One thing is certain, to grow is to change. When transitioning from a family led business to private equity, many management teams are faced with how to address strategic growth planning – often for the first time. Before, the exercise of “strategic planning” may have boiled down to annual planning and/or simply “do what the CEO (founder/owner/family) wants to do!”. Now with heightened pressure to deliver, management may struggle to lay out exactly how they plan to deliver rapid growth.
Why the concern? Perhaps, the firm was acquired with a clear sense of potential value but lacks a robust plan to realize that potential. Perhaps, management is unclear about the best path forward. Perhaps, management never developed the skills or confidence to effectively sort through the “good ideas” or “shiny objects” to develop a clear, focused strategic path to move forward most effectively.
We get this at Shepherd Advisors. Our 3-Step GAMEPlan strategy-building process is designed specifically for PE-backed, lower mid-market businesses whose teams are more operationally than strategically focused. They have a business to run. We meet management where they are, to strategically teach them step-by-step to focus and make key decisions that:
Cut through the “noise” of competing priorities to bring clarity and alignment to the company’s growth vision, goals, and priorities
Expedite the management team’s transition from a founder-focused to a company-focused orientation
Ensure the Board and Management get on the same page about the strategy’s direction and outcomes, and help the Board focus on how to best support the team
Develop specific management priorities, actions, and accountability through execution planning that specifies what needs to be done, by whom, and by when
Our Shepherd GAMEPlan system has three Steps:
Step 1 is working with management to Set Destination, we develop a clear understanding of business today and then create a single vision of the future the team wants to achieve. In ‘Set Destination, we gain clarity and alignment around the core capabilities and unique value the company offers, and the key trends and competitive environment that impact growth. Then we use that knowledge to craft a forward-looking vision for the business.
Step 2 is where we Strategize in earnest. We work with the team to brainstorm the universe of options and then vet and refine a shortlist of distinct growth pathways that the team believes provides the best bridge to their desired future. What follows is a working session to help the team “pressure test” the initiatives and then choose and sequence the specific initiatives that will – and will not – get their focus. Finally, we determine Strategic Imperatives - those things that must improve within the company to succeed.
Step 3 is all about Prep to Execute. Here is where we help management make the crucial shift from “strategic thinking” to “strategic doing.” The outcome of this step is that management becomes of one mind about how the strategy will be executed. This is captured in an Execution Roadmap and specific Action Plans that outline core tasks, what resources are needed, when they need to be completed, and who is responsible for getting them done.
We’ve been empowering PE portfolio companies for over ten years to realize their growth potential. When management teams get focused, aligned, and ready to execute, their performance shifts to a higher gear. When everyone knows what to work on and why, and how to support each other, it can be as if they found a new superpower.
"This project gave us confidence to take some bold moves, which
we had talked about but never acted upon."
In future posts, we will dive into specifics of the GAMEPlan process, and how we work with management to methodically build their strategic acumen and success.