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The conversations for 2016 planning are well underway, and it is an important time to step back and consider how the organization can be approached differently – from business profitability to growth and innovation.

Look to the future from two vantage points:

The first view is to look back over the past year and to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Then, secondly, with a very broad look, create the business vision for three years forward. This is particularly important when considering where to invest in the upcoming year. Those are the investments that need to be made now in order for them to pay off three years down the road and allow the business to be where you want it to be at that juncture. Bring together and reconcile the two views of the rolling 3-year plan plus the current year’s performance. Always have a critical eye toward the competition so that you can spot the potential for disruption. And, of course, keep a pulse on your customers and their evolving needs so that you can continue to meet and exceed their expectations.

Here are a few key considerations when approaching your go-forward vision, and your 2016 business planning.

Invest wisely: It goes without saying that investment is a critical part of planning, be it investment in human capital, technology, or new processes to name just a few. Choose your spots — invest new funds or harvest your existing investments wisely. It’s important to balance the two so that you don’t cause too much disruption in the organization and not try to do too many new initiatives at once.

Innovate: Let’s face it – change is hard, but innovation is critical. Innovation is often viewed as a technology play so make time to connect with others and listen for what the new technologies are and how businesses are leveraging them for success. There are plenty of examples of how a new technology brought into a business by someone with a fresh perspective found a new solution to solve an existing problem or created something new for the marketplace.

Leverage holistically: As you plan for new technology, think about how best to embed it and make it part of the company’s DNA. Spread the technology throughout the organization. Have your leaders ask for key business outputs leveraging the new technology so that everyone gets comfortable quickly. Don’t silo your opportunity, but rather embrace it and leverage it holistically across the business.

Digitally transform: Digital disruption is one of the most powerful forces in today’s business. Every business leader should be evaluating transformative digital opportunities to better serve external customers or to drive a better cost model. Consider your end customer and ask yourself if there are ways to innovate and leverage a digital solution to deliver a better customer experience. Or, look at your internal business functions and evaluate opportunities to leverage technology to drive increased productivity or transform operating costs within the business.

Be open to see the hard stuff: As business leaders evaluate their business performance and look to the future, they always need to be open to seeing the new realities and be willing to drive necessary change.
Sometimes the direction for change is not clear. Past success does not necessarily create the right recipe for the future. Good business leaders shine by being open to the signals sent in the marketplace, from their competition, and from their customers, and then setting new direction based on those signals.

These five critical tips for your business planning process are part of the thinking needed to achieve in-year and long-term strategic market value. Contact us to discuss the best approach for transforming your business in 2016 and beyond.

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