In the Autumn of 2000 I was invited to present a course on business planning for erstwhile entrepreneurs. Investment was booming. Entrepreneurs were passionate. The future looked rosy. On the day of the first presentation came the initial rumbles of the coming Dot Com Crash.The investment community has slowly recovered from the crash and is once again enthusiastically investing high tech. So, this is an ideal time to dust off the old course for the new generation of entrepreneurs, as well as strategic planners at established companies.
Part I of the course lays the foundation of strategic thinking required to create a successful business plan:
- Mission: The overall purpose or charter of an organization or business
- Vision: A very broad scheme for satisfying the mission of a business
- Goal: A broad desired result or purpose to be achieved
- Strategy: The plan or scheme designed to achieve a goal
- Objective: The specific deliverable that implements part of a strategy
- Tactic: A scheme or plan intended to meet a specific objective
For each of these definitions I provide an example based on the military tactics of Genghis Khan. I recommend sticking to less gruesome, though not necessarily less aggressive, strategies and tactics in your business plans.
A mission statement is the overall purpose or charter of an organization or business. The mission of a business is accomplished through multiple business strategies and may span many variations and changes in the goals required to achieve the mission.
- Example: I, Genghis Khan, am pre-destined to rule the world
A vision is a very broad scheme for satisfying the mission of a business. It is important for a business to have a single vision to achieve the mission of the business. The vision may be broad, but it must represent a single, consistent view of the future for the business. Goals, strategies, Objectives and tactics are all dependent on the focus the vision provides.
- Example: Use the skills of the horsemen from the Steps to overwhelm decadent and soft peoples
A goal is a broad desired result to be achieved to meet the vision and satisfy the mission of the business. A goal has a longevity that may span many variations and changes in the objectives required to achieve the goal.
- Example: To conquer the known world
A strategy is a plan or scheme designed to achieve a goal. A strategy has a longevity that may incorporate many different tactics exploited to meet multiple specific objectives.
- Example: Put fear of attack into the populace of each town
An objective is a specific deliverable that implements part of a strategy and contribute towards achieving the desired goal. Objectives may vary over time as they are adjusted to meet the needs of the strategy and respond to the tactics of the competition.
- Example: Conquer the town in the next valley with minimum risk
A tactic is a scheme or plan intended to meet a specific objective. Tactics change based on previous successes and failures.
- Example: Let survivors escape to spread fear in the next town
Much has been written and debated about the content of missions and visions, so for now I will leave that debate to the luminary pundits. However, it is widely accepted that if you can’t state the essence of a goal, strategy, objective or tactic in a sentence or two you’d better rework it.
Finally, business planning, sometimes called strategic management, is a dynamic process. A plan, its vision, goals, strategies, objectives and tactics, is a living thing that must evolve as the business environment evolves. It must evolve with the participation of the stakeholders in the business. A business plan is only valuable when it is taken to heart by each of those stakeholders.