What came first?

Several people have asked me what the big deal is about having a strategic plan. I believe that you need a starting point before you start planning, a resource that documents your intentions and desires.  The strategic plan is a living document that changes over time based on your experiences. The starting point for a strategic plan is your values.  The conclusion of a strategic plan is your operating plan.

In the beginning, we started with a blank page. We may have been born with some internal values, but we are easily influenced.  As we grow, we have experiences, are introduced to a culture, accumulate family traditions, and are exposed to many beliefs and religions. We all eventually merge all these elements into a set of values that we will use to mold our life. With all these variables, I can say that what works for me does not always work for you. Our influences are all different.

Once we develop a belief system, we look for reinforcement showing what we believe is right. As this bond grows, it becomes more challenging to modify your belief. A conflict may show up as we move to another culture of venture into a business. We are now faced with having to decide to change. We should be looking for information to expand our belief system while we remain aware of our existing belief system.  The concept is to accept small changes that can improve your outlook, not a wholesale replacement.

When writing a strategic plan, you combine your existing belief system, skills, and resources to form a purpose or mission. That can be for a business or a life.  Once you start to execute a strategic plan, you will be exposed to new experiences and beliefs that can suggest improvements to your plan.

The key that I take away from this is to keep an open mind. Seek new skills and experiences. Don’t be reluctant to ask for help or share your plan with others. This will create additional sources for information.  Stay focused on your plan.  Accept advice as information, not a directive.