Think of a few car companies you’re familiar with. Now think of how each one of those car companies sets itself apart from the others. Do they specialize in luxury? Are they for the adventurous off-roader? Are they made for families?
Every car company has spent significant resources developing their brand and deciding exactly how they’re going to present themselves to the world. None of them try to be everything to everyone.
That’s a great lesson for your business. Nearly every team, department, and organization should build strategy around focus areas—they shouldn’t try to do everything at once.
The purpose of having a strategic plan is to assess where you currently are as a business, and help you establish how to grow and improve. We’ll show you how to build your strategic focus so that your entire business can be aligned as it moves toward fulfilling its mission.
Structure of a strategic plan
Strategic focus areas are part of a strategic plan, which is an essential part of a business. After all, without a plan, you’re setting your business up for failure. There’s no way to measure the success of your business, no clue of what your goals are, and no way to get your team moving towards a common goal.
The good news is that you don’t have to come up with a strategic plan on your own. In fact, a strategic plan requires a fair amount of collaboration to be successful.
To build a strategic plan, your team must work to define seven areas:
1. Mission - This is what your business is setting out to do. If you sell bicycles, your mission might be to sell low-cost bikes to neighborhoods. If you sell perfume, your mission might be to make people s.ell better.
2. Vision - This is the ultimate goal for your business. So if you’re a bicycle shop, your ultimate vision might be to become the most respected bike shop in the world. This vision should be lofty, but not too lofty.
3. Values - How is your business going to act in pursuit of its vision? These are the values it will exemplify. Your values may involve superior customer service or unabashed honesty.
4. Focus areas - Aha, here’s where focus areas come into play. Each of your values should have a few focus areas. These are measurable areas of focus that will ensure your values. Let’s say one of the values of your bike shop is incredible customer service. Your focus areas could be:
- Free tuneups
- Knowledgeable staff
- Able to customize any bike
5. Objectives - These define how you’re going to go about making your focus areas a reality. They should have a deadline and should be concrete. If you want to offer free bicycle tuneups with every purchase, your objective could be: “Have an in-house bicycle mechanic shop by June next year.”
6. Projects - Projects break down how objectives are going to be accomplished. How will you go about making an in-house bicycle mechanic shop? You could say something like, “Hire a team of mechanics by December” or, “Consult with contractors and begin construction on the mechanic shop by August.”
7. Key Performance Indicators - If you have no way to measure if you’re failing, how do you know you’re succeeding? KPIs are specific, quantifiable measurements that are set to align with certain objectives. Your KPIs for the bicycle shop could include numbers of new bikes sold or a certain number of new customers.
How to identify strategic focus areas
These key focus areas are an essential part of your strategic plan. Here’s how to identify them:
Define the mission of your strategy
What is it trying to achieve? What would that success look like? This is the first step before you can identify your strategic focus areas.
Know your resources
Your areas of strategic focus depend largely on your resources. Because, let’s face it, even if your mission is noble, if you don’t have resources, there’s no way you’re going to become the top shoe brand in the world. As part of your plan, identify how many resources you have to devote to the following:
It would be overwhelming and unfair to assign one person to identify areas of strategic focus. And different teams will have strategic focus areas that are more appropriate. You wouldn’t, for instance, expect your cashiers to contribute to getting the mechanic shop up and running.
It’s easy to use Lucidspark for this part. Start by holding a group brainstorming session, either in-person or remote. Then, create buckets for each of your values. Allow your team to come up with ideas for how to fulfill each of those values and add them to the board.
If you’re in a time crunch or want to provide a bit of pressure to get the ball rolling, consider setting a timer within Lucidspark. When the group has contributed their ideas to the board, take time to discuss each one. Cross out any ideas that wouldn’t be in line with your values. Get rid of any ideas that are too narrow, or too broad, in scope.
Determine main strategic focus areas
It’s likely your team came up with some great areas of focus during the above activity. But there are some constraints.
Go back to your resources and determine how many and which strategic focus areas you could reasonably accomplish. Most businesses will be able to decide on no more than six strategic focus areas.
A great way to tell if your focus areas are correct is to ask yourself if successful fulfillment of those focus areas would further or realize your vision statement. If not, your focus areas may need to be reworked.
Assignments and accountability - Who is responsible for what? On your Lucidspark board, identify which teams are responsible for which focus areas. This is useful for creating accountability. After your brainstorming meeting, you can send a link to your Lucidspark board in case your team forgets some of the details.
Decide how to measure your performance - Even the most inspiring strategic focus areas mean nothing if there’s no way to measure them. This is where KPIs come into play.
Determine how you’ll be measuring the success or impact of your focus areas. Your team should also contribute to this part of the strategic plan so they can develop KPIs they feel comfortable with and are appropriate for each focus area.
Align team around focus areas - When you’ve finalized your focus areas, take a step back and examine them. Ask your team if they feel good about the focus areas they’ve decided on. Are they motivated to work towards them? Your team should feel ownership of these focus areas, which is one of the main benefits of including them in the planning process.
Strategic focus areas are a great part of a strategic plan. By creating these focus areas, your team can start to make the connection between seemingly obtuse objectives and the impact of their everyday work. And by participating in the creation of strategic focus areas, your team can also feel they’re making an impact that will result in the fulfilment of a much bigger vision.
Are you ready to try it yourself? Conduct your strategic planning session today in Lucidspark.Start strategic planning today in Lucidspark
Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidspark.com.