For a lot of expansion stage companies, the first few years tend to fly by at such breakneck speed that true annual strategic planning and long term goal setting sometimes falls by the wayside.
As uSamp co-founder and CEO Matt Dusig admits, his company’s first three years have mostly centered on trying to run as fast as possible. Strategic planning, he says, has often been more of an informal practice than a rigid method of annual review.
“We have senior executives spread out over locations in Connecticut, Dallas, and Los Angeles, so if we’ve done annual planning in the past, it’s been over lunch, in the halls, or over the phone,” says Dusig. “It’s pretty rare for all of us to be in the same place at the same time.”
But Dusig and uSamp’s top executives got that chance when the company came to Boston to participate in a two-day Rapid Strategic Planning Workshop put on by OpenView Venture Partners, a VC firm that invested in uSamp last year.
There, Dusig, his fellow senior executives, and attendees from a variety of OpenView’s other portfolio companies were presented a process that laid out simple, actionable strategy maps that would help them execute annual strategic planning going forward.
Executives like Dusig were encouraged to begin transitioning their focus from the day-to-day operations of their company to monitoring the long term health of the business. To do that, uSamp examined its 2010 performance in the context of the company’s aspirations (vision, mission, and values) and the current state of its market.
The payoff for entrepreneurs like Prognosis Health Information Systems CEO Ramsey Evans was better clarity—clarity of the business’s purpose, its long terms goals, and a stronger understanding of what its management team needs to put in place to get it there.
“One of the biggest benefits of the workshop is putting a process in place that allows you to pinpoint and work toward a few very important things,” Evans says. “We’re a very product-minded company. So when we’ve thought about weaknesses in the past, everyone’s thought about the product first. This gets us above that and thinking about execution. We’ve got better clarity and greater alignment on what we’re trying to do and why we exist.”
For more information about the Rapid Strategic Planning Workshop, read the case study.
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