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  • Sprioc, LLC.

What Stage is Your Strategic Plan at Go/Green, Slow/Yellow or Stop/Red, Personally and In Business?

As we start a new year 2023, have you thought about where you are and where you plan to go in the future, whether in business or personally? In building a strategy or a plan there are some key factors you need to consider and why implementing a traffic light approach to set goals is very important in defining goals and timelines to accomplish them.

Building a three (3) to five (5) year plan is typical in business when creating strategic plans, however in setting personal goals we might consider a shorter term such as one (1) to three (3) years. The important thing is to outline what exactly you want or need to accomplish and then create realistic adjustable timeframes to plan. This is the basic framework for strategy, the go, slow and stop assessment or traffic light analogy of the goals allows for flexibility in establishing the overall plan and to assure you can pivot at any time with unknown factors that may prevent the plan from being attainable.

Therefore, set your goals and then review them using this to determine a timeline. For example, if you are setting a personal goal related to a career and a business goal such as implementing new technology you would proceed with the green, yellow and red lights as follows.

Green lights are goals that you can move ahead with at a fast pace and accomplish with little to no unforeseen barriers or resources within one (1) year. Personally, this goal maybe to get a new position or promotion. In order to set a greenlight goal such as looking for a new job or getting a new position in the organization or looking externally if you want the same role, you may not need additional training. If you are going for a promotion this maybe following the next step in the internal career path and require speaking with a supervisor. The greenlight will be applying to the roles internally or externally to be reviewed and considered for the opportunity. It is a green light because you can typically accomplish this by going through the processes with little to no new training or with ease. In a business this could be vetting new vendors to accomplish a goal within the organization. If the organization has a process in place and relationships established, vendors could be compared and selected to implement the new technology once approved by the process and budget to be implemented and tested in a year or less.

Yellow light goals are a little trickier and need more time, resources, process and consideration in accomplishing, therefore this timeframe could be two (2) to four (4) years and may or may not be doable. It is important to analyze information to set these goals and keep on top of the process as well as challenges to determine if this is viable and then work towards achieving them. Additionally, in setting longer term yellow light goals you will think about whether you need to be very flexible or somewhat adaptable. Will the goal if for business be affected by the economy, interest or unemployment rates, etc.? Is the personal goal based on getting additional knowledge, skills or training? What challenges could prevent these goals from happening, are they contingent upon anything and is there a level of flexibility needed to get it completed? Will additional people need to be involved, are these hard goals or will they build upon the green light goals? All of this information needs to be reviewed and processed to set up longer term goals in your strategy. The yellow light approach is slower, more cautious and riskier because sometimes information is not available when the plan is written and why room for adjustment is needed to plan properly.

The red light strategic goals are those established anywhere from three (3) to five (5) or more years. The historical information of a person or business is necessary to consider when laying the longest-term goals and plans. Behaviors, patterns and cycles typically repeat in people, businesses and the economy. It is imperative to look at and assess history, data, trends and any other information applicable to the strategy which can provide some information on whether the goals can or should be set and attained. The red light approach is a stop, why because you need to think and build on a strong foundation, so if the green light does not happen the yellow light has a high probability of not happening as well and red could be out of the question. The personal goal of getting a new job can happen in a year, if the five-year plan is to change careers all together and a new certification or skill is needed the yellow must happen to get to the red light, as all lights must work in sync like traffic (patterns) to prevent an accident. Therefore, we can accomplish the red light goals we just have to move according to the timeline of the green and yellow lights yet be flexible and adaptable. In the business case, we may need to assure the capital and need is still viable in five years therefore this goal maybe implementing a new larger technology built on the first one. If there is not enough capital, business growth, interest rates then the five (5) or more-year goal(s) may not only be unachievable, but unnecessary. As disappointing as it maybe not to achieve the red light goals, this is worth keeping in mind. Part of building a strategic plan that is flexible and manageable it needs to align with unforeseen roadblocks. If you review the plan on an ongoing basis and adjust the goals, you can then accomplish goals at every stage of your timeline based on needs of where you are at that point personally and/or in business.

In closing, developing and planning are important aspects of business and personal growth. If we do not take the time build out a strong plan that is realistic and accomplishable over time, then we get stuck. Having a strong strategic plan will not eliminate challenges, it will however help to plan and prepare when setting and accomplishing reasonable goals. The business case for a well thought out and researched strategic plan will prepare a business to grow and leaders to communicate, collaborate and work well together to build the business. The personal reason to build a plan is to inspire yourself to achieve something to drive you to get to the next level. Planning is an important part of life, being adaptable and adjustable is also important because we do not always know what will happen but having a foundation can keep us positive and moving forward personally and professionally. A good plan will also reduce stress because decisions will not have to be made at once, there is a level of security with planning that builds confidence and flexibility is always key.

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