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Recent Blog Articles
The Grove Strategic Visioning Process, which provides a graphical representation of a company’s strategy and vision, comprises five stages: in this article, we’ll dive into stage one, and explore what it means to build your organization’s graphic history.Read more
Strategic planning for growth-oriented small business owners can truly drive the essential changes you are most likely to benefit from for the future of your business.Read more
An effective strategic plan for small businesses includes the five key elements of a vision, a mission statement, goals and objectives, an action plan, and a score card.Read more
Unlocking the Power of Strategy in Your Small Business: The Grove Strategic Visioning Process
Posted by Lagerquist Accounting & Advisory
In our last two articles, we focused on the question of how strategic planning can be utilized effectively by small business owners, as well as exploring key components in an effective strategic plan. Now, we are ready to look specifically at a methodology for strategic planning that is perhaps ideally suited to the needs of growth-oriented small business owners: the Grove Strategic Visioning Process.
The Grove is a world-renowned innovator in the field of strategic planning and organizational development in both business and nonprofit contexts. The Grove Strategic Visioning Process is ideally suited to small businesses and can truly drive the essential changes you are most likely to benefit from for the future of your business. Let’s take a look at each stage in the process:
Stage One: Examining Your History
In order to lay the foundation for any effective strategic planning effort, it’s important to start with some background. The history of what has come before serves as an essential foundation for the efforts to come.
What’s why in the first stage we will build a Graphic History — the story of your business from its vision forward. Key questions to discuss will include the story of how the business started; what goals you pursued; and results you did or did not achieve over time.
This is accompanied by a discussion of key events, key projects, and the essential elements of the enterprise thus far such as products, services, sites, and people. Finally, this will all be synthesized to identify and focus on key learnings from this history that we can use to inform new decisions.
Stage Two: Mapping Your Context
Once we’ve framed up a solid picture of our history and the lessons learned from it, it’s time to look at the current environment. In the Grove process, we call this the Context Map. The process of context mapping involves looking at a series of interlocking components, chief among these:
- Customer Needs – How are the needs of your customers evolving and what needs are presently unmet or underserved in your market or by your own business? How can you position to more effectively align with these needs?
- Economic Climate – What are the realities of the current and near-future economic climate? Are there aspects that may be in your favor even if headwinds are strong?
- Government or Political Factors – Public policy affects every aspect of life, including the life of a small business. What regulations, strategies, programs, and opportunities may evolve from public efforts, new legislation or funding opportunities?
- Technology Factors – How can technology improve your business, in ways that better align you with customer needs and other opportunities? Can you use technology to level the playing field with your competitors or otherwise overcome challenges associated with being a small business?
- Uncertainties – What uncertainties are present in your marketplace, region, industry or the world as a whole? How can you proactively plan to minimize their risk of disrupting your business or potentially causing you harm?
For each of these, we also want to explore the trends that are developing, emerging or dominating across the board. For example, a new technology trend may enable greater efficiency in meeting customer needs but could also add a new expense if more advanced hardware or software is necessary to implement these emerging capabilities.
Stage Three: Creating Your SWOT (or SPOT) Matrix
The four quadrants of the SWOT/SPOT Matrix are well established as a critical tool in strategic planning. The two terms are interchangeable and stand for the following:
- S – Strengths
- W or P – Weaknesses or Problems
- O – Opportunities
- T – Threats
Many general strategic planning programs refer to this matrix as SWOT, although the Grove model refers to it as SPOT. The bottom line is that an effective SWOT/SPOT exercise allows you to organize insights against an X/Y axis as follows:
- Things that are internal advantages of your business represent Strengths.
- Things that are internal risks or challenges in your business represent Weaknesses (or Problems).
- Things that are external advantages your business can take advantage of representing Opportunities.
- Things that are external risks or challenges your business needs to consider represent Threats.
In this way, the SWOT/SPOT process gives you the ability to not only identify plusses and minuses, but it also aligns them clearly between internal and external factors. This is essential as we prioritize actions because an internal strength that aligns with an opportunity is a clear priority, just as an internal weakness or problem that aligns with an external threat likely needs immediate attention.
Stage Four: Developing Your Story
By now, we have a very sharp and detailed picture of the history, context, and current environment in which we need to operate effectively. Now, 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.
Key elements include a cover that summarizes your vision and future state; big headlines that present the accomplishments and progress points you intend to achieve; and sidebars that feature key innovations you will implement and highlight along the way. These are further supplemented by brainstorms, images, and quotes that bring the story of your vision for the future of your business to life.
Stage Five: Selecting Your Bold Steps
Perhaps it’s fitting that we’ve arrived at the fifth and final stage of the process as it’s time to create a plan of action that will directly lead you toward turning your cover story vision into reality over the coming months and years.
In order to achieve this, we’ll begin with the core MVV or Mission, Vision, and Values of your business — and of you as the owner or leader of the enterprise. Once those are established as the overarching theme, we’ll select five bold steps — think of them as significant but entirely achievable leaps forward for you and your enterprise – that will comprise the core of your new plan of action. In addition, we’ll examine the challenges as well as the supportive trends that will need to be considered as you work toward achieving each of these bold steps.
As you can see, the Grove process is extremely thorough but also highly visionary, and this is rooted in the fact that if you can see the direction you want to pursue, you’re much more likely to successfully embark upon that path of opportunity. By focusing on visualizing your future and placing it in a realistic but also highly energizing context, the Grove Strategic Visioning Process can serve as an extremely robust and powerful cornerstone for your future as a small business owner.
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