My hair is on fire today!
I’m up to my elbows in alligators.
Overwhelmed, Buried, Overloaded, Snowed, Swamped.
We’ve all heard these comments before, and we’ve all experienced too many fires and not enough time to extinguish them. But if this is a daily occurrence, a lot of these problems may be self-inflicted. They can certainly be reduced with a little strategic planning.
What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is first and foremost a management tool. Like any other management tool, its primary purpose is to assist an organization to perform better and, ultimately, achieve success. Strategic planning can help an organization focus its energies, ensure that all team members are working toward the same goals, and aid in making the course corrections when changes in the marketplace occur.
Strategic planning provides a framework that guides the choices that determine the direction of a company. Strategic planning unveils what a business is, what it does and why it does it – with a focus on the future. Strategic planning enables an organization to peak over the horizon and prepare for obstacles and changes.
The plan is no more and no less than a set of decisions about what to do, why to do it and how to do it.
Strategic Planning: Why Do It?
There are many reasons for developing a strategic plan. Planning and goal-setting have continually proven to positively impact overall business performance.
Successful Strategic Planning
- Guides choices and leads to action
- Creates a shared vision
- Is an all-inclusive process between business owners and their staff
- Focuses on an organization’s environment
- Is a key part of effective management
An effective strategic plan is a “living” document that, with ongoing monitoring and revision, serves as a compass for guiding the business through inevitable change.
What does this have to do with your Firefighter role?
Another benefit of a well made strategic plan, is Time. The idea of using planning to improve time management was introduced by Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey introduced a four-quadrant grid to illustrate how we use our time and how to better manage our time.
Covey’s system uses four different quadrants to classify tasks, relative to their importance and urgency. It is important to note that a task may be urgent, but not necessarily important. The four quadrants are:
Quadrant I – important deadlines or tasks requiring immediate attention
Quadrant II – long-term Planning, development and strategizing
Quadrant III – distractions with high urgency (Often someone else’s important task)
Quadrant IV – activities with little to no value
Reduce the number of Fires
The irony is that one can reduce the number of ‘Urgent’ items they have to deal with by spending more time doing Quadrant II items, like planning and training.
The more attention that you pay to Planning, the easier it is to deal with problems when they arise. Or, they are avoided all together, because through your Strategic Planning process, you identified potential obstacles, and you developed a strategy to deal with them up front.
With a plan you can determine if a certain activity will take you closer to your goals, making prioritization of your time easier and in many ways predetermined.
Like the old New axiom says, “If you Fail to Plan, you Plan to Burn Your Hair.”
At TAB Central Alabama we help business owner achieve more success, more quickly by facilitating Peer-Advisory Boards, and providing strategic planning advice.