Strategy Planning in Your Construction Business
Strategy for Goals Planning
“There are simply no shortcuts in the long run.” Frank Sonnenberg
Mr. Sonnenberg has a good way of cutting through the hype. While there are easier ways to get certain tasks done, in the long run it is hard work that leads to the win. It is hard work to own, maintain, and run a commercial construction contracting business. Yet, understanding how to prioritize daily tasks as well as long and short-term goals is one way to lighten the load.
Now, let’s delve into what goes on between dealing with today’s daily tasks and reaching long or short-term goals. How do you prioritize the strategic steps to take in order to reach those goals?
Strategy pencil or chisel?
Before we go further, it is well to look at whether your goals and strategy should be written in pencil or chiseled in stone. There are different circumstances which apply, both from the standpoint of what you hope to achieve and your own temperament.
This article When to Set Rigid Goals, and When to Be Flexible, from Harvard Business Review explains how to approach the issue. The authors lay out the circumstances and principles quite well.
Strategy in context
The goal is the main “big thing” you want to accomplish. A strategy is the path you take to achieve a goal. Built into your strategy will be objectives. The tactics you use to reach each objective are the tools which make it happen.
Think of it this way. Say your goal is to lose weight.
Goal: Lose 20 pounds in 4 months
Strategy: A mix of diet and exercise.
- research (which food, which gym)
- purchase a gym membership
- buy smaller dinner plates
- empty cupboards of high-calorie snack foods
- replace previous foods with diet approved items
- stick to the new diet
- exercise at the gym
Gym memberships and smaller plates are objectives framed in your strategy. Gym memberships and owning smaller plates won’t help you lose weight. It is the actual tactic of eating less and exercising that moves you to the goal.
Strategy in action
Once you spot a problem in your construction company systems you can set a goal which addresses it.
Let’s say you have a crew which arrive at the jobsite only to discover they’ve left the yard with some of the necessary tools and a few pieces of important materials left behind.
And, this isn’t the first time.
You’ve spotted the problem – inefficiency.
Goal: Reach X% more employee efficiency on all projects by X month of X year.
Strategy: Discover and implement ways to ensure each vehicle leaving the yard is stocked and well equipped for each job.
Objective: Develop systems and checklists for assuring each vehicle leaves the yard prepared for each job daily.
- Transparency with employees concerning costs and lost opportunity costs due to inefficiency
- Incentives for superior performance
- Easily accessed checklists
Often as you take the steps toward your goal you discover unforeseen problems. You can meet the challenges, even change path more easily if you’ve already outlined the goal, strategy, objectives and tactics.
For example, suppose the excellent digital checklist you’ve devised for your crews frustrates them. You may push the, “it takes time to learn, give it a chance” button with your crews or you may decide paper checklists will work just as well.
Strategy you’re familiar with
You likely already use some of the thinking processes involved in this manner of reaching goals even if you haven’t formalized it. Yet, if you practice using this method in writing you’ll be better able to notice missing pieces. You’ll also be better at follow-through and corrective action.
It is our desire this 3-part series of articles (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses.
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