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    Small Business Strategic Planning Using the Grove Model: Step 2 – Creating Your Context Map

    Posted by Lagerquist Accounting & Advisory

    Small Business Strategic Planning Using the Grove Model: Step 2 – Creating Your Context Map

    Strategic planning helps businesses agree on goals and aligned actions. With the Grove Strategic Visioning Process, companies have a proven and reliable method for charting out the way forward. The five-step process offers a detailed approach to planning for the future. Ultimately, success will depend on how well employees and management understand the vision and plan.

    In our last installment, we discussed the first step in the process–creating a graphic history. In this article, we’ll explore the second stage of the process, creating a context map of your business’ current environment.

    What is a Context Map?

    After completing your graphic history in the first step of the Grove model, everyone should be familiar with the business’ major milestones and past successes. All participants will have a picture of the company’s progress that can guide plans. The next step will involve creating a context map. During this step, your team identifies market trends and factors that affect the business. Participants will assess political and economic factors, along with technology issues and uncertainties.

    Small group work lets you put down an exhaustive list of these issues. You’ll need to identify and analyze themes and trends before discussing implications that spur action. The context map helps you develop a snapshot of your existing environment. Your team gets to envision your customer needs, along with factors that influence these needs. With the map, organizations can uncover and prepare to better leverage the dynamic relationships of their workplaces.

    Why is Creating a Context Map Important in the Grove Strategic Visioning Process?

    The context map is critical in planning as it enables dialogue about the external environment while providing a solid team-building experience. With a context map, groups can develop a shared big picture of their environment. This step lays the groundwork for breakthrough thinking and simplifies the understanding of complex situations.

    Creating a context map lets you examine assumptions and multiple perspectives, strengthening your analytical skills in the process. From the plan, your team will identify factors and trends that need long-term tracking. Context maps ensure that your business establishes a common backdrop for your strategic vision.

    Creating an Accurate and Comprehensive Context Map: Essential Elements

    A comprehensive context map keeps in mind the dynamic factors and trends that influence your business environment. Trends are forces within identifiable movement patterns, while factors are existing conditions that might be important but don’t show progressive movement. Ask relevant questions to identify factors that affect your organization without worrying about priority.

    Essential elements of the map include:

    1. Political Factors

    The political landscape influences business significantly. Accurate context maps should capture diverse political issues, from unfunded mandates to funding formula issues and accountability demands. Your maps should also account for changes to existing regulations arising from elections. Remember to factor in the potential for political gridlocks and reforms

    2. Economic Climate

    Globalization and continuing low-interest rates top the list of economic factors that you should include in the context map. An ideal map also includes the competition for tax dollars and the state of economic recovery. Capturing changing demographics and increased demand for limited resources helps you make an informed choice regarding your business projections. Encourage your team to analyze how these factors influence how you do business.

    3. Customer Needs

    Meeting client needs is a sure way of steering consistent business growth—factor in innovations and collaboration plans that guarantee continuous service delivery improvement. Understand your mandate and link up with the community to create mutually beneficial partnerships. Think about steps you can take in developing your capacity and maintain high standards. Include customer feedback from previous engagements to create customer-centric solutions.

    4. Technology Factors

    Businesses have become increasingly reliant on technology, and you’ll need to understand how technological advancements affect your business. Evaluate how you can use technology effectively along with best practices that can ease integration. Consider the influence of cloud systems on your existing solutions and your infrastructure demand in the coming years.

    5. Business Trends

    Analyze recurring events within your niche to identify the movement of trends. Your context map needs to establish trends affected by both internal and external business factors. Actively keeping tabs on sudden shifts and new developments helps in planning the future direction of your business. This also makes it easier to identify solutions that match your clients’ objectives. Business trends reveal what to expect in your market, helping you create a viable strategic plan.

    6. Uncertainties

    Running a business comes with inevitable uncertainties that a context map needs to consider. Explore how subtle changes will affect normal trends and decide how you can deal with these changes. Look at volatile trends and try to predict changes you can expect from them. Comprehensive context maps should also factor in government legislation and its impact on your market.

    Ask open-ended questions throughout the discussion and ask about insights once the process is complete. Record your themes on a flip chart and try to find patterns or connections between them.

    Final Thoughts

    The bottom line of a context map is understanding how to strike a balance between your organization’s internal and external demands. This balance ensures that you achieve greater efficiency and increased productivity within your budget.

    Do you need help creating your team’s context map? Contact Lagerquist Accounting and Advisory to learn more!

     

     

    Image Credits: Photo by tirachardz2k on Freepik

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