1. Ask your team important questions. “It is important to verify where you are now, and then ask who you are trying to become,” said Duval. “Where are we today? Where do we want to get? When do we want to get there? How can we deliver value? Which aspect of team in organization can help us achieve this value?”
  2. Constantly review goals and objectives.
  3. Define measures of success.
  4. Provide real and deliverable value to customers and clients.
  5. “Having a more clear sense of purpose, understanding how to coordinate activities, realizing who drives these activities, and learning how to synchronize to achieve objectives is key [to achieving a successful strategy].”

Jeremy Perks:

  1. “Results are driven by the efficiency of the organization. This is determined by the efficiency of people. How are people leading to deliver those results? Ultimately, it is about delivery on performance for shareholders.”
  2. “It is important to spend time paying attention to what is happening in the world around you and pay attention to these [developments].”
  3. Perks used a football game metaphor to stress the importance of incorporating planning and strategy formulation into a company’s activities, and building them into the business schedule. “You might be enjoying the game so much from the sidelines, that you forget to plan ahead,” he said.
  4. Plan continuously.
  5. Engage your team to ensure better quality plans and an increased sense of ownership and commitment to achieving outlined goals.
  6. “Frameworks are helpful because you can your communicate strategy on one page.” A clear and well-defined strategy is crucial to company success.
  7. Don’t forget to plan.

Cindy Jensen:

  1. “The ability to execute is absolutely crucial.”
  2. “It is important to look at strategy not only in context of the organization, but also industry and complementary industries.”
  3. For SMEs in particular, she expressed the importance of having good rigor and a watchful eye around financials, such that they are able to invest money back into businesses.
  4. When formulating a strategy, it is importance to analyze a company’s point of differentiation, and focus on its core competencies.
  5. Spend time with customers and clients in order to both understand what is important to them and foster closer relationships.
  6. Jensen highlighted the importance of conducting a stakeholder analysis, and seeking who to talk to in advance of meetings. “Spend 80% of your time really thinking through and doing [conducting a stakeholder analysis] in advance.”
  7. When formulating a strategy, keep in mind “Executional excellence. Focus, focus, focus.”

 

Emily Jones is a Business Center Intern at AmCham China.