How Time and Attitude Affect a Fleet’s Strategic Plan

Imagine sending a fleet driver out with no route to follow, no target destination and no arranged stops along the way. The driver wouldn’t know where to go; even if he or she took a vehicle out and returned later, you wouldn’t know if the job was successfully completed. With no direction or goals, this aimless excursion would be a waste of time and resources.

Companies and organizations need strategic plans in the same way fleet drivers need routes. If you’re responsible for strategic planning in your organization or you’re on a team that contributes to a plan, your mission is critical. Two key factors in your success will be time and mindset.

Before jumping into strategizing, take time to objectively analyze the current situation. SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis is one common way to read the landscape. Whether you use SWOT or another method, it’s important to focus on the work climate that exists now, not what it might have been in the past, or what you wish it could be.

To attain a high-level look at the forces impacting your company, rise above the day-to-day operations management details for a while. As you review where your company is headed, avoid getting bogged down with fixes for short-term problems. These routine maintenance issues can distract from the bigger vision. If you can’t delegate them to someone else, make a list of these near-term problems, then set that list aside so you can give your full attention to more overarching concerns. Remember, tactics happen naturally; strategic planning requires focus and commitment.

Don’t just count on your viewpoint: Ask people on your team for their insights, as well. If you find it impossible to make time for this exercise, consider hiring a consultant to weigh in.

Once the big picture is mapped out, it’s time to begin planning. You’ll find plenty of information on strategic plan nuts and bolts online, but don’t shortchange the role of mindset.

When planning, try to:

  • Be open to new ideas. Jack Welch, the CEO of GE, urged executives to focus on the value of an idea, not who contributed to it. Does your strategic plan include input from a wide swath of your company’s staff, or are you basing goals and strategies solely on what the executives suggest? People closer to clients or customers may be able to feel shifts better than you can. And the front-line crews know what works every day and what doesn’t.
  • Be detached. The best plan accepts reality and looks objectively at all the elements — even the long-term roles and responsibilities of those creating the plan. Could you stand behind a plan that phases out your role if that would be best for the company?
  • Have the attitude of a beginner. Your past experience led you to your current role, but is it blocking you from trying something new? Beware of the “we’ve tried that before” trap. There is always something new to learn. Allowing yourself and your team to fumble humbly through the unfamiliar can lead to breakthroughs.
  • Stay flexible. The plan sets out goals and paths to follow based on what the planners know now. Over time, be willing to challenge the plan given changes in the marketplace.
  • Go all in. If you don’t believe wholeheartedly in the goals of your strategic plan and your company’s ability to reach them, you won’t be able to inspire others.