Stay Out of the Weeds: Strategic planning tips for your business

Published On
Aug 13, 2021

It is hard to find a book, article or YouTube video on business ownership that does not include something about strategic planning. Some are quick how-tos, while others include lengthy, soul-searching processes. Most of these resources are great at helping to define strategies for success, but provide little guidance for juggling all the balls of running a business.

Most of the construction industry leaders that I have worked with tend to be “roll up your sleeves and get it done” individuals. Some have the mentality that “No one can do it as well as I can,” and some do not trust others enough to delegate the routine tasks to keep customers happy and get jobs done. Of course, there is a time and place to be hands-on, but being in the weeds each day is almost certain to stifle growth and will most likely lead to burnout.

For some, being too hands-on is just their nature. They may have started in the field, worked their way up the career ladder, and possibly took the leap to own their own company.

There is a focus on getting things done and checking items off the to-do list. We track and see the progress we have made: we got that whole floor roughed in today, we got three bids out the door this week or we billed $80,000 this month. These, as with many others, are the tactics or the how-tos needed to accomplish our strategic goals.

Of course, I am not saying that as a leader it is not important to help give your team a push now and again or jump in the trenches with them and work to get a job done. However, you need to be sure this does not become a habit and your standard operating procedure; your staff will begin to rely on you to complete their tasks, which will not leave enough time to complete your own.

Thinking of the ‘why’

Think of your business strategy as “Why are we doing what we are doing?” Is it to grow revenue, increase profit, expand market share and then retire? Understanding the why, we can start to look at what needs doing (the tactics) and use this as a guide of what not to do.

Consider some of the principles from the book “Clockwork” by Mike Michalowicz. Leaders need to focus on what is important to our company. As leaders, we employ tactics and accomplish tasks to move the company forward and achieve goals. We just need to be sure to focus on the right ones and not get bogged down by others’ tasks.

In Firestone Consulting Group’s High-Performance Academy, we do a time-study exercise to help participants evaluate how they spend their days and weeks. Are they focusing on the right tasks, or is their day filled doing things that could be delegated or altogether removed from their workload?

The 4D Mix

In Michalowicz’s book, he takes it a step further and describes the “4D Mix” model. The 4D Mix is made up of four components: do, decide, delegate and design. The ideal 4D Mix for time allocation is 80% doing (high-value tasks), 2% deciding (helping others make decisions), 8% delegating (assigning tasks to others) and 10% designing (optimizing the business for success). When we get the mix right, we spend 90% of our time doing the tasks that only we can do and doing the big-picture tasks to take the company to the next level.

Change does not happen overnight. But by being aware of how you are spending your time and where you can make the most significant impact in your business’s success can keep the ship headed in the right direction.

Leaders need to be the guide and compass for the rest of the team. We need to climb to the hilltop and look out to the future and see the finish line in the distance while charting the course the team will take to reach the finish line.

As we look at the path to success, we can see some of the obstacles we will face and develop a plan to overcome them, but there will still be some unforeseen challenges that we will not know until we are further down the path. If our nose is to the grindstone working away, we will not see the challenge until it is too late and becomes a crisis.

Taking the time to peer up from the weeds and look out ahead of the team will allow you to see the challenges and modify your strategy and tactics to adjust and overcome obstacles and get back on the path to success as soon as possible.

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