Earlier this month David Cummings raised this question in his blog On Startups – Why the lack of a Strategic plan?
I was meeting with Rahul Gupta, a prolific angel investor in New Delhi and he echoed very similar thoughts. Why is it that founders are not able to articulate their priorities in a simple 5 quarterly targets format? Many a times, according to Rahul, the fact that there is no-one outside the team to whom the team/founder is accountable, makes the difference.
Why is it that rolling out a OKR system is so rare despite of clear value it delivers (ask Google). It is true that measuring everything may lead to data deluge, and since we got the ability to track and measure data in all its form, we were focused on collecting copious amounts without the slightest idea of how we will use it. But that is another story.
David Cummings wants to see a one page strategic plan before he meets with a Founder. It looks something like this :
- One line purpose
- General – fit on one line
- People – fit on one line
- One line description of your market
- One line brand promise
- No more than three sentences for the elevator pitch
3 Year Target
- One line with the goal
- 3-5 annual goals in table format with the start value, current value, and target value
- 3-5 quarterly goals in table format with the start value, current value, and target value
Quarterly Priority Projects
- Three one-line priority projects with the percent complete for each
He also prefers SMART goals – as in :
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Variation for A could be Achievable and for R – Relevant.
A few weeks back I undertook a BMC course conducted by the MaRS Discovery District,Toronto (here is a shout out to David Bowden and Tannya Cai – Thank you for running an excellent program) and found it to be incredibly useful. A Business Model Canvas, built through customer interaction and feedback and associated reserach provides incredible focus and validation to a ventures direction and clarity. If one can look at the Strategic Plan in tandem with a Business Model Canvas, it could be a formidable arsenal for any founder.
The trick is to be accountable to someone outside of your immediate team.
So when will you have your strategic plan and Business Model Canvas ready?
Link to articles by David Cummings:
Why the Lack of a Strategic Plan? https://bit.ly/2MDjhsz
Requiring a One Page Strategic Plan Prior to Meeting https://bit.ly/31mDVRc
MaRS Discovery District https://www.marsdd.com/