Often organizations will act based on moves by the competition, changes in the environment or new opportunities. These actions may not always be in keeping with the long-term objectives of the organization.

In an earlier blog I gave the example of a young entrepreneur that had a business that installed Christmas lighting for homes for the holiday season. His long-term goal was to grow the lighting business to the point where the capabilities and reputation allowed him to be a major provider for concert and event lighting.

Faced with the need for revenues in the off-season this entrepreneur thought that a possible extension for the business was home landscaping and yard services. While this would have met the short term cash needs of the organization it would might have led to a different focus and prevented the company from focusing on the goal of providing lighting services for concerts and similar events.

One of the best ways to keep a business targeted is to have a Mission and Vision statement that is understood by everyone in the organization.

A Mission statement describes why an organization exists and what it hopes to accomplish in broad terms. As an example Coca Cola has as its mission statement:

                To refresh the world...
                To inspire moments of optimism and happiness...
                To create value and make a difference.

A vision statement describes how the organization will fulfill the mission. This statement shows how value will be delivered to company stakeholders (employees, shareholders, contractors etc.), collaborators (vendors, suppliers, support service providers) and customers.  Alex Chernev, describes the areas where these group values intersect in his book, The Marketing Plan Handbook, as the Optimal value proposition.

The Vision statement describes this optimal value proposition. Coca Cola’s Vision Statement is as follows:

                People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
                Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people's desires and needs.
                Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value.
                Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.
                Profit: Maximize long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
                Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization.

Even great companies can entertain actions that are not in keeping with the mission and vision that define the long-term objectives. Coca Cola’s then CEO Doug Ivester mentioned the possibility of using vending machines that would increase the cost of a soft drink as the temperature increased. This didn’t “fit” with the mission, vision or the company image, as it was perceived by the public. While this approach was never implemented, it raised such uproar that it ultimately became a cause for Mr. Ivster's resignation.

A checklist I have used over the years has helped keep the organizations I have led focused on finding short-term actions that supported long term goals defined by the mission and vision statement.

The checklist is shown below:

1.    Accreditation requirements – Does the action meet industry and legal standards?
2.    Length of project – Can the action be implemented in an acceptable time frame?
3.    Accommodate systems – Does the action make use of current systems or will new ones need to be developed?
4.    Fit Image – Does the action fit the image the firm wishes to project?
5.    Resources – is the action resource and capital intensive?
6.    Gateway capacity – Does this product lead to the possibility of new products or businesses being developed?
7.    Negative Gateway capacity – Does this action have the potential of damaging image or operations of the organization?
8.    Customer acceptance – will the customer accept this product/action over others offered in the market? 1
9. Profitability - Does the action generate enough value to provide the company with a profitable operation?
This checklist addresses the value collaborators, customers and stakeholders by measuring proposed actions against potential resource use, company image, and the ability to enhance growth and prevent negative consequences.

The best advice I have to offer CEOs and strategic planners is to begin with a well thought out mission and vision statement to guide strategic planning and to use a checklist designed to keep the firm focused on long term objectives defined by the mission and vision statement.

The process described in my blog offering a strategic marketing planning tool should use the checklist process when defining strategic objectives and strategies.
Also the process describing a tactical planning tool should use the checklist process when considering tactics and implementation programs.

If you would like more information or would like GWR Research to conduct a strategic planning training session for your company, email me at gary@gwrresearch.com.

Finally, the Alexander Chernev book gives a good example of how to develop a marketing plan. My new book , Developing Successful Marketing Strategies, introduces the planning tools to support the marketing plan and provides approaches to discover innovative strategic approaches.


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