“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”– Tony Robbins
The holiday season is upon us and 2024 is in sight. A new year, time for new thinking and new approaches. Do you have a defined plan to achieve specific goals in 2024?
If your organization does not have a formal process for annual strategic planning, consider a conducting a strategic assessment for your print mail operation.
When assisting clients with strategic plans to improve results, I start with a strategic assessment. The foundation step in the assessment is a SWOT analysis, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The assessment includes considerations for current capabilities, workflow process, marketing, customer communications, current staff skill set, and potential new business initiatives.
I ask clients to take a hard look in the mirror at their strengths, weaknesses, and the results of their efforts in the last 24 months. Getting to the reasons for each category takes time and commitment to reflect and consider root causes. The second part of a SWOT is considering the external factors for opportunities and threats. Outside research and customer survey data provide input to understand the impact of trends, competitive factors, and changes in economic conditions. All of these may impact the current state, as well as success with future strategic plans.
I recommend a cross-functional approach for the assessment process. In addition to the executive, production and client service teams, a robust SWOT analysis includes input from key customer departments, IT, and technical teams. With strategic planning and analysis, your operational team can define a path forward to align with the larger goals of your organization.
The methodology includes assessing:
- Data across departments defining the current state
- Capabilities and opportunities
- Business issues and challenges
- Marketing communications programs
- New initiatives and results
- Future state goals and objectives
Look Back to See Forward
The assessment includes a fresh look at past activities, strategies, and results to provide both vision and context. The last few years have created many new circumstances for in-plant operations. Likewise, 2024 will require innovative approaches to reach new goals. Growth and relevance to your organization will likely come from different sources than it has in the last 18 months.
Results Don’t Lie
The real value of a strategic assessment is clarity on what was planned, completed, and accomplished. With this perspective, leaders and managers can have a candid conversation about internal and external challenges that may impede attaining the desired future vision. With clarity and alignment, a written strategic plan provides focus and direction for all managers. It provides a defined path forward for changes so each member of your team can make better decisions every day.
Senior leaders define goals and expect managers to implement projects, programs, and delegate tasks. But often projects and programs take unforeseen turns and decisions made on the fly generate unexpected results, both good and bad.
The assessment is the pause button to ask questions.
- What did we do well?
- What can we learn?
- How can we be better?
- Are there gaps?
- Do we need new or additional resources or technology?
These questions require straightforward answers to drive effective strategies for change and operational efficiency. Creating alignment among all leaders and managers is a critical step to address how your team impacts the strategic goals for your organization. Everyone must be in alignment with goals and strategies for the coming year.
Strategic assessments enable new beginnings with clarity and energy to focus on the actions and approaches that will drive future results.
Pause, assess, reflect – then define new goals and actions.
Wishing you strategic success in 2024.
Lois Ritarossi, CMC®, is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at https://www.highrockstrategies.com/ or Lritarossi@highrockstrategies.com