Collector - July 2020 - 19

with The Wilber Group in Normal, Illinois.
"You want those who can make decisions
and have a different perspective. We don't
only want operations, but also compliance,
the personnel side and the client side."
After slicing and dicing all available data
and department feedback, the strategic
planning team should develop goals that
guide every aspect of the company's work
for the year. The strategy should support the
company's financial goals, and every project
should tie directly to at least one of the goals.
Many companies also use the strategic
planning process to review and update their
mission statement to ensure the plan and
statement don't conflict. Fleming suggests
making sure the mission statement is
personal to the company and not just words
on the wall that could apply to any company.
"On the TV show 'The Office,' Dunder Mifflin
has a mission statement that could apply to most
companies," Fleming said. "It pertains to service,
quality and team members who enjoy their roles.
You could tack it on to most companies."
To develop a meaningful mission, Fleming
suggests evaluating the company's values,
passions and dreams. The statement should
set the company apart from others and focus
on its skills, abilities and values. Wilber
Group's mission statement, for example,
discusses providing excellent net return,
ongoing education, well-defined clientpartner requirements and expectations,
innovative responses and fostering a
community focused on excellence.
"We include those things that we do really
well," she said. "If you're going to make a
meaningful mission statement, consider
what abilities you have and what you're truly
passionate about."
Once the plan has been established,
frequent plan-specific communication helps
keep priorities top of mind and reminds
employees how their work contributes to the
company's success.
"There are a lot of aids that can be created
to assist with communication, like corporate
strategy maps," Glidden said. "That sort of
tool can reinforce where each area fits and
how the activities that are performed every
single day contribute. Strategy maps also help

COLLECTOR 07.20

convey how an agency is working toward
their overall mission and vision. Posting those
throughout the building along with reminders
about why the agency is in business and
why employees are such a valuable part of it
reinforces the plan in a very positive way."
No matter how much a company plans,
they are unlikely to predict every possible
bump in the road. When developing plans
for 2020, nobody foresaw the COVID-19
pandemic and resulting disruption to
"business as usual." When faced with an
unexpected challenge or a significant shift
in business conditions, companies should
revisit their plan and adjust.
For Williams & Fudge, the unexpected
change to the business environment caused
by COVID-19 actually increased the speed at
which it has tackled some of its goals.
"As a result of the pandemic, we've really
gotten back to the basics," Williams said. "Team
leaders have been able to focus on improving
operational efficiencies-a big part of our
plan-rather than disagreements between
employees and some of the HR issues that come
with everyone being in the office together."
The new remote working environment
resulting from the pandemic also led to quicker
work on communication goals than would
have occurred otherwise. Williams & Fudge
implemented new communication tools and
practices that were part of the plan but became
a higher priority when COVID-19 precautions
necessitated a new approach to doing business.
Making strategic planning a truly
meaningful process and not just an exercise
done out of obligation helps drive individuals
and departments to work toward shared goals,
holds everyone accountable and ultimately
helps ensure the agency's longevity.
"Businesses in our industry are not
playing a finite game that has a winner at
the end, like chess," Fleming said. "This is
an infinite game where companies are either
ahead or behind, but the ultimate goal in
an agency is to continue to exist. Strategic
planning looks at the future and how to
make sure that happens."
Tim Dressen is a communications consultant
and former editor of Collector magazine.

1
2

Focus on strategy,
not just tactics.

Effective planning
requires participation
from the entire company,
consistent reinforcement
and ongoing reevaluation.

3

Is your plan flexible
enough to adapt to
unexpected challenges?
(Hello, COVID-19!) Be
prepared to revisit it and
adjust as needed.
19



Collector - July 2020

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