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Small Business Strategic Planning Using the Grove Model: Step 4 – Developing Your Story
Posted by Lagerquist Accounting & Advisory
The Grove Strategic Visioning Process is a methodology for strategic planning that is ideal for the needs of growth-oriented small business owners. It can help drive the essential changes that will benefit you and the future of your business. The five-step process offers a detailed approach to planning for the future. Success of the process depends on how well employees and management understand the vision and plan.
In previous installments of this series, we’ve covered the first three stages of the Grove Strategic Visioning Process: examining your history, mapping the context, and creating your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) matrix. In this article, let’s explore the fourth step: developing your story.
What Does It Mean to Develop Your Story?
At this point in the Grove Strategic Visioning Process, you have a very sharp and detailed picture of the history, context, and current environment in which you need to operate effectively. In this step, it’s time to take all of that into account and write the story you want for the future of your business. This narrative, which the Grove model refers to as the cover story vision, is designed to enable a literal visualization of your intended future.
The cover story vision helps cultivate opportunities by first looking at the past, present, and future, and then engaging the group in developing its own vision. It is an imaginative exercise where your team envisions yourselves on the cover of a magazine. You build out your story in parts, using the different elements of a magazine cover as a basis. The exercise gets your group dreaming up ideas about what you really want and what success means to you. It helps bring out the essence of what you want to become.
What Does a Cover Story Vision Entail?
Creating a cover story vision is about pure imagination. The purpose is to get everyone to think expansively around an ideal future state for your organization. It is an exercise in daydreaming. The object is to envision a future state for your organization that is so amazing it landed you on the cover of a reputable magazine. Pretend that this future is already in place and that mainstream media is focusing on your company. This exercise encourages you to think big — and it also plants the seeds for a future you may not have considered before.
Elements of a Cover Story Vision
Before your meeting, draw out large-scale templates of a magazine cover with an open layout. As you continue, you will fill out the following elements of the layout:
- Cover: The cover summarizes your vision and future state.
- Big Headlines: Headlines present the main accomplishments and progress points you intend to achieve.
- Sidebars: Sidebars feature key innovations you plan to implement and highlight along the way.
- Brainstorms: Brainstorms document initial ideas for the cover story.
- Images: Images help support your content with illustrations.
- Quotes: Quotes are a fun way to further support content and get creative.
How Does the Exercise Work?
The exercise works best in groups of four or five, so break your team up if necessary. Tell each group to spend five quiet minutes imagining the best-case scenario for their company — and then taking that scenario one step farther. Each team member should imagine their own story before the group works together on one. Then have each group brainstorm to generate the “story of the year” and populate the template with their own unique ideas.
The cover story is a sensational story about your organization that showcases what you want to accomplish in the coming years. Your big headlines will draw attention to the finer points of this big-picture goal — think of some milestones you might have achieved on the way. Use the sidebars to feature innovations that helped get you to the end goal. And images and quotes are fun ways to embellish your imagined goal.
Ask each group to present their vision by sharing what they imagined and all of the supporting elements. Look for common vision themes and areas of agreement across the different groups. Ask for observations, insights, and concerns about the future state.
Benefits of Creating a Cover Story Vision
This exercise is all about creating the wildest dreams for your organization and imagining they have already happened. It helps your team members imagine your successes with enthusiasm and to act as though they’ve already happened. Discovering common themes amongst team members is telling, because commonalities reveal shared hopes and also get the wheels turning for real possibilities. These ideas continue to serve as points of reference and inspiration down the road.
In the specific process of creating a cover story vision, you get to see in one place the complexity of your organization’s situation and watch your group use creativity and knowledge to gain alignment. The exercise encourages you to spring into the future and identifies the hopes and dreams of everyone on board. It is one of the best methods for making space for your team’s guiding principles and aspirations, letting them lead the way going forward.
Lagerquist Accounting & Advisory understands the importance of strategic planning and is here to offer support to small businesses. Need a hand? Get in touch today to learn more about how we are helping businesses achieve their goals.
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