There is no better feeling for a business owner or manager than knowing that everyone on the team is on the same page, not only about what the company plans to achieve but how and why as well. And what better way to get your team on the same page than by putting those objectives down, quite literally, on a single page?
Legendary business coach Verne Harnish includes the one-page strategic plan as one of the essential building blocks of any fast growth company in his 2002 book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm. Harnish advises business owners to schedule quarterly planning meetings in which they establish no more than five top priorities for the coming quarter, as well as re-establish longer-term goals for the year and targets for the next three to five years—all of these written down on a single piece of paper. This one-page plan also should spell out the company’s core values, key capabilities, critical people and processes, actions, strengths and weaknesses. (A template for Harnish’s one-page strategic plan can be downloaded from gazelles.com.)
Instead of a complex, multi-page planning document full of charts and graphs that usually ends up in a drawer, the one-page strategic plan becomes a constant, easy-to-understand reminder to the workforce of where they need to focus most of their energy in the near term. And when planning time comes around again, it becomes what Harnish calls “a simple but effective quarterly appraisal system.”
Barry Jinks, president and CEO of Vancouver-based Colligo Networks Inc., is a firm believer in Harnish’s one-page strategic plan approach and believes it is the guiding force that keeps Colligo on a solid growth track.
I like the simplicity of the one-page strategic plan, because it puts rigour in the planning process,” says Jinks. “It really forces you to think about what you are doing on a regular basis, and to refocus again and again on what’s important.
“The other great thing about the one-page strategic plan is that it is repeatable,” he says. “Eventually, the plan becomes the rhythm of the company.”