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Jul 9 2015

Strategic Planning: A Concise Overview



We know that the summer is usually a slow time, but it’s exactly the right time to do some stratetgic thinking!

For example, have you ever thought about developing – and implementing – a goal-oriented business strategy? How you can communicate more effectively about your projects to win the next ones? Ways that you can develop a robust network that attracts the right prospects? If you have ever asked yourself these questions, we have the answers!

This month, we’re sharing a snapshot of “A Three-Phase Program to Fast-Track Your Design Business for Profit.” Dr. Tami Hausman participated in the panel at the 2015 AIA National Convention in May, along with Lisa Henry, CEO of Greenway Group, and Stephen Whitehorn, managing principal of Whitehorn Financial Group.


Lisa Henry is the CEO of Greenway Group. She enjoys developing strategies for architecture, design, and engineering firms that improve their business performance.


Strategic planning brings your daily actions into focus and ties them to something bigger – something that people at your firm can connect to and can get inspired by. The hardest part is always the beginning. You have to have the discipline to create the plan and give it as much attention and rigor as you would give any design project.

Your firm – and, in fact, all firms – need a Strategic Plan in order to:

  • Identify how you provide value to your clients
  • Present a vision of what your firm will look like in the future
  • Establish medium- to long-term goals
  • Define actions, accountability, and a schedule to achieve those goals

If you’re an owner or leader of your firm, then you have some serious reflection to do…especially as you get ready to prepare your plan. The key is to start out answering the big questions about your future. For example, you need to think about:

Vision development – Decide where you want the firm to be in in the long run. Answer that, and you have your Vision. And, above all, make sure that it inspires you and your staff!

Environmental scan – Analyze the state of the firm today. This process includes an in-depth assessment of the current strengths and weakness of the firm in the areas of finance, marketing, operations, professional services, and leadership. It also includes an in-depth analysis of the external forces and factors affecting the business of architecture and design, as well as the businesses of your clients.

Framework – Build an effective framework for developing a strategic plan that embeds a logic and organization into your firm. At Greenway, we use the Design Enterprise Model, which is comprised of the five elements that influence your business enterprise:

  • Marketing: How you get the Work
  • Operations: How you support the Work
  • Design practice: How you do the Work
  • Finance: How you measure and account for revenue and expenses, and how you assess risk
  • Leadership: How the firm holds and ensures its culture, succession and evolution

Goals — Create goals (or strategic initiatives). We typically help our clients to develop their goals (or initiatives) within the structure of the Design Enterprise Model. It provides a sound framework.

Action steps — Finally, break down each goal into action steps and determine who will be accountable for each specific action step within a designated time frame. Your goals essentially serve as the basic agenda for regular leadership meetings. If there is trouble executing a goal, you will know it early and provide support, or adjust your course as needed.

Share the plan – Now, not only will your people know where the firm is going, they will know how it will get there, and what role they have in moving it strategically forward!


About Greenway Group For more than 20 years, Greenway Group has served as a trusted business management consultant to leading architecture and design firms throughout the world. In partnership with its clients, Greenway develops transformational business strategies and provides confidential counsel to deliver practical insights and actionable plans.