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Old December 21st, 2009, 04:52 PM   #1
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Strategic Planning for business

Objectives, Goals & Plans.

This post is in answer to a question on business planning. I've created a separate thread in case it's of use to the wider DVinfo community.

I was first introduced to this concept about 20 years ago working for Dow Chemical - I was a lightening bolt for me and spawned my interest in Strategic Planning. I've spoken on the subject a number of times and seen it implemented (usually badly) by many organisations. If you've ever seen a mission statement on the wall of a business, you've seen an implementation of this concept.

Lets try to put it in terms of this industry:

I get hired by a client to produce a video - it could be a wedding video, a TVC, a web promo for a product - whatever.

what is my overall objective?

- to do a good job

sure, but that's too simplistic, in whose opinion is it a good job? - the clients? what if he's easily pleased - what if I'm not satisfied with it?

- to complete the project to the clients & my satisfaction

better, but how long does that take? - what if I spend 23.5 hours a day for 6 months to create a masterpiece? - the client's happy with the result & so am I - but I'm broke, I've done no other work.

- to complete the project in a timely fashion to the satisfaction of myself & the client.

okay - lets say we're happy with that - the important thing for you to understand is the process of review, challenging your statements to see if they hold up or need to be refined.

that is our OBJECTIVE
- to complete the project in a timely fashion to the satisfaction of myself & the client.

how do we achieve that ? - we break it into bits. Remember the old saying "how do you eat an elephant? - one piece at a time"


Complete the project
do it in a timely fashion
satisfy the client
satisfy myself

So my 1st goal is to complete the project - what does that mean?
I have to have an end result, a product - and to do that I have to start with remembering to charge the batteries :-)
… and take all the gear I need, make sure I get the coverage I need, allocate the time for editing etc etc etc.

I have to define the things I need to do, to plan for the completion of the project.

the fact is that we do this on a daily basis, without thinking really - but we do it. What I'm talking about is defining it - writing it down.
lets skip a bit and say we have a series of 10 detailed plans for the 1st goal. We can challenge those plans to see if they hold up - let's say they do.

If we complete our 10 PLANS we can be confident of achieving our 1st GOAL

My 2nd GOAL is - do it in a timely fashion

What's a timely fashion? for the client it's "yesterday" but for me it's an estimation based on the 10 plans I've just worked on for my first GOAL. Suddenly we have a problem -
I need to communicate with the client to make sure he understands what's involved and agrees to a reasonable timetable.

Our OBJECTIVE need revising:

- to complete the project within a mutually agreed timeframe to the satisfaction of myself & the client.

okay next goal - Satisfy the client

How do we determine that? he pays the bill? raves about our work? books us for 9 months of every year?
whatever the criteria, we need to establish clearly what they are to know that we have competed our
PLANS and achieved our GOAL.

so.. for each OBJECTIVE we have a number of GOALS, for each GOAL we have a number of PLANS (you can also call these milestones since they usually have times attached to them)

G1 G2 G3 … Gx
P1, P2, P3, P4 .. Px

If you complete each plan / achieve each milestone you will reach your GOAL
if you reach all your GOALS you will achieve your objective

it's actually a good exercise to plan at this level but the real process is taking the framework you have used and applying it to bigger things:

I want to be a successful wedding Videographer

I want to run a profitable business

I want to be a good father

The problem most organisations make is commitment - While the person at the top might believe absolutely in the process & results, as we drift down the tiers of management that belief fades into cynicism.

If you're going to do this you have to commit totally to the concept and EVERYONE that works for you has to understand & commit to the same level. One of the guys I worked with at Dow went on to manage the Philippines and he spent the 1st 6 months doing OGP's for the company as a whole AND every person within that company - down to the cleaner.

I hope I've explained the concept in a reasonable way, usually the light goes on for one or two and the rest glase over - so If one or two people get some benefit out of my ramblings I'll be happy

if you'ver got any questions - fire away.
Cheers - Paul M.

Last edited by Paul Mailath; December 21st, 2009 at 07:40 PM.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 12:58 PM   #2
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Thanks a lot for this Paul. It helps me a lot. I'm going through a transition, the last 30 years I was at "the bench" in the medical laboratory. Now I'm just starting out with my own business. It only took 4 months to get my first paying customer.

Video and computer graphics have been a hobby of mine for twenty plus years, so the technical and artistic part of the business isn't the big problem. Likewise, workflow optimization is something I'm familiar with--it meant SURVIVAL in the lab (think of the episode of Lucy and Ethel trying to keep up in the candy factory).

The business mindset is much different than the hobbiest mindset I've always had making videos. It's coming along. I'm reading a lot, asking questions, but a lot blows by me without me grasping the concepts. Your post makes sense to me. It's procedure/project oriented. I'm used to that.

Goal setting isn't there yet for me. I don't have enough experience yet in the video business to have acquired a proper perspective. One thing I've observed in my life is that gaining experience often helps to sharpen perspective.

I think I read this here on the forums somewhere: "Wisdom comes from experience, experience comes from making mistakes..." or something to that effect.

Thanks again for your post.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 10:06 AM   #3
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Good advice. The other thing that I utilyze every year this time is a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats. There's a free template at free SWOT analysis template and method, free swot analysis examples that has examples with it that you can print out and use (google SWOT and you'll find a ton of info).

We use it every year during the holidays. It gives you an opportunity to make an honest assessment of what you do well, what you don't do well, and where you have opportunites to grow. When I look back at the past years SWOT's its amazing how its kept us on focus despite the changing economy, technology and client base.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 11:17 AM   #4
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Thanks Mike for your post too. I read the link and bookmarked it. A goodly portion seems helpful to me.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 11:13 PM   #5
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That site on the SWOT analysis is pretty good - a lot of people seem to simplify the process to much and it's hard to be objective on your own.

if you're in that situation you can inlist your partner, you'll be supprised how accurate that can be (especially in pointing out your weaknesses)

I don't know that there's any magical formula, just a method that makes sense to you, that works for you. any planning is better than none.

the overriding rule is - if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Cheers - Paul M.
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