If only strategic planning was as simple as it sounds. Leaders in the construction industry benefit from the action of strategic planning in addition to a mindset of strategic planning. Together, these components set the stage for sustainable organizational health. A strategic plan cannot happen in a vacuum; rather, it’s an integral part of a construction company that understands the need for driven growth.
A Mindset of Strategic Planning
A leader who leverages strategic planning in the organization understands the connection and value of active leadership, an ethical foundation and a forward focus. These three elements are critical elements of the mindset of strategic planning, which directly shapes the action of strategic planning.
1. Active Leadership
Executives must realize the value of the relationships they have with team members and followers in the organization. C-suite executives benefit the construction company by cultivating lasting relationships within the team. This active relationship allows executives to build trust with the team, learn what motivates each person and allows the executive to have credibility with those they are leading. It takes time and energy on behalf of the executive.
The construction industry is fast-paced and always evolving, which means the executive must make a specific effort to develop this relationship and hold active leadership throughout the life of the organization. As James Kouzes & Barry Posner write in The Leadership Challenge, five practices for exemplary leaders include: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart.
2. Ethical Foundation
As leaders looking to shape the future of the business with strategic planning, ethics plays an overwhelming role in ‘what’ and ‘how’ that direction is determined. Not only is it critical for leaders to have a firm ethical foundation, but an ethical foundation must be conveyed organization-wide. This guides the behaviors and thoughts of the team to ensure the team is working from that same foundation—as this ethical foundation is influential in the decision making process.
Though specific values and ethical standards may vary from organization to organization, they should not vary within an organization. Leaders must hold ethical standards and influence a culture that emphasizes the identified ethics.
3. Forward Focus
Another critical element of the mindset of strategic planning is a forward focus. Construction executives lead organizations into sustainable, long-term success with a focus on forward thinking. This requires innovation and continued development of technology, human resources development, market understanding, customer service and more. Every division and business segment must embody and be guided by a perspective of how to succeed in the future.
The Action of Strategic Planning
There are countless frameworks, guides and step-by-step processes for how to facilitate strategic planning in an organization. It is not a new concept. However, the construction industry is a unique industry; there are countless geographic markets, business segments, industry types and more that very easily create a complicated matrix for leaders to navigate. Knowing that this matrix requires serious strategic planning for long-term growth, consider the value of the following elements in this process.
Understand how the organization delineates different aspects such as product types and market types. Depending on what the end product or service specifically is, this will vary. However, executives must lead the organization by identifying and clarifying the target segments. This impacts every department from operations to customer service to business development.
2. Business Development Execution Plan
Key to the action of strategic planning is a forecast and business development execution plan. This forecast must account for each business segment. If leaders do not plan for success—specific success—there is no way to measure quantifiable results once the initiatives are complete.
Regardless of how the organization segments the business units, creating a business development forecast is necessary for a forward, planned approach to what the organization will evolve into over the course of the plan. This accounts for sales territories, new market development, market share acquisition and profit targets.
3. Resource Alignment
Regardless of how well-segmented and how well-planned, without the proper resources leaders will not see the greatest success. Resources include capital and operations capabilities as well as further human capital. With proper data analytics, it is not difficult to quantify capital requirements and production requirements for new strategic initiatives.
However, when construction leaders look at human capital, leaders must consider the additional requirements needed in the production of the product and service. More so, leaders must consider whether the organization needs more support, including sales staff, R&D engineers, QC employees and customer service professionals, to support the new strategic effort. As Liz Wiseman writes in Multipliers, leaders who attract talent provide opportunities and encourage ownership to multiply the talent of the team. This is critical for leaders and executives must know the team and identify strategic necessity for increasing human capital.
4. Customer Relationship
Another critical element of the action of strategic planning is the customer relationship. This strategic plan must also include the customer relationship, including the basic what, why and how questions were answered. Does the plan require a new external communications plan? Does the plan require a shift in a customer service mindset within the organization? Does the plan require an evolution in the quality and complaints process? Evaluate all the touchpoints the organization will have with customers throughout this execution plan.