Remember, the primary benefit of strategic planning isn’t just the plan itself. It’s the result of what happens when stakeholders come together, often for the first time, to work as a team.

This past Monday, in Part 1 of 5, Initiation and Discovery, I introduced you to the pooch in the illustration above, and invited you to think of him as your team, and to think of the statue as your company. As you can see, he’s gathering data. (You can read the first blog here.)

Today we look at Phase Two: Baseline Assessment

From the perspective of pure pleasure, a term that most people have never associated with strategic planning, this phase is my favorite. And why is that? A very good question! Because in Phase Two, there is invariably low hanging fruit to be harvested. And it comes from the interviews with key stakeholders.

In a perfect world, this group of stakeholders includes current and past employees, current and past customers, board members (if you have them) and anyone else with a stake in the success of the company. As instructive as all of the interviews are, it’s the ones with current and past customers that I find the most enlightening, and usually because of their simplicity:

“They finished the project, and then never contacted me again. I had two additional projects, but their lack of interest turned me off.”

“They never told me that they had expanded their product offering. I would have purchased from them, but I didn’t know that they now carried what I needed.”

“I get that we’re all busy but take me out for a cup of coffee a couple of times a year for no other reason than to connect with me.”

“All they have to do is call. I have work waiting.”

Inevitably, this allows me to recommend how we can quickly harvest said low hanging fruit. Not only is this appreciated by the client, but it demonstrates to stakeholders that your company listens and responds. This is also a time to analyze and report trends, and we integrate past performance data into the assessment along with the interview results, to provide the most accurate picture of what’s so at this moment in time.

In the last blog, I said the honeymoon wouldn’t last. In the next blog, Vision and Strategic Goals, you’ll find out why.