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Sample strategic plans, strategy is more than simply achieving business goals. it creates clarity, alignment and organization-wide engagement. we’ve assembled a handful of sample strategic plans. some are from our clients. others are just examples. all of them reflect good general guidelines and structure, which can be incorporated into your own strategy design., for profit sample strategic plans, these sample plans are based on a fictional organization. the information for our business clients is confidential..

company strategic plan example

One-Page Strategic Plan

An easy-to-read, full-color overview to help everyone visualize the complete strategy.

company strategic plan example

Company Strategic Plan

A summary of your strategic plan with strategic objectives, goals and action items.

company strategic plan example

Department Strategic Plan

company strategic plan example

Company SWOT

An assessment of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

company strategic plan example

Department Action Plan

A quick-hit summary of progress against goals and action items. Great for use at strategy reviews.

company strategic plan example

Individual Action Plan

company strategic plan example

Team Member Performance Review

Use this action plan as a performance review sheet for periodic staff reviews.

Non-Profit Sample Strategic Plans

These sample plans are deliverables for north slope borough school district. this is public information and is shareable..

company strategic plan example

School One-Page Strategic Plan

company strategic plan example

School Full Strategic Plan

company strategic plan example

School Strategic Plan with Progress

company strategic plan example

Church Sample Strategic Plans

company strategic plan example

Church One-Page Strategic Plan

company strategic plan example

Church Full Strategic Plan

company strategic plan example

Church One-Click Strategic Plan

A comprehensive report from mission through action items & includes SWOT, scorecard, roadmap & budget.

company strategic plan example

Church Roadmap

A summary of high-level goals broken out by year according to the dates established during goal.

Keystone

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company strategic plan example

Examples of Strategic Plan

Examples of a Strategic Plan to Achieve Long-Term Growth

Team Ninety, Author at Work From Anywhere

This is a comprehensive guide on strategic planning for small to midsize companies.

If you want to:

  • Move your organization in the direction you intend for long-term success,
  • Implement your plan smoothly for greater growth,
  • Use a better platform for developing a truly effective strategic plan,

… then you’ll love this guide. Let’s get started.

What’s Covered in This Guide

Click on each to jump to that section.

What is Strategic Planning?

What does strategic planning mean, what is the goal of strategic planning.

  • What is Strategic Leadership?

4 Strategic Planning Strategies

The strategic planning process [11 steps], what does strategic planning involve.

  • How to Implement Your Strategic Plan

Examples of Strategic Plans

Get your strategic planning done on ninety.

Strategic planning is the process you use to:

  • Establish and document a clear direction for your organization.
  • Identify business goals and set priorities that create growth for your company.
  • Formulate a long-term plan of action designed to achieve these objectives.
  • Determine an internal system tracking and evaluating performance.

When organizations want to, they use a strategic plan to:

  • Strengthen their operation.
  • Focus on collective energy and resources.
  • Enable leaders, teams, and other stakeholders to work toward common goals.
  • Make agreements around desired results.
  • Refresh direction and prevail over a changing or challenging environment.

Thinking strategically helps companies take the right action for more success and better outcomes. Some even call it an art.

Strategic planning is one of three essential ways to pursue important objectives for your company. When tackling challenges and determining action plans, you can think strategically, tactically, or operationally. These three thought processes often work in concert to help you create a framework that achieves your desired objectives.

  • Strategic plans are designed for multilevel involvement throughout the entire organization. Leaders will look ahead to where they want to be in three, five, and ten years and develop a mission.
  • Tactical plans support strategic plans. They outline the specific responsibilities and functionalities at the department level so employees know how to do their part to make the strategic plan successful.
  • Operational plans focus on the highly detailed procedures, processes, and routine tasks that frontline employees must accomplish to achieve desired outcomes.

The goal of your strategic plan is to determine:

  • Where your company stands in relation to the current business environment. Understand how your business operates, how you create value, and how you differentiate from your competitors.
  • Where you want to take the business based on long-term objectives such as your company’s vision, mission, culture, values, and goals. Envision how you see the company five or ten years from now.
  • What you need to do to get there. You come away from your planning sessions with a roadmap that helps deliver on your strategic objectives. Determine better ways to enable and implement change, schedule deadlines, and structure goals, so they’re achievable.

The main purpose of your strategic plan is to create clearly defined goals for achieving the growth and success of your organization. These goals are connected to your organization’s mission and long-term vision.

What is Strategic Leadership? 

Strategic leadership is how you create, implement, and sustain your strategic plan, so your organization moves in the direction you intend for long-term success. This usually involves establishing ongoing practices and benchmarks, allocating resources, and providing leadership that supports your strategic mission and vision statement.

Strategic leadership, also known as strategy execution, can employ two different approaches:

  • A prescriptive approach is analytical and focuses on how strategies are created to account for risks and opportunities.
  • A descriptive approach is principle-driven and focuses on how strategies are implemented to account for risks and opportunities.

Most people agree that a strategic plan is only as good as the company’s ability to research, create, implement, evaluate, and adjust when needed. The benefits can be great when:

  • Your entire organization supports the plan.
  • Your business is set up to succeed.
  • Your employees are more likely to stay on track without being distracted or derailed.
  • You make better decisions based on metrics that facilitate course correction.
  • Everyone in your company is involved and invested in better outcomes.
  • Departments and teams are aligned across your company.
  • People are committed to learning and training.
  • Productivity increases, and performance improves.
  • Creativity is encouraged and rewarded.

What are the four main points of strategic planning? You engage in strategic thinking so you can create effective company goals that are:

Purpose-driven

Align your strategic plan with the company’s purpose and values as you understand them.

Actionable strategic goals are worth spending your time and resources on to reach organizational objectives.

It’s critical for you to track your strategy's progress and success, enabling your teams to take action and meet the goals more effectively.

Focused Long-term

A long-term focus distinguishes a strategic plan from operational goals, which involve daily activities and milestones required for success. When planning strategically, you’re looking ahead to the company’s future.

A strategic plan isn’t written in a day. Critical thinking evolves over several months. Those involved in the strategic planning are usually a team of leaders and employees from your company and possibly other stakeholders.

When should strategic planning be done?

You should plan strategically for start-ups and newer organizations from the start. But even if your company is more established, it’s not too late to start working on strategy.

Flexible timing that’s tailored to the needs of your organization is smart. Although the frequency of strategy sessions is up to you, many leaders use these milestones as a guide:

  • When the economy, your market, and industry trends change, or a global event occurs (like the onset of a pandemic).
  • Following a change in senior leadership.
  • Before a product launch or when a new division is added to your business.
  • After your company merges with another organization.
  • During a convenient time frame such as a quarterly and annual review.

Many organizations opt to schedule regular strategic reviews such as quarterly or annually. Especially when crafting a plan, your strategic planning team should meet regularly. They will often follow predetermined steps in the development of your long-term plan.

What are the 11 steps of strategic planning?

Identify your company’s strategic position in the marketplace. .

Gather market data and research information from both internal and external sources. You may want to conduct a comprehensive SWOT analysis to determine your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats against success. Your strengths and weaknesses are directly related to your current competitive advantage within your industry. They are what you use to balance challenges to your success. They also influence the likelihood of increased market share in the future.

Define your unique vision and mission. 

What would success look like for you in three years? Five years? Ten years? Articulate that in a vision statement. How do you intend to realize your vision? That’s articulated in your mission statement. Formulating purpose-driven strategic goals articulates why your company does what it does. Your organizational values inform your mission and vision and connect them to specific objectives.

Determine your company’s value.

Many companies use financial forecasting for this purpose. A forecast can assign anticipated measurable results, return on investment (ROI), or profits and cost of investment.

Set your organizational direction.

Defining the impact you want to have and the time frame for achieving helps focus a too-broad or over-ambitious first draft. This way, your plan will have objectives that will have the most impact. 

Create specific strategic objectives.

Your strategic objectives identify the conditions for your success. For instance, they may cover:

  • Value: Increasing revenue and shareholder value, budgeting cost, allocating resources aligned with the strategic plan, forecasting profitability, and ensuring financial stability. 
  • Customer Experience: Identifying target audiences, solution-based products and services, value for the cost, better service, and increased market share.
  • Operational Efficiency: Streamlining internal processes, investing in research and development, total quality and performance priorities, reducing cost, and improving workplace safety.
  • Learning and Growth: Training leaders and teams to address change and sustain growth, improving employee productivity and retention, and building high-performing teams.

Set specific strategic initiatives.

Strategic initiatives are your company's actions to reach your strategic objectives, such as raising brand awareness, a commitment to product development, purpose-driven employee training, and more.

Develop cascading goals.

Cascading goals are like cascading messages : They filter your strategy throughout the company from top to bottom. The highest-level goals align with mid-level goals to individual goals employees must accomplish to achieve overall outcomes. This helps everyone see how their performance will influence overall success, which improves engagement and productivity.

Create alignment across the entire company.

The success of your strategy is directly impacted by your commitment to inform and engage your entire workforce in strategy implementation. This involves ensuring everyone is connected and working together to achieve your goals. Overall decision-making becomes easier and more aligned.

Consider strategy mapping.

A strategy map is an easy-to-understand diagram, graphic, or illustration that shows the logical, cause-and-effect relationship among various strategic objectives. They are used to quickly communicate how your organization creates value. It will help you communicate the details of your strategic plan better to people by tapping into their visual learning abilities.

Use metrics to measure performance.

When your strategy informs the creation of SMART organizational goals , benchmarks can be established and metrics can be assigned to evaluate performance within time frames. Key performance indicators (KPIs) align performance and productivity with long-term strategic objectives. 

Evaluate the performance of your plan regularly.

You write a strategic plan to improve your company’s overall performance. Evaluating your progress at regular intervals will tell you whether you’re on your way to achieving your objectives or whether your plan needs an adjustment.

Effective strategic planning involves creating a company culture of good communication and accountability. It involves creating and embracing the opportunity for positive change.

Consider these statistics:

  • In many companies, only 42% of leaders and 27% of employees have access to a strategic plan.
  • Even if they have access, 95% of employees do not understand their organization's strategy.
  • 5.2% of a strategy’s potential is lost to poor communication.
  • What leaders care about makes up at least 80% of the content of their communications. But those messages do not tap into around 80% of their employees’ primary motivators for putting extra energy into a change program.
  • 28% of leaders say one of the main reasons strategic initiatives succeed is the ability to attract skilled personnel; 25% say it’s good communication; 25% say it’s the ability to manage organizational change.

Here’s what you can do to embrace a culture of good communication and accountability:

Make your strategic plan visible. Talk about what's working and what isn't. People want to know where and how they fit into the organization and why their contribution is valuable. Even if they don't understand every element of the plan.

Build accountability. If you've agreed on a plan with clear objectives and priorities, your leaders have to take responsibility for what's in it. They must own the objectives and activities in your plan.

Create an environment for change. It’s much more difficult to implement a strategy if you think there will be no support or collaboration from your coworkers. Addressing their concerns will help build a culture that understands how to champion change.

Implementing Your Strategic Plan

  • 98% of leaders think strategy implementation takes more time than strategy formulation.
  • 61% of leaders acknowledge that their organizations often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.
  • 45% of leaders say ensuring employees take different actions or demonstrate different behaviors is the toughest implementation challenge; 37% of leaders say it’s gaining support across the whole organization.
  • 39% of leaders say one of the main reasons strategic plans succeed is skilled implementation.

The reality for so many is that it’s harder to implement a strategic plan than to craft one. Great strategic ideas and a clear direction are key to success, no matter what. But so is:

  • Turning strategic ideas into an easy-to-implement framework that enables meaningful managing, tracking, and adapting.  
  • Getting everyone in the organization on the same strategic page, from creation to execution.

When your plan is structured to support implementation, you're more likely to get it done.

What are examples of good strategic planning? There are lots of templates out there to help you create a plan document with pen and paper.

But Ninety has a better way.

The Vision planner is essentially a strategic planning template on Ninety’s cloud-based platform that allows you to:

  • Set goals, establish how you will meet them, and share them with those who need to know.
  • Gain visibility around your company values.
  • Create core values, a niche, and long-term goals that are accessible to everyone in your company.
  • Create a vision of the future that lets you know what needs to happen now.
  • Streamline and organize your processes.
  • Easily update and track changes.
  • Bring alignment to your entire organization.

And you can do all this with only two digitized pages.

In your Vision tool inside Ninety, you can easily access all the things that make strategic plans effective:

  • Executive Summary
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Industry Analysis
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operations Plan
  • Financial Projections

Vision + Goals is also completely integrated with all other features on Ninety, such as Scorecards, 90-Day Goals, To-Dos, Issues, Roles & Responsibilities Chart, Meetings, One-on-Ones, and more:

  • Create a clear vision for each team.
  • Determine one- and three-year goals.
  • Reference past versions in a Vision archive.
  • Share your Vision with all teams, or keep it private.

Now that you’ve learned how to grow your company using strategic planning, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice:

Build your strategic plan on Ninety now.

Do you want more step-by-step guides on strategy, strategic planning, and creating actionable strategic plans?  Subscribe to our blog!

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Learn What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan

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What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan?

Many companies are looking for help, searching for an example of a strategic plan as a yardstick they can use to compare their own plans. But strategic plans can come in many forms, shapes, and sizes; they are not a “one size fits all” document.  There are simple strategic plans that include goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics, as well as complex plan structures that include multiple levels and layers. How developed your plan needs to be depends on several factors, including the level of accountability you are trying to create, the time frame for implementing the plan, and the culture of your organization. In this post, you’ll see an example of a strategic plan that is most common among businesses today.

Strategic Plan Example: Basic Structure

At a minimum, strategic and operational plans contain three levels that serve specific functions. These are listed in inverse order as they appear in a plan, to demonstrate the linkage from bottom up:

  • Tactics: These are task assignments that must be carried out on an individual basis. These action items comprise the strategies. For instance, if you have a client satisfaction strategy that focuses on an annual client event, there are a number of things that must be completed in order for the event to happen. These are the tactics, which include due dates, deliverables, and are assigned to specific people for execution.
  • Strategies: The collection of tactics need a name, and this name is the strategy. The name of the strategy provides the focus for something specific, and the strategy itself contains individual tactics. As such, strategies are the broad action-oriented items that we implement to achieve the objectives. In this example, the client event strategy is designed to improve overall client satisfaction. We may have additional strategies aimed at improving client satisfaction, and each of these other strategies will have a collection of tactics, too.
  • Objectives: These are quantifiable and measurable targets, that answer the questions of how much, by when. There is an old adage that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. As such, plans without measurable objectives are no plans at all; they are merely task lists. Objectives include baseline performance, targeted performance, and an established date for achieving the objective. Any example of a strategic plan must include objectives, as they are the foundation for planning. In this example, our objective is to increase client satisfaction from 82% to 90% by December 31st. How we accomplish that is the business of strategies and tactics.

Strategic Plan Example: Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics

Objective 1: Increase client satisfaction from 82.0% to 90.0% by December 31st.

  • Strategy 1.1: Implement an annual client conference • Tactic 1.1.1: Identify date and venue • Tactic 1.1.2: Develop agenda • Tactic 1.1.3: Identify and invite speakers • Tactic 1.1.4: Develop social events • Tactic 1.1.5: Develop menus • Tactic 1.1.6: Develop invitations

Strategic Plan Example: Strategic Themes and Goals

Although objectives, strategies, and tactics are core elements in any example of a strategic plan, they are not the only elements. Many plans are more robust and include additional levels in the hierarchy. These levels are usually referred to as strategic themes and goals, and they come before objectives. As such, a fully developed plan would look like the example of a strategic plan below:

  • Strategic Themes: These are one- to three-word affinity group headings used to compartmentalize strategic and operational plans, such as Quality, Safety, People, Customers, Service, Finance, and Growth. For companies that use strategic themes, four to six such categories appear to be the most common.
  • Goals: These are broad statements that translate the organization’s vision statement into something more meaningful and time-bound. If strategic themes are also used, goal statements are used to translate the vision to specific strategic themes.
  • Objectives: Similar to above, Objectives are the quantifiable items that measure the success of your Goals, and ultimately your strategic plan. They should measure how you plan to increase, decrease, or maintain some key performance indicators critical to the success of the goal.
  • Strategies:  With an understanding of success measures, Strategies determine  how your strategic plan will be executed and ultimately move the needle on Objectives. In some organizations, strategies are called initiatives or projects or programs. Regardless of the term used, Strategies set the foundation for the actual work that will make up the plan itself.
  • Tactics:  To best execute a strategic plan, a strategy needs to be broken down properly. In many cases, these are your tactics. Tactics are the core components of your strategies that will help measure success towards completion. Tactics are NOT quick tasks that can be completed by checking a box and instead are milestones or key deliverables of the strategies.

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Strategic Plan Template

This five level strategic plan template will help you create a plan that’s built around best practices for optimized execution.

Free Strategic Plan Template

Strategic Plan Example: A Complete Plan

Strategic Theme : Satisfaction

Goal : To be considered a trusted partner by our clients

Objective 1:  Increase client satisfaction from 82.0% to 90.0% by December 31st.

Keep in mind that there are many acceptable formats for strategic plans and you should use the approach that is right for you. Some companies prefer the one-page approach and others don’t adhere to specific approaches other than perhaps implementing a basic structure like the ones above. Either way, remember that creating a strategic plan is only the beginning; the hard part is executing it .

The best way to ensure your plan gets executed is to get everything in view, get everyone engaged, and work with a team that will give you every possible advantage. When you’ve got your plan crafted and ready to execute, take these next steps .

About AchieveIt

AchieveIt is the platform that large organizations use to get their biggest, most important initiatives out of the boardroom and into reality. Too many great ideas never quite make it across the finish line, because there’s no real way to keep everyone on course and keep everything on track. What does it take to actually guide these initiatives all the way through to completion? You’ve got to:

  • Get everything in view – so you can see what’s happening with every initiative, at every level, from the enterprise to the individual, in real-time.
  • Get everyone engaged – with an easy-to-use platform that connects your organization from the executive leadership to the project teams, keeping everyone accountable and on the same page.
  • Get every possible advantage – not only because you have the premier platform in this space, but because you can draw on the experience and best practices of our execution experts.

That’s why everyone from global corporations , to regional healthcare systems , to federal agencies have turned to AchieveIt for their Integrated Plan Management. Let’s actually do this.

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Crafting Strategic Plans: Examples to Help You Create Effective Strategies

Strategic planning is integral to achieving your business goals. Learn how to prepare effective strategies that guide your business to success.

company strategic plan example

Failing to plan is planning to fail .

The implications of poor planning range from simple to severe, such as being late to a stakeholders' meeting by a few minutes or losing a contract, respectively.

Businesses use strategic planning to achieve specific outcomes. For example, a small business might have five-year and 10-year strategic plans. These plans are a roadmap for achieving the desired outcomes.

Strategic plans should be flexible because they may need to change over time. According to a recent report,  64% of the surveyed businesses  modified their business strategies over 12 months because of global factors.

If you're running a small business and need a competitive advantage, you should learn to create effective, flexible strategic plans.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • What are strategic plans,
  • benefits of having effective strategic plans,
  • tips for creating effective strategic plans, and
  • examples of strategic plans.

What is a strategic plan?

The simplest definition of a strategic plan is a curated roadmap to hit your business goals.

The plan should outline what a business will do to grow from its current to its desired state. It should align with the company’s vision, mission statement, core values, and strategic objectives.

Let's look at Formula 1 (F1) racing to understand how a strategic plan might work.

Each F1 team prepares a strategic plan before race day. However, F1 teams often deviate from their strategies in response to new developments. For example, they may instruct drivers to skip pit stops if they think it'll give them an advantage over other drivers.

This F1 racing analogy extends into the business environment. Businesses often start with well-defined strategic plans but must modify them to respond to market dynamics.

Benefits of strategic planning

Some small businesses overlook the importance of having a strategic plan. Instead, they make short-term plans to adapt quickly to the market. While this may work for some businesses, it's ill-advised. Let's take a look at the key benefits of strategic planning.

Creates a shared sense of responsibility

A strategic plan creates a shared sense of responsibility among stakeholders, where everyone feels they have a personal responsibility for the long-term goals. Take the example of an online cakes and pastries business with a strategic plan to grow its sales by 15% annually. To get there, the business will depend on stakeholder input and productivity. Every employee contributes either directly or indirectly to the business's success.

‎Provides a clear roadmap

A strategic plan is an action plan. It outlines what the business should do to achieve its strategic goals. Ideally, it should include a vision statement and long-term objectives. The objectives are then broken down into specific goals and tactics for meeting the goals.

Fosters teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work ! However, you can only get people to work together when they have a common purpose. That’s exactly what a strategic plan does. Achieving the vision becomes the shared purpose that can unite employees.

Provides a basis for risk analyses (and management)

A strategic plan is the perfect jump-off point for a risk management plan. For context, a risk management plan identifies potential risks and mitigation strategies for those risks. If a business doesn't have a strategic plan, it's nearly impossible to identify potential roadblocks.

Effective performance tracking

A strategic plan should include key performance indicators (KPIs), which you can use to track performance against the strategic plan. Using the online cakes and pastries store example, they should have KPIs on the number of processed orders, turnover times, etc. These should help the business track its progress toward its goal of increasing its sales by 15% yearly.

6 effective strategic planning tools and techniques

Various tools and techniques can help with strategic planning. Note, that these tools differ in application and focus. Let's take a closer look.

Ansoff Matrix

The Ansoff Matrix is a four-quadrant framework to compare potential strategic plans. The Ansoff Matrix can help you choose between strategies that offer the highest returns at the most manageable risk levels. The strategies are classified into four groups, including:

  • Market penetration : The idea is to go deeper into your existing market. This is the least risky strategy because the downside isn't a net negative. An example would be the cakes and pastries business looking to increase its sales in its current markets.
  • Market development : This is the next least risky strategy (after market penetration). You can use this strategy to push products to new markets. For example, the cakes and pastries business could decide to open a physical shop for walk-in customers.
  • Product development : Businesses can use this strategy to introduce new products to their existing customers. For example, the cakes and pastries business may introduce hot beverages to its product catalog.
  • Diversification : Diversification means entering a new market and is the riskiest market extension strategy. It also offers the highest returns when successful. An example would be the cakes and pastries business opening a restaurant.

Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Strategy  focuses on differentiation and capturing unoccupied markets. Red Oceans are existing markets or sectors. Businesses often fight and compete to keep their market shares in red oceans. Alternatively, some may carve out a demand for their products in completely new, non-adjacent markets. An example would be the cakes and pastries business going into gyms with low-carb, high-protein snack cakes.

‎Gap analysis

You use Gap Analysis to compare a current state to a desired state and identifying the pieces (gaps) to get you there.

For example, opening a physical cakes and pastries shop requires capital. The business owner can use Gap Analysis to estimate the required resources and then plan how to raise the required capital.

McKinsey 7-S framework

The McKinsey 7-S Framework is great for implementing change.

For example, employees may oppose process automation if they fear they may lose their jobs. You can use this framework as a holistic approach to change management, which focuses on:

  • Structure:  Who reports to whom?
  • Shared values:  What are our mission, vision, and values?
  • Skill:  What skill sets do we have at our disposal?
  • System:  Are our workflows and decision-making chains effective?
  • Style:  What is the senior management's leadership style?
  • Staff:  How do we manage our talents?

Community Flywheel

The Community Flywheel  refers to the idea that you keep your current customers (community) engaged so they won't "churn".

For example, a local grocery store could participate in community events such as weekend farmer's markets to ensure its customers remain endeared to the business.

Note that one-hit tactics don't work for this strategy. You must engage your community continuously.

‎SWOT analysis

As the acronym implies, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is an analysis technique that can help you identify what you are doing right and where you could improve.

Some rabbit holes to explore would include:

  • Which internal factors give us an advantage (strengths) over our competitors?
  • Which internal factors limit our ability (weaknesses) to compete with others?
  • Does the external environment offer opportunities we can exploit?
  • Does the external environment pose threats that could undermine our survival?

The cakes and pastries business could use it to assess which factors can cause the business to succeed (or fail). They might find that financing is a strength, which could help them expand or diversify.

3 Examples of strategic plans

Strategic plans provide a roadmap for achieving ambitious goals. Note that you may have multiple strategic plans, each addressing specific outcomes. Here ar some examples.

Strategic plan example 1: Increase the company's market share

Goal:  Increase sales by 10% over the next three years.

Strategic planning tool:  Ansoff Matrix

Suppose a company sells shoes both online and through physical stores. They could use the Ansoff Matrix to identify and classify strategies into four quadrants based on the associated risks. Some practical strategies might include:

  • Lower the prices of shoes
  • Create family package deals.
  • Offer related accessories like cleaning brushes and stain removers.

Lowering the prices of shoes would go into the market penetration quadrant. Introducing accessories like stain removers falls under diversification. Family package deals fall under the product development quadrant. The shoe company should assess its risk appetite to determine which strategy they're willing to implement.

Strategic plan example 2: Customer retention

Goal:  Reduce customer turnover (churn).

Strategic planning tool:  Community Flywheel .

A great example is Nike's Jordan Brand, which identified its customer community as young consumers aged 20 to 40.

Nike curated its brand story around Michael Jordan, the basketball legend, and put the name into social conversations around basketball. This made the brand a household name within the customer community, which Nike parlayed into other (profitable) ventures.

Strategic plan example 3: Product differentiation

Goal:  Create a new market niche.

Strategic planning tool :  Blue Ocean Strategy

Take the example of an auto repair shop. Traditionally, car owners take their vehicles to auto repair shops for maintenance and servicing.

The shop could go into a less contested (and more convenient to the customer) market by offering mobile repair and maintenance services. To get started, they could  break the value-cost trade off  by making mobile services affordable to target customers. Providing affordable services will likely put off profit-driven competitors.

4 tips to help implement a successful strategic plan

Having a strategic plan doesn't translate into (guaranteed) success. You must ensure the strategic plans align with your long-term goals. The strategic plan should also be practical and achievable. Below are some tips for implementing a strategic plan.

Collaborate

The strategic planning team should work with relevant departments and stakeholders to actualize the plan. One way to foster collaboration is by engaging stakeholders during the planning stage. In the bakery example, this could mean involving the entire team and all stakeholders in a preliminary brainstorming session.

Continuously review and update the plan

You should review your strategic plans regularly. Compare current status with expected performance. For example, the bakery business should check its progress regularly (minimum every quarter) to identify challenges like missed orders or late deliveries. As a result, they might have to call on their risk management plan for a mitigation or update their strategic plan accordingly.

‎Make sure the plan is SMART

One way to measure against strategic plans is by using SMART goals, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound actionable goals. For example, targeting a 15% increase in sales over 12 months is a SMART goal. It's specific, can be measured, and is time-bound.

Use project management software

Project management  software can help you streamline the strategic planning process, including task management visualizations (like Gantt Charts and  Kanban Boards ) to lay out and track strategic plan activities.

Creating effective strategic plans for your business

Strategic plans are critical for continued success. Your strategic plans should map out the desired goals and define clear ways of achieving them. And don't forget to communicate the strategic plans to your team and relevant stakeholders.

Make your life easier with Motion to help you prepare your strategic plan and track the work as you go.

Try Motion for  free  today!

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  • Business strategy |
  • 7 strategic planning models, plus 8 fra ...

7 strategic planning models, plus 8 frameworks to help you get started

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Strategic planning is vital in defining where your business is going in the next three to five years. With the right strategic planning models and frameworks, you can uncover opportunities, identify risks, and create a strategic plan to fuel your organization’s success. We list the most popular models and frameworks and explain how you can combine them to create a strategic plan that fits your business.

A strategic plan is a great tool to help you hit your business goals . But sometimes, this tool needs to be updated to reflect new business priorities or changing market conditions. If you decide to use a model that already exists, you can benefit from a roadmap that’s already created. The model you choose can improve your knowledge of what works best in your organization, uncover unknown strengths and weaknesses, or help you find out how you can outpace your competitors.

In this article, we cover the most common strategic planning models and frameworks and explain when to use which one. Plus, get tips on how to apply them and which models and frameworks work well together. 

Strategic planning models vs. frameworks

First off: This is not a one-or-nothing scenario. You can use as many or as few strategic planning models and frameworks as you like. 

When your organization undergoes a strategic planning phase, you should first pick a model or two that you want to apply. This will provide you with a basic outline of the steps to take during the strategic planning process.

[Inline illustration] Strategic planning models vs. frameworks (Infographic)

During that process, think of strategic planning frameworks as the tools in your toolbox. Many models suggest starting with a SWOT analysis or defining your vision and mission statements first. Depending on your goals, though, you may want to apply several different frameworks throughout the strategic planning process.

For example, if you’re applying a scenario-based strategic plan, you could start with a SWOT and PEST(LE) analysis to get a better overview of your current standing. If one of the weaknesses you identify has to do with your manufacturing process, you could apply the theory of constraints to improve bottlenecks and mitigate risks. 

Now that you know the difference between the two, learn more about the seven strategic planning models, as well as the eight most commonly used frameworks that go along with them.

[Inline illustration] The seven strategic planning models (Infographic)

1. Basic model

The basic strategic planning model is ideal for establishing your company’s vision, mission, business objectives, and values. This model helps you outline the specific steps you need to take to reach your goals, monitor progress to keep everyone on target, and address issues as they arise.

If it’s your first strategic planning session, the basic model is the way to go. Later on, you can embellish it with other models to adjust or rewrite your business strategy as needed. Let’s take a look at what kinds of businesses can benefit from this strategic planning model and how to apply it.

Small businesses or organizations

Companies with little to no strategic planning experience

Organizations with few resources 

Write your mission statement. Gather your planning team and have a brainstorming session. The more ideas you can collect early in this step, the more fun and rewarding the analysis phase will feel.

Identify your organization’s goals . Setting clear business goals will increase your team’s performance and positively impact their motivation.

Outline strategies that will help you reach your goals. Ask yourself what steps you have to take in order to reach these goals and break them down into long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals .

Create action plans to implement each of the strategies above. Action plans will keep teams motivated and your organization on target.

Monitor and revise the plan as you go . As with any strategic plan, it’s important to closely monitor if your company is implementing it successfully and how you can adjust it for a better outcome.

2. Issue-based model

Also called goal-based planning model, this is essentially an extension of the basic strategic planning model. It’s a bit more dynamic and very popular for companies that want to create a more comprehensive plan.

Organizations with basic strategic planning experience

Businesses that are looking for a more comprehensive plan

Conduct a SWOT analysis . Assess your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with a SWOT analysis to get a better overview of what your strategic plan should focus on. We’ll give into how to conduct a SWOT analysis when we get into the strategic planning frameworks below.

Identify and prioritize major issues and/or goals. Based on your SWOT analysis, identify and prioritize what your strategic plan should focus on this time around.

Develop your main strategies that address these issues and/or goals. Aim to develop one overarching strategy that addresses your highest-priority goal and/or issue to keep this process as simple as possible.

Update or create a mission and vision statement . Make sure that your business’s statements align with your new or updated strategy. If you haven’t already, this is also a chance for you to define your organization’s values.

Create action plans. These will help you address your organization’s goals, resource needs, roles, and responsibilities. 

Develop a yearly operational plan document. This model works best if your business repeats the strategic plan implementation process on an annual basis, so use a yearly operational plan to capture your goals, progress, and opportunities for next time.

Allocate resources for your year-one operational plan. Whether you need funding or dedicated team members to implement your first strategic plan, now is the time to allocate all the resources you’ll need.

Monitor and revise the strategic plan. Record your lessons learned in the operational plan so you can revisit and improve it for the next strategic planning phase.

The issue-based plan can repeat on an annual basis (or less often once you resolve the issues). It’s important to update the plan every time it’s in action to ensure it’s still doing the best it can for your organization.

You don’t have to repeat the full process every year—rather, focus on what’s a priority during this run.

3. Alignment model

This model is also called strategic alignment model (SAM) and is one of the most popular strategic planning models. It helps you align your business and IT strategies with your organization’s strategic goals. 

You’ll have to consider four equally important, yet different perspectives when applying the alignment strategic planning model:

Strategy execution: The business strategy driving the model

Technology potential: The IT strategy supporting the business strategy

Competitive potential: Emerging IT capabilities that can create new products and services

Service level: Team members dedicated to creating the best IT system in the organization

Ideally, your strategy will check off all the criteria above—however, it’s more likely you’ll have to find a compromise. 

Here’s how to create a strategic plan using the alignment model and what kinds of companies can benefit from it.

Organizations that need to fine-tune their strategies

Businesses that want to uncover issues that prevent them from aligning with their mission

Companies that want to reassess objectives or correct problem areas that prevent them from growing

Outline your organization’s mission, programs, resources, and where support is needed. Before you can improve your statements and approaches, you need to define what exactly they are.

Identify what internal processes are working and which ones aren’t. Pinpoint which processes are causing problems, creating bottlenecks , or could otherwise use improving. Then prioritize which internal processes will have the biggest positive impact on your business.

Identify solutions. Work with the respective teams when you’re creating a new strategy to benefit from their experience and perspective on the current situation.

Update your strategic plan with the solutions. Update your strategic plan and monitor if implementing it is setting your business up for improvement or growth. If not, you may have to return to the drawing board and update your strategic plan with new solutions.

4. Scenario model

The scenario model works great if you combine it with other models like the basic or issue-based model. This model is particularly helpful if you need to consider external factors as well. These can be government regulations, technical, or demographic changes that may impact your business.

Organizations trying to identify strategic issues and goals caused by external factors

Identify external factors that influence your organization. For example, you should consider demographic, regulation, or environmental factors.

Review the worst case scenario the above factors could have on your organization. If you know what the worst case scenario for your business looks like, it’ll be much easier to prepare for it. Besides, it’ll take some of the pressure and surprise out of the mix, should a scenario similar to the one you create actually occur.

Identify and discuss two additional hypothetical organizational scenarios. On top of your worst case scenario, you’ll also want to define the best case and average case scenarios. Keep in mind that the worst case scenario from the previous step can often provoke strong motivation to change your organization for the better. However, discussing the other two will allow you to focus on the positive—the opportunities your business may have ahead.

Identify and suggest potential strategies or solutions. Everyone on the team should now brainstorm different ways your business could potentially respond to each of the three scenarios. Discuss the proposed strategies as a team afterward.

Uncover common considerations or strategies for your organization. There’s a good chance that your teammates come up with similar solutions. Decide which ones you like best as a team or create a new one together.

Identify the most likely scenario and the most reasonable strategy. Finally, examine which of the three scenarios is most likely to occur in the next three to five years and how your business should respond to potential changes.

5. Self-organizing model

Also called the organic planning model, the self-organizing model is a bit different from the linear approaches of the other models. You’ll have to be very patient with this method. 

This strategic planning model is all about focusing on the learning and growing process rather than achieving a specific goal. Since the organic model concentrates on continuous improvement , the process is never really over.

Large organizations that can afford to take their time

Businesses that prefer a more naturalistic, organic planning approach that revolves around common values, communication, and shared reflection

Companies that have a clear understanding of their vision

Define and communicate your organization’s cultural values . Your team can only think clearly and with solutions in mind when they have a clear understanding of your organization's values.

Communicate the planning group’s vision for the organization. Define and communicate the vision with everyone involved in the strategic planning process. This will align everyone’s ideas with your company’s vision.

Discuss what processes will help realize the organization’s vision on a regular basis. Meet every quarter to discuss strategies or tactics that will move your organization closer to realizing your vision.

6. Real-time model

This fluid model can help organizations that deal with rapid changes to their work environment. There are three levels of success in the real-time model: 

Organizational: At the organizational level, you’re forming strategies in response to opportunities or trends.

Programmatic: At the programmatic level, you have to decide how to respond to specific outcomes or environmental changes.

Operational: On the operational level, you will study internal systems, policies, and people to develop a strategy for your company.

Figuring out your competitive advantage can be difficult, but this is absolutely crucial to ensure success. Whether it’s a unique asset or strength your organization has or an outstanding execution of services or programs—it’s important that you can set yourself apart from others in the industry to succeed.

Companies that need to react quickly to changing environments

Businesses that are seeking new tools to help them align with their organizational strategy

Define your mission and vision statement. If you ever feel stuck formulating your company’s mission or vision statement, take a look at those of others. Maybe Asana’s vision statement sparks some inspiration.

Research, understand, and learn from competitor strategy and market trends. Pick a handful of competitors in your industry and find out how they’ve created success for themselves. How did they handle setbacks or challenges? What kinds of challenges did they even encounter? Are these common scenarios in the market? Learn from your competitors by finding out as much as you can about them.

Study external environments. At this point, you can combine the real-time model with the scenario model to find solutions to threats and opportunities outside of your control.

Conduct a SWOT analysis of your internal processes, systems, and resources. Besides the external factors your team has to consider, it’s also important to look at your company’s internal environment and how well you’re prepared for different scenarios.

Develop a strategy. Discuss the results of your SWOT analysis to develop a business strategy that builds toward organizational, programmatic, and operational success.

Rinse and repeat. Monitor how well the new strategy is working for your organization and repeat the planning process as needed to ensure you’re on top or, perhaps, ahead of the game. 

7. Inspirational model

This last strategic planning model is perfect to inspire and energize your team as they work toward your organization’s goals. It’s also a great way to introduce or reconnect your employees to your business strategy after a merger or acquisition.

Businesses with a dynamic and inspired start-up culture

Organizations looking for inspiration to reinvigorate the creative process

Companies looking for quick solutions and strategy shifts

Gather your team to discuss an inspirational vision for your organization. The more people you can gather for this process, the more input you will receive.

Brainstorm big, hairy audacious goals and ideas. Encouraging your team not to hold back with ideas that may seem ridiculous will do two things: for one, it will mitigate the fear of contributing bad ideas. But more importantly, it may lead to a genius idea or suggestion that your team wouldn’t have thought of if they felt like they had to think inside of the box.

Assess your organization’s resources. Find out if your company has the resources to implement your new ideas. If they don’t, you’ll have to either adjust your strategy or allocate more resources.

Develop a strategy balancing your resources and brainstorming ideas. Far-fetched ideas can grow into amazing opportunities but they can also bear great risk. Make sure to balance ideas with your strategic direction. 

Now, let’s dive into the most commonly used strategic frameworks.

8. SWOT analysis framework

One of the most popular strategic planning frameworks is the SWOT analysis . A SWOT analysis is a great first step in identifying areas of opportunity and risk—which can help you create a strategic plan that accounts for growth and prepares for threats.

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Here’s an example:

[Inline illustration] SWOT analysis (Example)

9. OKRs framework

A big part of strategic planning is setting goals for your company. That’s where OKRs come into play. 

OKRs stand for objective and key results—this goal-setting framework helps your organization set and achieve goals. It provides a somewhat holistic approach that you can use to connect your team’s work to your organization’s big-picture goals.  When team members understand how their individual work contributes to the organization’s success, they tend to be more motivated and produce better results

10. Balanced scorecard (BSC) framework

The balanced scorecard is a popular strategic framework for businesses that want to take a more holistic approach rather than just focus on their financial performance. It was designed by David Norton and Robert Kaplan in the 1990s, it’s used by companies around the globe to: 

Communicate goals

Align their team’s daily work with their company’s strategy

Prioritize products, services, and projects

Monitor their progress toward their strategic goals

Your balanced scorecard will outline four main business perspectives:

Customers or clients , meaning their value, satisfaction, and/or retention

Financial , meaning your effectiveness in using resources and your financial performance

Internal process , meaning your business’s quality and efficiency

Organizational capacity , meaning your organizational culture, infrastructure and technology, and human resources

With the help of a strategy map, you can visualize and communicate how your company is creating value. A strategy map is a simple graphic that shows cause-and-effect connections between strategic objectives. 

The balanced scorecard framework is an amazing tool to use from outlining your mission, vision, and values all the way to implementing your strategic plan .

You can use an integration like Lucidchart to create strategy maps for your business in Asana.

11. Porter’s Five Forces framework

If you’re using the real-time strategic planning model, Porter’s Five Forces are a great framework to apply. You can use it to find out what your product’s or service’s competitive advantage is before entering the market.

Developed by Michael E. Porter , the framework outlines five forces you have to be aware of and monitor:

[Inline illustration] Porter’s Five Forces framework (Infographic)

Threat of new industry entrants: Any new entry into the market results in increased pressure on prices and costs. 

Competition in the industry: The more competitors that exist, the more difficult it will be for you to create value in the market with your product or service.

Bargaining power of suppliers: Suppliers can wield more power if there are less alternatives for buyers or it’s expensive, time consuming, or difficult to switch to a different supplier.

Bargaining power of buyers: Buyers can wield more power if the same product or service is available elsewhere with little to no difference in quality.

Threat of substitutes: If another company already covers the market’s needs, you’ll have to create a better product or service or make it available for a lower price at the same quality in order to compete.

Remember, industry structures aren’t static. The more dynamic your strategic plan is, the better you’ll be able to compete in a market.

12. VRIO framework

The VRIO framework is another strategic planning tool designed to help you evaluate your competitive advantage. VRIO stands for value, rarity, imitability, and organization.

It’s a resource-based theory developed by Jay Barney. With this framework, you can study your firmed resources and find out whether or not your company can transform them into sustained competitive advantages. 

Firmed resources can be tangible (e.g., cash, tools, inventory, etc.) or intangible (e.g., copyrights, trademarks, organizational culture, etc.). Whether these resources will actually help your business once you enter the market depends on four qualities:

Valuable : Will this resource either increase your revenue or decrease your costs and thereby create value for your business?

Rare : Are the resources you’re using rare or can others use your resources as well and therefore easily provide the same product or service?

Inimitable : Are your resources either inimitable or non-substitutable? In other words, how unique and complex are your resources?

Organizational: Are you organized enough to use your resources in a way that captures their value, rarity, and inimitability?

It’s important that your resources check all the boxes above so you can ensure that you have sustained competitive advantage over others in the industry.

13. Theory of Constraints (TOC) framework

If the reason you’re currently in a strategic planning process is because you’re trying to mitigate risks or uncover issues that could hurt your business—this framework should be in your toolkit.

The theory of constraints (TOC) is a problem-solving framework that can help you identify limiting factors or bottlenecks preventing your organization from hitting OKRs or KPIs . 

Whether it’s a policy, market, or recourse constraint—you can apply the theory of constraints to solve potential problems, respond to issues, and empower your team to improve their work with the resources they have.

14. PEST/PESTLE analysis framework

The idea of the PEST analysis is similar to that of the SWOT analysis except that you’re focusing on external factors and solutions. It’s a great framework to combine with the scenario-based strategic planning model as it helps you define external factors connected to your business’s success.

PEST stands for political, economic, sociological, and technological factors. Depending on your business model, you may want to expand this framework to include legal and environmental factors as well (PESTLE). These are the most common factors you can include in a PESTLE analysis:

Political: Taxes, trade tariffs, conflicts

Economic: Interest and inflation rate, economic growth patterns, unemployment rate

Social: Demographics, education, media, health

Technological: Communication, information technology, research and development, patents

Legal: Regulatory bodies, environmental regulations, consumer protection

Environmental: Climate, geographical location, environmental offsets

15. Hoshin Kanri framework

Hoshin Kanri is a great tool to communicate and implement strategic goals. It’s a planning system that involves the entire organization in the strategic planning process. The term is Japanese and stands for “compass management” and is also known as policy management. 

This strategic planning framework is a top-down approach that starts with your leadership team defining long-term goals which are then aligned and communicated with every team member in the company. 

You should hold regular meetings to monitor progress and update the timeline to ensure that every teammate’s contributions are aligned with the overarching company goals.

Stick to your strategic goals

Whether you’re a small business just starting out or a nonprofit organization with decades of experience, strategic planning is a crucial step in your journey to success. 

If you’re looking for a tool that can help you and your team define, organize, and implement your strategic goals, Asana is here to help. Our goal-setting software allows you to connect all of your team members in one place, visualize progress, and stay on target.

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Jumpstart a better way to do strategy

This episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast features excerpts from an address that McKinsey senior partner Chris Bradley gave at our recent Global Business Leaders Forum. He discusses the eight practical shifts that executive teams can make to move their strategy into high gear. This is an edited transcript. You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or Google Podcasts .

Sean Brown: From McKinsey’s Strategy and Corporate Finance Practice, I’m Sean Brown. Welcome to Inside the Strategy Room . In today’s episode we will hear from Chris Bradley, a senior partner based in our Sydney office and one of the authors of McKinsey’s recent book Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds (John Wiley & Sons, 2018). In our two earlier podcasts, Chris and his co-authors, Sven Smit and Martin Hirt, talked about how social dynamics and biases can undermine strategy development, and explained the power curve of economic profit , which shows how well—or how poorly—the strategies of the world’s largest companies are succeeding. We also heard about the most important strategic moves companies can make to rise up that power curve.

Today we’d like to share excerpts from a presentation Chris gave at our Global Business Leaders Forum in New York. Chris will take us through some of the practical changes that companies can make to their strategic planning process to unlock those bold moves.

Here’s Chris on how he and his co-authors approach the challenges faced by executive teams in the strategy room, and how they help them make the first shift.

Chris Bradley: Business books are notoriously boring. To make any story interesting, you need a villain. If your goal is to scale the power curve of economic profit and make big moves to beat the odds of strategic success, the villain is the thing that gets in your way of achieving that goal. What is it that gets in the way? It’s called the social side of strategy. This villain is a funny one. Rather than causing big catastrophes, it usually causes inertia, and the risk that your company moves slower than the market it’s in.

This is how it works. You start your strategy season with high hopes. You’re going to make the big moves. You will get on top of the trends. But when you get to the strategy room, you find it crowded with all sorts of stuff. There are negotiations, there are egos, there are last year’s plans. There are other people, and you want to look good to them. There is so much else going on than just strategy. So, we ended our book with a kind of manifesto for how you could manage your company differently.

What we need to do is reengineer the way we do strategy. There are eight shifts we propose (exhibit). The first one concerns planning. It’s extraordinarily important to know what is going to happen next month, what resources need to move, and what initiatives you have to launch. The problem is, that’s a different mode of thinking from strategy. As soon as you put strategy and planning together, planning will always win. The shift we suggest making is to go from this annual planning ritual to treating strategy as a journey.

Let me make that practical: you need a two-track process. First you need an efficient way of doing your plans—that’s really important, making sure the budget lines up every year. But you need a parallel track to do strategy, and that has completely different timing. By the time you come to planning, you should already have your strategy in mind.

I’m going to bring this to life through what we call micropractices. If you want to reengineer the way a company works, you can talk in themes and theories, but it tends to come down to lots of small things you do differently. For example, some companies have, outside of their normal strategy-planning season, a set of regular meetings with an evolving agenda of big strategic topics and stimulating discussions about them to make decisions, so you get into a discipline and a cadence of strategic conversations. That’s a micropractice. It’s very rare, but increasingly we’re seeing companies move to more agile ways of working, even outside of the tech space.

Strategy plans are often elaborate management ballets perfectly choreographed to do only one thing, and that’s get to a yes. Chris Bradley

Something fascinating happens when they go agile. They discover, “Oh, our planning processes actually don’t work anymore because we are now in this 90-day cycle.” I think agile is an exciting place for strategists to find inspiration because of this idea of having a story updated every 90 days that then cascades down into all the squads and tribes.

So, the idea with the first of the eight shifts is, how do I continually go from big goals to little goals in a much more robust way. This is strategy as a journey.

Sean Brown: The second shift Chris identified was about encouraging the strategy team to debate real alternatives rather than simply seeking to get a yes to the proposal on the table. Here is Chris again.

Chris Bradley: Strategy plans are often an elaborate management ballet that seems perfectly choreographed to do only one thing, and that’s get to a yes. That’s because what do you walk into the room with? A proposal. And if you walk into a room with a proposal, a good outcome is acceptance of your proposal—and usually it’s the last page that matters, which is where you ask for the resources you need.

This is just entirely the wrong place to start strategic planning. You need to debate real alternatives. Let me bring this to life with a bit of research I came across about how private-equity firms make investment decisions. An experiment put teams in two rooms. One evaluated investment decisions one at a time and the other compared two simultaneously. What they found was that there was a 30 percent difference in decisions between the two. Later, when they did a randomized trial, they found that the team with two alternatives to consider always made the better decision. The fact packs were the same, but the room weighing two alternatives did a better job of digging into the footnotes. That’s because the investment case always has the problems in it but usually they are summarized in the footnotes or the appendix. Having two alternatives to choose from just made it safer to dig into the cons.

In that sense, what I would argue is, this idea of working from a single proposal or the one-off plan introduces a 30 percent error into what you are doing. See, in the world of getting to a yes, everyone has high market share. There’s a famous story that Jack Welch, when he took over GE, said that every business had to be number one or number two in its segment. Of course that happened, by people playing the denominator game—everyone’s market got really small and so they became number one or number two instantly. He said then, “No, no, no. Now you have to define your market so that you have less than 10 percent market share.” He found a way to get through the problem with the proposals. But the reality is, most companies don’t work like this. They are not comparing alternative plans. Their strategies are framed more around promises and financial goals than they are around choices.

Sean Brown: In Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick , the authors emphasize the importance of making big, bold commitments to initiatives that can really elevate the company’s performance. But it’s hard for most companies to move resources around in a big way. Next, Chris addressed ways to get resources moving dynamically toward businesses with the greatest potential.

Chris Bradley: The harsh reality of the way we do strategic planning now is, there is a pot of money and we all compete for it. But when we did our research on companies that rose up the power curve, we found that it usually was not the whole company improving but one or two out of ten business units that disproportionately went up. It’s just a small part of the company that explosively grows.

That’s easy to logically understand, but when you’re in the strategy room and trying to be one of those winners, you may create a lot of losers. And you can see how, with the social side of strategy, that really becomes a problem. If you ask ten business-unit leaders in the room, “Which of you runs the bottom five units?” you will get a uniform answer: none of them is in the bottom five. But if you ask them which is the one business the company should disproportionately back, they usually know which it is.

So, what we want to do is go from spreading resources evenly like peanut butter, which is the enemy, to picking one-in-tens with breakout potential. That means we must deal with some tough stuff. An example is the Dutch semiconductor firm NXP. They went from around $2 billion market cap to $25 billion, and at the source of that were tough choices. They moved 70 percent of their R&D to backing just two of the 13 trajectories they had. But to do that, you create 11 losers. So how do we make winners out of losers? Reckitt Benckiser is an innovative consumer-goods company, and they are also quite innovative in their management practices. They have taken the concept of granularity and taken it to the extreme whereby they’re running 200 markets and 106 brands. That’s a big matrix. But what’s really interesting is that they have chosen 19 brands in 16 markets that they call “power cells.” These get disproportionately more resources.

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If you think about the level of visibility that such practices imply for resource allocation, it’s much different from what you get when you just roll up a bunch of business-unit (BU) plans—an order of magnitude of difference. Also the leadership style is very different, because instead of talking to each BU president and accepting their plan as a package deal, you actually have portfolio visibility at three or four levels down the organization.

Sean Brown: The next shift Chris explained is the transition from simply negotiating budgets to discussing the big moves a company needs to make.

Chris Bradley: Strategic planning is often just a cover for the real game, which is the three-year plan. Once you have anchored your strategic plan on the numbers, you’ve lost the plot because now you’re negotiating. What do you do about that? We go from budgets to moves, and what I mean by that is, don’t start with the numbers you’re going to achieve; start with the moves you’re going to make.

The enemy here is the base case, which is usually an extrapolation enabled by Excel, because when you click on a cell and you get the little crosshair and you drag it across, it’s easy just to extrapolate. The problem with it is that you extrapolate away the fact that the management team before you worked very hard to get those results—that’s not a base case. But you lay your strategic initiatives on top of it anyway, and then usually there is a gap in your waterfall chart to budget that says “stretch.”

That doesn’t work. What we propose instead is to ask, what is the momentum case of the business? In other words, if you just kept your current policies and capabilities, with no new initiative or investment, what would happen to the business? Some businesses do OK; they may have a lot of tailwind. For most businesses, however, the momentum case will be frightening. If you take your pedal off the metal, most companies will fade out pretty fast. So, if you’re a retailer and you stop refurbishing your stores, your comparable sales will fall quickly, and when your comp sales fall, that will very quickly leverage into your bottom line. It’s frightening, but that’s the right basis, because then you can calibrate. “OK, if that’s my momentum case, how much do I need to do to get to my aspiration? And what will get me there?” It focuses the discussion on the moves you need to make.

The most important thing to start with is, know your business really well. Often, we think the hard part of strategy is that we have to guess the future. I think the hard part of strategy is busting your own myths. The most important question a strategist can ask is, why do we make the money? I think of it like being on a dirt road in the Australian outback and you look in your rearview mirror. It’s very hard to see where you’ve been because a lot of dust has been kicked up. For the social side of strategy, this ambiguity about the past ends up being really useful, because you can say that when you did well, it was management prowess, and when things were tough, it was because of the weather. Remember, in the strategy room, it’s important to look good.

Rather than negotiating a financial promise, put some calibration around your moves. There is an increasing trend of basing investments purely on artificial intelligence, which judges an investment story based on many variables, then spits out a probability. That’s a good way of also getting the approving of budgets out of the way. And then AI [artificial intelligence] will tell you, based on how much you are investing and your technology and the sector you’re in, what your budget should be—as an outcome, not as an input.

If you want to drive strategic change in your company, you should be its chief liquidity officer. You can’t move resources that aren’t liquid. In other words, you cannot reallocate if you don’t also de-allocate. Chris Bradley

Sean Brown: Once the company has decided on which moves to make, the next challenge is following through and allocating sufficient resources to those priorities. That’s not easy. Chris talked about how to free up those resources. He then explained how managers can overcome sandbagging and risk aversion.

Chris Bradley: There is often a rude awakening. While we’ve all agreed that we will move resources to businesses B and C, on Monday morning we discover that we don’t have any resources to move. The reality is, most companies can’t responsibly move those levels of resources on a dime. In a recent survey my colleague Tim Koller did, only 30 percent of managers agreed that their budgets were aligned with the three-to-five-year plan. That’s a lot of dissonance.

So how do you create liquid resources? If you want to really drive strategic change in your company, you should be its chief liquidity officer. You can’t move resources that aren’t liquid. In other words, you cannot reallocate if you don’t also de-allocate. By the way, in a survey we did , this was the shift that respondents admitted they struggle with the most. Only 5 percent agreed that resources at their companies are freed up ahead of time to create a kitty of contestable funds in the annual budget.

A root cause of this is that managers are not charged an opportunity cost. I work a lot in retail, and I’m always bugging CEOs to measure their buyers on return on space, because otherwise they will never give shelves back to you. If they are measured on sales, they will always want more space. I’m sure you can apply the same principle in other businesses.

Here is another idea. Everyone has heard of zero-based budgeting, but it’s completely unrealistic. I can’t zero-base my bank branch network tomorrow because it’s already there. But what about 87-percent-based budgeting, or 93-percent-based budgeting? In other words, create a norm where you force contestability over that last bit of resources. A big part of this is about de-anchoring next year’s budget from being this year’s budget.

Let me introduce another problem. My colleague Dan Lovallo is a professor who works in applying psychology on biases to management topics. A simple test he did at an investment bank showed that if you applied the CEO’s risk tolerance to all the investment decisions made at lower levels rather than the more junior decision makers’ risk tolerance, the decisions would have had a 32 percent better outcome. So, there is this tax of risk aversion, and it makes sense: if you’re the CEO, you feel pretty diversified because there are probably 20 or 30 bets sitting in your portfolio, so you can afford a few fails. But you are asking your business-unit leaders to take undiversified risk, and then get killed on their key performance indicators when they don’t hit the numbers. It should be little surprise then that a lot of the risk gets edited out of the system.

The shift I want to encourage here is to go from this sandbagging to open risk portfolios. In other words, go from your strategy being lots of mini hockey sticks that you add together to one big hockey stick that has many risk trade-offs made at the enterprise level. There is a simple way of doing that: don’t have cross-subsidization by creating attacker units that report separately. That’s super-important in a world of digital disruption. Companies often try to protect their earnings core from growth businesses. One way to undo the package deal is to separate those different types of businesses.

Sean Brown: Chris then went on to explain how CEOs can promote the mind-set that will encourage business-unit leaders to take the risks that will help the overall company reach its aspiration.

Eight shifts that will take your strategy into high gear

Eight shifts that will take your strategy into high gear

Chris Bradley: We get what we incentivize. We ask our managers to hit their budgets 90 percent of the time and then criticize them for being too risk-averse. We love scenario analysis at strategy planning time, but who has ever seen that scenario analysis brought out again at performance review time?

One thing I propose is throwing out balanced scorecards. They are not very good because you end up having 20 goals, each at 5 percent, and therefore no individual one matters. Unbalanced scorecards are much better, because then the total potential bonus is driven by financial outcomes, but it may be reduced by how you got to that outcome. We have to reengineer how we evaluate people, particularly in risky contexts. Rather than “you are your numbers,” take a holistic performance view.

How do we make sure noble failures get rewarded and dumb luck does not? It’s interesting that in our survey, by far the most respondents said they believe their companies, when evaluating performance, penalize noble failures and don’t recognize the risks someone took. There is some missed wiring in the way the incentive system works, so it’s little surprise that we are not getting these big moves to happen. One innovation private equity brought in is basing incentives on having more skin in the game over a longer period of time.

Sean Brown: The final shift Chris discussed is the move from long-range planning to forcing the first step. He described how you can’t finish the strategy meeting until you have figured out what you will do tomorrow to start putting it into action.

Chris Bradley: I’ll describe this last shift with a story that’s relayed by my co-author Sven Smit. He was with insurance executives and everyone had just listened to this truly inspiring presentation about the paperless future of insurance. The CEO asked an inconvenient question: “I love this presentation, but how much paper are we budgeted to use next year?” And there was a bit of shuffling of feet, and I think someone had to go out of the room to find the number. The answer turned out to be 5 percent more paper. The CEO said, “I love the paperless future, but maybe next year can we do minus 5 percent paper use? Can we start there?”

So, a lot of this is about setting the most radical goal that’s achievable in a six-month period. That should be the first challenge.

I want to take the pressure down a bit here. These shifts are hard to do. If you get good at even a few of them, you are straightaway putting yourself into some seriously rare territory. There is a reason, aside from the fact that markets are competitive, that companies aren’t making big moves. It’s because the social side of strategy overwhelms them. Maybe make some of these shifts, think boldly, be aspirational, and do it not just by having fancier presentations and nicer-sounding initiatives but by really getting inside the social side of strategy in your company.

Sean Brown: Thank you for joining us for Inside the Strategy Room today. You can learn more about these shifts to the strategy-development process in “ Eight shifts that will take your strategy into high gear .” You can also do the Eight Shifts Diagnostic  to see how well your executive team is performing on each of the eight shifts and how your performance compares to other companies. And, of course, you can find more information in the book, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds .

Chris Bradley is a senior partner in the Sydney office, and Sean Brown is the firm’s global director of communications for strategy and corporate finance, based in the Boston office.

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Strategic Plan Examples | Best 11 Tools For Effective Strategic Planning | Updated in 2024

Strategic Plan Examples | Best 11 Tools For Effective Strategic Planning | Updated in 2024

Jane Ng • 14 Jan 2024 • 10 min read

Looking for Strategic Plan Examples? Having a strategic plan is essential for any business or organization’s growth. A well-crafted plan can make all the difference in the success of your venture. It helps you have a realistic vision for the future and maximize the company’s potential.

So, if you struggle to develop a strategic plan for your business or organization. In this blog post, we will discuss a strategic plan example along with few fun ideas for strategic planning and tools that can serve as a guide to help you create a successful plan.

Table of Contents

What is a strategic plan, strategic plan examples, tools for effective strategic planning, how ahaslides help you with strategic planning, key takeaways, frequently asked questions, tips for better engagement.

  • Strategy Formulation
  • Scenario Planning Examples
  • What is Career Planning?
  • Stress Management

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A strategic plan is a plan that outlines an organization’s long-term goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving them.  

It is a roadmap that helps your organization prepare and allocate resources, efforts, and actions to achieve its vision and mission.

Strategic Plan Example

Specifically, a strategic plan usually lasts 3-5 years and may require the organization to evaluate its current position with its strengths, weaknesses, potential, and competitive level. Based on this analysis, the organization will define its strategic goals and objectives   (they need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).

Following that, the plan will list the required steps and actions to achieve these goals, as well as the resources needed, timelines, and performance measures to track progress and success.

To guarantee success, your strategic plan needs tools that help with planning, management, communication, collaboration, and accountability to help the organization stay focused and stick to the workflow.

Here are some strategic planning models your business can use:

1/ SWOT Analysis – Strategic Plan Example 

The SWOT Analysis model was developed by  Albert Humphrey . This model is a well-known business analysis model for organizations that want to create a strategic plan by evaluating four factors:

  • S – Strengths
  • W – Weaknesses
  • O – Opportunities
  • T – Threats

company strategic plan example

With these factors, your organization can understand its current situation, advantages, and areas where need to improve. In addition, your organization can identify the external threats that may affect it and the opportunities to seize in the present or the future.

After having such an overview, organizations will have a solid basis for effective planning, avoiding risks later.

Strategic Plan Example:   To help you better understand how to use SWOT analysis to develop a strategic plan, we will give an example.

You have a small business that sells handmade soap products. Here is a SWOT analysis of your business:

Based on this SWOT analysis, your business can develop a strategic plan that focuses on

  • Expand product distribution channels
  • Developing new product lines
  • Improve online marketing and advertising

With this strategy, you can leverage your strengths, such as high-quality products and personalized customer service.

2/ Balanced Scorecard Model – Strategic Plan Example 

Balanced Scorecard Model is a strategic planning model that helps businesses develop sustainably and reliably through all 4 aspects:

  • Financial:  Organizations need to measure and monitor financial results, including fixed costs, depreciation expenses, return on investment, return on investment, revenue growth rate, etc.
  • Customers:  Organizations need to measure and evaluate customer satisfaction, along with their ability to meet customer needs.
  • Internal process:  Organizations need to measure and evaluate how well they are doing.
  • Learning & Growth:  Organizations focus on training and helping their employees develop, helping them improve their knowledge and skills to maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Strategic Plan Example: Here is an example to help you understand more about this model:

Assuming you are the owner of a famous coffee brand, here is how you apply this model to your strategic plan.

The Balanced Scorecard model ensures that a business is considering all aspects of its operations and provides a framework for measuring progress and adjusting strategies as needed.

3/ Blue Ocean Strategy Model – Strategic Plan Example 

Blue Ocean Strategy Model  is a strategy of developing and expanding a new market in which there is no competition or competition is unnecessary.

There are six basic principles for the successful implementation of a blue ocean strategy.

  • Reconstruct market boundaries:  Businesses need to rebuild market boundaries to break out of competition and form blue oceans.
  • Focus on the big picture, not the numbers:  Businesses need to focus on the big picture when planning their strategy. Don’t get bogged down in details.
  • Go beyond the existing demands:  Instead of focusing on existing products or services, they need to identify those who are non-customers or potential customers.
  • Get the strategic sequence right:  Businesses need to create a value proposition that differentiates them and adjust internal processes, systems, and people.
  • Overcome organizational obstacles.  To successfully implement the Blue Ocean Strategy, the business will need buy-in from all levels of the organization and communicate strategy effectively.
  • Strategy Execution.  Businesses implement strategy while minimizing operational risks and preventing sabotage from within.

company strategic plan example

Strategic Plan Example: The following is an example of applications of the Blue Ocean Model.

Let’s continue to assume that you are an organic soap business owner. 

  • Reconstruct market boundaries:  Your business can define a new market space by creating a line of soaps that are only for sensitive skin.
  • Focus on the big picture, not the numbers:  Instead of just focusing on profits, your business can create value for customers by emphasizing natural and organic ingredients in soap products.
  • Go beyond the existing demands:  You can tap into new demand by identifying non-customers, such as those with sensitive skin. Then create compelling reasons for them to use your product.
  • Get the strategic sequence right:  Your business can create a value proposition that sets it apart from competitors, in this case with natural and organic ingredients. Then align its internal processes, systems, and people to deliver on that promise.
  • Overcome organizational obstacles:  To successfully implement this strategy, your business needs support from all levels of stakeholders for this new product. 
  • Strategy Execution:  Your business can build performance metrics and adjust the strategy over time to ensure they’re performing effectively.

Here are some popular tools to help you have an effective strategic plan:

Tools For Data Gathering and Analysis

#1 – pest analysis.

PEST is an analysis tool that helps your business understand the “big picture” of the business environment (usually macro-environmental) in which you are participating, thereby identifying opportunities and potential threats. 

company strategic plan example

PEST Analysis will evaluate this environment through the following 4 factors:

  • Politics:  Institutional and legal factors can affect the viability and development of any industry.
  • Economics:  Organizations need to pay attention to both short-term and long-term economic factors and government intervention to decide which industries and areas to invest in.
  • Social:  Each country and territory has its own unique cultural values and social factors. These factors create the characteristics of consumers in those regions, which make a huge impact on all products, services, markets, and consumers.
  • Technology:  Technology is an important factor because it has a profound impact on products, services, markets, suppliers, distributors, competitors, customers, manufacturing processes, marketing practices, and the position of organizations.

PEST analysis helps your business understand the business environment. From there, you can map out a clear strategic plan, make the most of the opportunities that come your way, minimize the threats and easily overcome the challenges.

#2 – Porter’s Five Forces

Five Forces represent 5 competitive forces that need to be analyzed to assess the long-term attractiveness of a market or a segment in a particular industry, thereby helping your business have an effective development strategy. 

Here are those 5 forces

  • Threat from new opponents
  • Power of suppliers
  • Threat from substitute products and services
  • Power of customers
  • The fierce competition of competitors in the same industry

These five factors have a dialectical relationship with each other, showing the competition in the industry. Therefore, you need to analyze these factors and develop strategies to identify what is particularly attractive and outstanding for the business. 

#3 – SWOT Analysis

More than being a model for strategic planning, SWOT is a valuable tool for conducting market analysis. By utilizing SWOT, you can pinpoint the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your organization before implementing a successful strategy.

Tools For Strategy Development and Implementation

#4 – scenario planning .

Scenario planning is a strategic planning tool that considers multiple future scenarios and evaluates their potential for an organization. 

The scenario planning process has two stages:

  • Identifying the key uncertainties and trends that could shape the future.
  • Developing multiple response scenarios based on those factors.

Each scenario describes a different possible future, with its own unique set of assumptions and outcomes. By considering these scenarios, your organization can better understand various possible futures it may face, and develop strategies that are more resilient and adaptable.

company strategic plan example

#5 – Value Chain Analysis

The Value Chain Analysis model is an analytical tool for understanding how the activities within your organization will create value for customers.

There are three steps to performing a value chain analysis for an organization:

  • Divide the organization’s activities into main activities and supporting activities
  • Cost breakdown for each activity
  • Identify the fundamental activities that create customer satisfaction and organizational success

From the three steps above, your organization can more effectively measure its capabilities by identifying and evaluating each activity. Then each value-creation activity is considered a resource to create a competitive advantage for the organization.

#6 – Critical Success Factors

Critical Success Factors (CSF) refer to the causes that lead to the success of a business or set out what employees need to do to help their business to achieve success.

Some helpful questions for determining your business’s CSF include:

  • What factors are likely to lead to the desired outcome of the business?
  • What requirements must exist to produce that result?
  • What tools does the business need to achieve that goal?
  • What skills does the business need to achieve that goal?

By defining the CSF, your business can create a common reference point for what it needs to do to achieve its goals, thereby motivating the workforce to get there.

company strategic plan example

#7 – A Balanced Scorecard

Besides being a model for strategic planning, A Balanced Scorecard is a performance management tool that helps you track progress toward your strategic objectives. It also helps you to measure and communicate your progress to stakeholders.

#8 – Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas

Apart from functioning as a strategic planning model, the Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas assists in recognizing new market opportunities by aligning your organization’s offerings with those of your competitors. 

By using this tool, you can identify areas where your organization can stand out and generate new demand.

Tools For Measurement and Evaluation

#9 – key performance indicators.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a tools to measure and evaluate work performance. KPIs are usually expressed through numbers, ratios, and quantitative indicators, to reflect the performance of groups or divisions of the business.

KPIs help businesses monitor and evaluate the performance of employees in a transparent, clear, specific, and fair manner thanks to specific data.

company strategic plan example

>> Learn more about  KPI versus OKR

Tools For Brainstorming  

#10 – mind mapping.

Mind mapping is a visual tool that can be used during the strategic planning process to help with brainstorming and organizing ideas. It is a method of visually representing information and ideas by drawing a diagram. 

Besides helping discover new ideas, it helps to find connections between various strategic objectives, which can ensure that the strategic plan is comprehensive and effective.

AhaSlides  offers several  features  that can be useful for your strategic planning.

AhaSlides allows you to create engaging and interactive presentations that can be used to communicate complex ideas or gather feedback. Along with  pre-made templates , we also have features like  live polls ,  quizzes , and live  Q&A  sessions that help you encourage engagement. As well as ensuring that all stakeholders have a voice and can provide input into the planning process.

Besides, the  word cloud  allows team members to collaborate and generate new ideas during strategic planning, which can help identify new opportunities or solutions to challenges that may arise.

Overall, AhaSlides is a valuable tool for strategic planning since it promotes communication, cooperation, and data-driven decision-making.

Having a well-defined strategic plan example is critical for any organization to achieve its goals and objectives. Therefore, with the information in the article, your organization may develop a complete strategic plan that is in line with its vision and mission, resulting in long-term growth and success.

And do not forget by using various strategic planning tools and models such as SWOT analysis, Balanced Scorecard, and Blue Ocean Strategy,… your organization can identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, track progress toward its goals, and develop innovative strategies to differentiate itself in the market. 

Besides, digital tools like AhaSlides can aid in the effectiveness of the strategic planning process. 

Best IT strategic plan example?

Creating a comprehensive IT strategic plan is essential for organizations to align their technology initiatives with their overall business goals. While there isn’t a single “best” IT strategic plan that fits all organizations, please remember that the Key Initiatives should include: (1) Identification of major IT initiatives and projects for the planning period. (2) Detailed descriptions of each initiative, including objectives, scope, and expected outcomes. and (3) Alignment of each initiative with specific strategic goals.

What is effective strategic planning?

Effective strategic planning is a structured and forward-thinking process that organizations use to define their long-term vision, set clear objectives, and determine the actions required to achieve their goals. Effective strategic planning goes beyond creating a document; it involves engaging stakeholders, aligning resources, and continually adapting to changing circumstances.

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Strategic Plan Template

Use this free Strategic Plan Template for Word to manage your projects better.

company strategic plan example

When a company wants to map out its long-term business objectives and how it’ll get there, they use a strategic plan. Our free strategic plan template captures all topics that any company needs to define, so everything is aligned with the overall mission and vision of the company. More than that, the free strategic plan template guides you through the actions, resources and costs that will help you get there.

What Is a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan is a document that company leaders use to capture the company’s future vision, goals and objectives. Unlike a business plan that focuses on short-term goals of serval months to several years, a strategic plan looks at the mid-to-long-term goals such as 3-5 years but is often longer than that.

The strategic plan should be easily shared as it provides a map for the whole company to follow in order to meet its goals. The strategic plan isn’t only shared, but it’s thoroughly understood by company employees, customers, business partners and investors.

ProjectManager's free strategic plan template

Strategic planning and the strategic plan that comes from this process isn’t a one-time occurrence. Teams should conduct strategic planning regularly to quickly respond to changes in the business, industry, legal and regulatory conditions. As conditions shift, so should the response plans.

Why You Need a Strategic Plan Template

A strategic plan template is a great tool in that it’s already laid out for you. Everything you need to define is outlined and saves you the time and effort of creating a new document. Templates are great for creating an archive of consistent documentation, especially as historical data can influence your current strategic plan.

In more general terms, all businesses need a target or direction to work towards. Strategic plans are like the roadmap that gets you there and defines the landscape. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there. That’s true from the highest executive to the newest employee as well as customers, investors and so on.

Strategic plans also help you track your goals across departments. Each department can then set its own goals to help the business achieve its larger goals. These various initiatives can be monitored and tracked with key performance indicators (KPIs). This can be extended to business units, teams and even individuals so everyone is working towards the same goals.

A strategic plan template is only a static document. To implement that plan you need project management software. ProjectManager has online roadmaps that allow you to manage all the projects that feed into your company’s overall mission. You can track your tasks, budgets, resources, processes and more, so you know you’re always progressing. Of course, you can build a strategic plan with milestones in the software, too. Try ProjectManager today for free.

Roadmap with a strategic plan

Who Should Use This Strategic Plan Template?

The free strategic plan template can be filled in by any number of people depending on the business. Usually, though, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the owner or top business managers.

However, sometimes specialists are employed or the whole company becomes involved in the strategic planning process. In fact, more voices provide a wider perspective. One person should oversee refining those different perspectives in order to rein in the possible chaos of too many chefs in the kitchen.

Once the strategic plan is finalized, it should be shared among the company. The strategic plan template acts as a guide to keep the long-term goal in sight and how to get there. For some businesses, the customer should also be aware of the strategic plan. Other companies will want to share the strategic plan with investors.

How to Use This Strategic Plan Template

When you download our free strategic plan template for Word, you’ll find it’s broken up into sections. The free template is completely customizable so you can add or subtract as many sections as you need to flesh out your strategic plan. What we provide you with is the backbone of any thorough strategic plan, which is as follows.

1. Executive Summary

To start, you want to summarize what will follow. That’s all the executive summary is; a short introduction to the important information that’ll be fleshed out in the strategic plan. It gives an overview to investors and stakeholders.

2. Vision Statement

A vision statement is a statement that declares the mid-to-long-term goals of the company. Think of it as the target you want to hit with your strategic plan. What this statement should do is project your company into the future and in so doing help to define the plan and execution of getting you there.

3. Mission Statement

The mission statement is a short description of the purpose of the company. It should be no longer than one to three sentences at most and explain what the company does, who it serves and how it’s different from its competitors. But more than a dry definition, it should be inspirational, offering direction and focus for employees and giving customers a clear picture of what they can expect from the company.

4. SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis is used to assess those four aspects of the company. This is how a company can capture its current performance and build a strategy to achieve its future goals. But beyond internal factors or charting the company, make sure to explore external factors as well. This provides a fuller picture of how a company can carve a route to reach its objectives.

5. Business Goals

Business goals should define the target that a company is aiming for in the future. By doing this, a company has a way to measure its success, communicate these goals to its employees and ensure the company is going in the right direction.

6. Marketing Plan

The marketing plan outlines a company’s advertising strategy. It can be used to generate leads and reach a target audience, outreach and PR campaigns. Also included is how the company will measure the effectiveness of the initiatives.

  • Market research:  Uses competitive analysis, testing, surveys, etc., to determine the target audience and what needs the company is fulfilling or pain point it’s resolving.
  • Marketing campaigns: These include promotions, value propositions, differentiation factors, pricing, distribution channels, etc., to see the product or service.
  • Marketing KPIs: Using various metrics will help the company measure the success of its campaigns.

7. Operations Plan

The operation plan is an outline of the strategic plan’s goals and how the company plans to meet them. It’s an action plan that shows team members what they’re responsible for in achieving the goals of the strategic plan.

8. Financial Projections

When making financial projections for a company’s strategic plans they should include a forecast of the income statement, the balance sheet and the cash flow statement. These financial projects like the strategic plan are mid-to-long term.

Identify the team members with the skills and experience who will be responsible for executing the operational plan set forth in the company’s strategic plan.

Other Templates to Help with Your Strategic Plan

The free strategic plan document template for Word is a helpful tool to outline a company’s mid-to-long-term objectives. We have dozens of other free templates for Word and Excel that can help you manage every phase of a project, from planning to closure. Here are just a few of the free templates that we offer for download that are related to strategic planning.

Executive Summary Template

If you need help with the executive summary portion of the free strategic plan template, this free executive summary template is a great asset. It breaks down the points you’ll want to capture for an effective executive summary and is a valuable tool to complete that section of the strategic plan.

Marketing Campaign Template

The marketing plan is another section of the strategic plan that can be fully fleshed out with the free marketing campaign template. It outlines all the steps you need to introduce your product or service to market. It has fields to collect the goals of the campaign, identify the target audience and much more.

SWOT Analysis Template 

We’ve included a small SWOT analysis table in the free strategic plan template, but you might want more space to capture this important data. If so, use our free SWOT analysis template for Word, which you can then attach to the strategic plan template. This colorful template helps you see where you are and offer guidance to get you where you want to be.

ProjectManager Is a Robust Planning Tool

Free templates are a great way to gather information and develop a strategic plan, but they’re not as good at managing that plan once you implement it. You need more robust tools, not static documents or spreadsheets. ProjectManager is online project management software that connects teams and helps them plan, manage and track their progress in real time.

Track Progress with Real-Time Dashboards

You’ve put the strategic plan in the Gantt chart and can now see the roadmap in a visual timeline. But to make sure you keep to that schedule you need to have a way to monitor progress and performance. Our real-time dashboards track metrics such as time, cost and more all in real time so you can respond quickly to changes that threaten your goals. Unlike other lightweight tools, there’s no configuration or set. It’s ready when you are.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

Work How You Want with Multiple Project Views

Gantt charts are great for managers, but they’re not the ones who are will execute the strategic plan. It’s a group effort that involves every department in the company from marketing and sales to IT and manufacturing, and they all use different tools. That’s why we offer multiple project views that share the same real-time data whether you’re using a list view, the visual workflow of a kanban or a calendar to capture important dates. Everyone is working from a single source of truth.

Calendar for tracking strategic plans

Related Content

Strategic planning is a big subject and we’ve only scratched the surface. If you want to learn more, you’re in luck. ProjectManager isn’t only a great tool to create and manage your strategic plan, it’s also the online hub for all things project management. We have free blogs each week, tutorial videos, eBooks, white pages and, of course, free templates. Here are a few links to follow and read more about strategic plans.

  • 15 Free Word and Excel Templates for Business
  • Strategic Planning in Business
  • Strategic Planning Models: An Introduction to 5 Popular Models
  • A Quick Guide to Strategic Initiatives 

ProjectManager Helps You Reach Your Strategic Goals

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you plan, manage and track your strategic plans. Our collaborative platform connects everyone across departments and time zones. With features that help you manage risk, tasks and resources you’re more likely to adjust to changes in the market and hit your target. See why teams in organizations as varied as NASA, Siemens and Nestle use our tool to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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The 7 Best Business Strategy Examples I've Ever Seen

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Most entrepreneurs dream of an innovative product or service that surprises their rivals and takes new markets by storm. What they tend to forget is that there needs to be an excellent business strategy accompanying the product. 

I get it - it’s not nearly as interesting to fantasize about a competitive strategy. Yet without it, even genius products can quickly drown in the harsh business sea. Most strategies fail. A sobering 9 out of 10 organizations fail to execute their strategy.

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I’ve already written about the 5 worst business strategy examples of all time and why many strategies fail . But today, we’ll flip the script and take a look at products and strategies that delighted their target customers and wildly exceeded initial business goals.

From Tesla, Airbnb, and Toyota to Hubspot, Apple, and Paypal - let’s dive into their business strategies and see why these 7 are the best ones I’ve ever seen:

  • Tesla - Playing the long game
  • Airbnb - Forgetting all about scalability
  • Toyota - Humility can be the best business strategy
  • HubSpot - Creating an industry then dominating it
  • Apple - iPhone launch shows tremendous restraint
  • PayPal - Daring to challenge the status quo
  • Spotify - Changing the rules of the music industry

But before we get into these business strategy examples, let's briefly go over some of the basics...

What is a business strategy?

A business strategy , also known as a company strategy, is a crucial aspect of running a successful business. It is a defined plan of action that outlines the direction a business wants to take and defines how the plan will cascade through the organization by the allocation of resources. The importance of a business strategy cannot be overstated as it sets the direction for the entire organization and helps to align all employees towards a common goal . Overall, a business strategy serves as a roadmap for a company, guiding its actions and decisions to achieve its goals and stay competitive in the marketplace. 

👉 If you have any unanswered questions about business strategies, check our FAQs at the end of this article! 

🎁 Struggling to build your Business Strategy? Use our free customizable  Business Strategy Template to easily develop and execute it!

Best business strategies #1: Tesla Playing the long game

Conventional business logic is that when you're starting something new, you create a 'Minimal Viable Product' or MVP.

Essentially that means that you make a version of your product that is very light in terms of functionality and focuses mostly on showcasing your main competitive advantage.

It also means that the first version of your product usually has to be sold at a reasonably low starting price to compensate for its lack of features and generate interest.

Some organizations (including many tech startups) take this concept even further and base their growth strategy around a freemium pricing model . In this business model, the most basic version of the product or service is free, but any new or upgraded features cost money. 

Tesla, on the other hand, did things the other way around. It's been known for a long time that Tesla's long-term goal is to be the biggest car company in the world. They know that in order to become the biggest by volume, they're going to have to succeed in the lower-end consumer car space (price tag US$30,000 or less).

But Tesla did not focus on this market first. It did not create a cheap low-featured version of their electric car (and therefore benefit from economies of scale ).

Instead, Tesla created the most luxurious, expensive, fully-featured sports car they could afford. That car was the Tesla Roadster, and for context, the newest generation of the Roadster will retail from upwards of US$200,000 for the base model. 

This was the first car they ever produced - knowing that they couldn't achieve the necessary scale or efficiency to turn a profit (even at such a high price). However, such a car was in-line with Tesla’s vision statement where they aim “to create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”

Fast-forward to today, and Tesla dwarfs the competition as the most valuable car company in the world. So their differentiation strategy certainly seems to be working, but why?

most valuable brands within the automotive sector worldwide as of 2022, by brand value(in billion U.S. dollars) source statista

What can we learn from Tesla?

The first thing to note is that Tesla has made incredible progress towards its business objective of mass-produced, affordable electric cars. They've even made a genuine annual profit for the first time in their history. 

Secondly, much of Tesla's business strategy was actually forced upon it. There was no way they could have created a cost-effective mass-market electric car.

As a startup, they didn’t have the resources or capabilities to reap the benefits of economies of scale. Because they were creating such a unique car, they couldn't rely on outsourcing or suppliers to gain mass-production benefits.

Fortunately, Tesla's supply chain strategy is one of the most brilliant moves they've made. They knew early on that batteries would present the biggest technological hurdle to their cars and the biggest bottleneck to production.

Rather than let this derail them, they took complete control of their supply chain by investing in battery manufacturers. This has the additional benefit of simplifying diversification as Tesla can use those same batteries in parallel business ventures such as their Powerwall.

Of course, Tesla’s business strategy required vast capital and fundraising (Elon is rich but not quite rich enough to fund it all himself). That's where the marketing genius of Tesla kicks in. 

For the most part, their marketing efforts are only partially about their cars. Tesla is seen as Elon Musk's personal brand, and that had an enormous impact on whether or not they got the investment they needed.

He's smart, divisive, wild, and ambitious. But whatever you think about Elon Musk, you'd be hard-pressed to traverse more than a couple of consecutive news cycles without seeing him on the front page. And that's a fantastic recipe for getting the attention of investors.

Tesla studied and adapted to the industry and business environment they would operate in. They knew their strengths, understood their market position, and built their strategy around their own findings instead of following conventional wisdom.

👉 Use the Tesla Strategy Plan Template to get inspired by Tesla's Strategy to build your own!

📚Learn more about Tesla in our Strategy Study: How Tesla Became The World’s Most Valuable Automotive Company.

Best business strategies #2: Airbnb Forgetting all about scalability

Airbnb is one of the fastest-growing tech companies. Shortly after their IPO in December 2020, they reached a US$100B+ valuation, and the company has quite possibly changed the way we travel forever. But did you know they started out about as low-tech as you can get?

It all began with co-founders Brian and Joe renting out 3 air mattresses on their apartment’s floor. They made $80 per guest. It seemed like a great idea for a startup, so they launched a website and invited other people to list their own mattresses for hire.

They got a few bookings here and there, but things didn't go well for the most part. So much so that in 2008, they resorted to selling cereal to make ends meet.

They had plenty of listings on the site and plenty of site traffic. Potential customers were out there, but they weren’t making enough bookings.

They identified the most likely problem - the low quality of listings that were simply not enticing. So Brian and Joe decided to take matters into their own hands.

The co-founders grabbed their cameras and visited every one of their NYC listings. They persuaded the owners to let them take a ton of photographs of their places.

They touched them up a bit and uploaded them to the website, replacing the old, usually bad photos. Within a month of starting this strategy, sales doubled. Then tripled. The rest is history.

best business strategies airbnb

What can we learn from Airbnb?

The thing I love the most about this story is that it opposes one of the most commonly stated principles of building a tech startup - “everything must be scalable” .

What Brian and Joe did was anything but scalable. But it got them enough traction to prove that their concept could work. 

Later, they did scale their initial solution by hiring young photographers in major locations and paying them to take professional photos of owners’ listings (at no charge to the owner).

They also added a bunch of guidelines and articles on the site to educate owners on how they can make more money by taking better photos.

Airbnb's story shows that business strategies don’t have to be grand and super long-term affairs.

They can revolve around a specific challenge preventing the business from taking off. Once the challenge is solved, the company progresses on its roadmap and integrates the solution into the revamped business strategy.

airbnb quarterly revenue 2019 to 2022 ($mm)

Source: Airbnb third quarter 2022 financial results

👉 Use the Airbnb Strategy Plan Template to get inspired by Airbnb's Strategy to build your own!

Best business strategies #3: Toyota Humility can be the best business strategy

In 1973, the 'Big Three' car makers in the USA had over 82% of the market share. Today they have less than 50%. Why? Because of the aggressive (and unexpected) entry of Japanese carmakers into the US market in the 1970s - led by Toyota.

Cars are big, heavy, and expensive to ship around in large numbers. That's one of the reasons the US market was caught off guard when Toyota started selling Japanese-made cars in the US at lower prices than they could match.

The car industry was a huge contributor to the US economy, so one of the first reactions from the government was the implementation of protectionist taxes on all imported cars - thus making Japanese cars as expensive as locally made cars.

But the tactic failed. Within a few years, Toyota had managed to establish production on US soil, thus eliminating the need to pay any of the hefty new import taxes. At first, US carmakers weren't all that worried.

Surely by having to move production to the US, the costs for the Japanese carmakers would be roughly the same as those of the local car companies. 

Well, that didn't happen. Toyota continued its cost leadership strategy. It still manufactured cars for significantly less money than US companies could.

Their finely honed production processes were so efficient and lean that they could beat US carmakers at their own game. You've probably heard of the notion of ' continuous improvement '. In manufacturing, Toyota is pretty much synonymous with the term.

US Car Sales Graph- January through May 2021 vs 2020

us car sales graph 2020 to 2021

Source: GOODCARBADCAR

What can we learn from Toyota?

Most business success stories involve bold moves and daring ideas. But not this one. 

Toyota spent years studying the production lines of American carmakers such as Ford. They knew that the US car industry was more advanced and efficient than the Japanese industry. So they decided to be patient.

They studied their competitors and tried to copy what the Americans did so well. They blended these processes with their strengths and came up with something even better.

Toyota proved that knowing one's weaknesses can be the key to success - and be one of the best business strategies you can ever deploy.

Not just that. Can you name a single famous executive at Toyota? I can't. And one of the reasons is that Toyota's number one corporate value is humility. It helped them crack the US market, and it runs deep in the organization - from top management to assembly workers.

Toyota’s success is based on continuously improving its functional level strategy , which focuses on day-to-day operations , decisions, and goals. They understood that the bigger picture consists of thousands of small tasks and employees.

They took a big goal, such as “becoming a cost leader in our category without compromising quality”, and ensured that their mission impacted every level of the organization while staying true to their core values.

👉 Use the Toyota Strategy Plan Template to get inspired by Toyota's Strategy to build your own!

📚Learn more about Toyota in our Strategy Study: How Toyota Went From Humble Beginnings To Automotive Giant .

Best business strategies #4: HubSpot Creating an industry then dominating it

HubSpot might not be as famous as Airbnb or Toyota. However, being valued at $22.72 billion in 2022 means, they’re certainly no slouch.

And most impressively, they’ve become such a successful company in an industry that didn’t even exist before they invented it.

Most of the marketing we experience is known as 'interruption' marketing. This is where adverts are pushed out to you whether you like it or not. Think tv adverts, billboards, Google Adwords, etc. 

In 2004, HubSpot created a software platform that aimed to turn this marketing concept on its head. The HubSpot marketing platform helped companies write blog posts, create eBooks, and share their content on social media.

The theory was that if you could produce enough good quality content to pull people to your website, then enough of them might stick around to take a look at the product you're actually selling. Useful content created specifically for your target market should also increase customer retention.

This approach was a big deal. I can tell you from personal experience that 'interruption marketing' is really expensive. We pay Google around $10 each time someone clicks on one of our AdWords adverts. Remember, that's $10 per click, not per sale. It adds up pretty fast.

On the other hand, this blog receives more than one million clicks per year. Each article keeps generating clicks at no additional costs once it’s written and published. 

Inbound marketing basically saved our business - so it's fair to say that this example is pretty close to my heart!

Hubspot coined the term 'inbound marketing' - and long story short, they're now one of the biggest SaaS companies in the world. But that's not the interesting part of the story.

What can we learn from HubSpot?

Hubspot’s successful business strategy is based on a new type of marketing. Now here’s the twist that separates it from generic strategies: Hubspot used their new marketing approach to market their own company, whose sole purpose was to sell a platform that created that new type of marketing. Head hurting yet? Mine too.

Most companies would have taken that new approach and applied it to something they were already selling. But instead, the HubSpot guys decided to monetize the marketing strategy itself. 

They took a whole bunch of concepts that already existed (blogging, eBooks, etc.) and packaged them into an innovative product - ‘a new way of doing things'. 

They created an awesome narrative and proved how powerful their new way of marketing could be by building a business worth billions around it. 

Their best and biggest case study was their own product, and they had all the numbers and little details to showcase to the world it really works.

hubspot quarterly revenue q3 2022 ($m)

Source: Hubspot overview

👉 Use the Hubspot Strategy Plan Template to get inspired by Hubspot's Strategy to build your own!

Best business strategies #5: Apple iPhone launch shows tremendous restraint

Ok, I hear you - this is such an obvious inclusion for the 'best business strategies'. But as one of the first people to adopt smartphones when they came out in the 1990s, this is something else that's close to my heart. 

I remember using Windows Mobile (the original version ) on a touchscreen phone with a stylus - and it was horrible. I loved the fact that I had access to my email and my calendar on my phone.

But I hated that my phone was the size of a house and required you to press the screen with ox-like strength before any kind of input would register.

Thankfully, a few years later, BlackBerry came along and started to release phones that were not only smart but much more usable. Sony Ericsson, Nokia, HTC, and a whole host of other manufacturers came out with reasonably solid smartphones well before 2007 when Apple finally released the iPhone.

I remember arriving at the office one day, and my boss had somehow gotten his hands on one of the first iPhones to be sold in the UK. I was shocked. Normally I was the early adopter. I was the one showing people what the future looked like.

And yet, here was this guy in his mid 50's, with his thick glasses, showing off a bit of technology that I'd never even seen before.

Apple could easily have created a phone much earlier than it did and sold it to me and a few other early adopters.

But it didn't. Instead, it waited until the technology was mature enough to sell it to my boss - someone who is far less tech-savvy than me. But also far more financially equipped to spend plenty of money on new tech products.

mobile-brand-market-share-united-states-2022

What can we learn from Apple?

The big learning here is that first-mover advantage is often not an advantage. A well-executed 'follower' strategy will outperform a less well-executed 'first mover' strategy every single time. 

One of the most common misconceptions in the startup world is that it's the 'idea' that matters the most. The truth is, the world's most successful companies were rarely the original innovators. I'm looking at you, Nokia. At you, Kodak. And at you as well, Yahoo.

In fact, being first is probably a disadvantage more often than it's an advantage. Why?

  • Your market isn't well defined and doesn't even know your product type exists.
  • If you have a market, it's probably just the early adopters - by definition, that's a niche market.
  • Technology will often hold you back rather than power you to success.
  • Every business that comes after you will have the advantage of learning from your mistakes.

People, and especially tech companies, get carried away with being first and forget that it’s a competitive position with pros and cons. Deciding to be a 'first mover' or 'smart follower' is crucial for strategic planning .

It’s a decision that should be based on research such as swot analysis and not on pride or blind optimism as it can make all the difference between success and failure.

Bonus reading : 18 Free Strategic Plan Templates (Excel & Cascade)

👉 Use the Apple Strategy Plan Template to get inspired by Apple's Strategy to build your own!

📚Learn more about Apple in our Strategy Study: How Apple Became the Top Non-Corporate Tech Brand .

Best business strategies #6: PayPal Daring to challenge the status quo

There are certain industries that you just don't mess with. Industries like aerospace, big supermarkets, semiconductors, and banking. Actually, banking is probably the toughest industry to try to disrupt because the barrier to entry is huge.

You need mountains of capital, a ton of regulatory approval, and years of building trust with your customers around their most important asset - cash.

Banks are old. Their business models have been essentially unchanged for hundreds of years. They're insanely powerful and almost impossible to displace. But for some crazy reason - PayPal didn't seem to care.

I can tell you from personal experience (I worked for a bank) that the name which strikes the most fear into the executives of the banks is PayPal.

Here's why:

  • PayPal spends less money on technology than even a medium-sized bank does. Yet its technology platform is far superior.
  • Consumers trust PayPal as much if not more than they trust their bank. Even though PayPal has been around for a fraction of the time.
  • When a customer uses their PayPal account, the bank has no clue what the customer bought. The transaction appears on the bank statement as merely 'PayPal'. That gives PayPal all the power when it comes to data mining.
  • PayPal is quicker to market with just about any kind of payment innovation.
  • PayPal refuses to partner with banks - instead opting to partner with retailers directly.

In a very short time, PayPal has emerged as a new payment method - giving a very real alternative to your trusty debit or credit card. PayPal has also become one of the best payment platforms for digital nomads , tapping into one of the fastest-growing business trends in the world.

But how the heck did it manage to do it? Let's take a look at why PayPal had one of the best business strategies ever.

What can we learn from PayPal?

There are two main reasons behind PayPal's success story. 

The first is simple - stone-cold balls. They got a fairly lucky break when they accidentally became the favored payment provider for eBay transactions. A few years later, Paypal was even acquired by eBay for US$1.5bn.

eBay was smart enough to mostly leave Paypal alone, and their newfound sense of boldness saw them strike a series of deals with other online retailers to try and replicate the success they'd had with eBay.

This is where the second reason comes in. Partnerships. Banks had always been wary about forming partnerships with retailers directly. Instead, they relied on their scheme partners (Visa / MasterCard) to do it for them.

They didn't want the hassle of managing so many different relationships and were extremely confident that credit and debit cards would always be at the heart of the payment system. But the problem was that MasterCard was already working on a partnership with PayPal. 

Today, PayPal commends an amazing 54% share of the payment processing market. Almost all of that growth has come from their direct relationships with large and small merchants.

It shows that even in the toughest and most competitive markets, you can still find opportunities worth exploring and uncover a key to a very good business strategy.

paypal market share 2022 statista

Market share of online payment processing software technologies worldwide Sep 2022. Source: Statista

👉 Use the PayPal Strategy Plan Template to get inspired by Paypal's Strategy to build your own!

Best business strategies #7: Spotify Changing the rules of the music industry

Before Spotify came along, the world of online music streaming was pretty lackluster. Sure, you had platforms like Napster and The Pirate Bay, but they were illegal and you never knew when they would get shut down. And even if you did use them, you were still pretty limited in terms of what you could listen to. On the other hand, you had platforms like iTunes and Pandora, but they had their own set of problems. With iTunes, you had to pay for each and every song, which was a total bummer. And Pandora, you couldn't listen to whatever song you wanted, it was more like a radio station. Basically, people were craving for a better way to listen to music, one that was legal and gave them the freedom to choose what they wanted to listen to. And that's where Spotify comes in. When Spotify launched in 2008, it was a game-changer. They took the best parts of platforms like Napster and The Pirate Bay (the ability to share music), but made it legal. And they also took the best parts of platforms like iTunes and Pandora (the ability to choose what you want to listen to), and made it better. As we all know, it turned out to be quite an effective business strategy.

What can we learn from Spotify?

Spotify nailed it by putting their customers at the forefront of their business strategy. They saw that people were fed up with the limitations of other music streaming platforms and decided to create a service that put the customer's needs and wants first. They invested in technology and engineers to ensure the experience was seamless and easy for listeners, and it worked like a charm. People flocked to Spotify like bees to honey because it gave them the freedom and control over their music choices that they craved. Another big part of Spotify's success was (and still is) their freemium business model. They offered a free version of the service, but also had premium options for those who wanted more features and services. This allowed them to attract a huge user base and generate revenue from both the free and paying users. This model helped Spotify grow its user base and revenue quickly, more than exceeding their business goals.

spotify launch free and premium monthly active users

And let's not forget about their data-driven approach. They invested heavily in data analysis and machine learning, which allowed them to create algorithms to predict which songs and artists users will like and recommend them accordingly - going one step further into user personalization. This helped to drive engagement and loyalty, making Spotify the go-to platform for discovering new music and creating playlists.

👉 Use the Spotify Strategy Plan Template to get inspired by Spotify's Strategy to build your own!

📚Learn more about Spotify in our Strategy Study: How Spotify Became The Standard In Convenience And Accessibility .

More excellent business strategy examples

You just got familiar with my personal selection of top business strategies. But these 7 are just the tip of the iceberg! If you’re looking for more examples and lessons from the very best businesses in the world, download the free 56 strategies report . It’s a selection of cases that covers plenty of really interesting situations. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

What's the difference between a business strategy and a corporate strategy?

A business strategy refers to the business plan for a specific business unit level within a company, while a corporate strategy deals with the overall direction and scope of the entire organization at the functional level.

A successful business strategy focuses on achieving specific business objectives within a certain market or industry, and is often developed as part of a larger business plan. While a corporate-level strategy focuses on achieving corporate objectives and aligning the entire organization's key components to achieve competitive advantage and meet organizational goals.

What are the key components of a successful business strategy?

A successful business strategy includes the following key components:

  • Identifying and targeting a specific market or industry
  • Developing a unique value proposition
  • Creating a business plan with relevant focus areas to achieve the business objectives
  • Define the specific actions that will ensure those objectives are met
  • Determine the measures or KPIs that will drive success and ensure execution
  • Continuously monitoring and adjusting the strategy to meet the organizational goals

How does a business strategy contribute to achieving corporate objectives?

A business strategy is designed to achieve specific business objectives within a certain market or industry, which in turn contributes to achieving the overall corporate objectives of the organization .

By aligning the efforts of the individual business units with the overall direction and scope of the company, a business strategy helps to create a unified approach towards achieving competitive advantage and meeting organizational goals.

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How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan: 4 Steps

A business professional seated at a table with a laptop on it with the words "Marketing Strategy" and several icons.

  • 08 Feb 2024

Digital marketing is essential; it helps you connect with customers via online channels and enhance brand awareness. To ensure your campaigns succeed, you need an effective digital marketing plan and strategy.

Not all businesses understand strategic planning's importance. According to a Smart Insights report , only 17 percent clearly define their digital marketing strategies.

If you want to create a digital marketing plan, here’s an overview of what it needs and four steps to take.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is a Digital Marketing Plan & Why Is It Important?

Technology has revolutionized business, but that doesn’t mean traditional marketing tactics are obsolete.

“There are certain aspects of marketing that remain true no matter how technology changes,” says Harvard Business School Professor Sunil Gupta, who teaches the course Digital Marketing Strategy . “One of these aspects is the importance of developing a plan to effectively use your marketing resources.”

A digital marketing plan is a comprehensive strategy outlining how your company will use digital channels to promote its products and services. Unlike traditional marketing tactics, it focuses on identifying your target audience and connecting with consumers via online platforms and channels.

Your plan’s significance can’t be overstated. It provides a strategic focus while optimizing your marketing efforts and budget. More importantly, it ensures your company remains agile and responsive to market dynamics and maintains a competitive edge.

Adaptability is particularly crucial in times of uncertainty. According to HubSpot , 20 percent of marketers pivoted their established marketing plans last year due to the potential for a recession.

To help craft your digital marketing plan, here are four steps to ensuring it’s comprehensive and can weather market challenges.

4 Steps to Creating a Digital Marketing Plan

1. set goals & objectives.

The first step to creating your digital marketing plan is understanding what goals and objectives are essential to succeed.

“Companies often have multiple objectives, and you’ll need to prioritize and balance these goals,” Gupta says in Digital Marketing Strategy . “Often these goals are tied to the overall strategy of the company.”

For example, if you don’t work at a big-name company, you may want to focus on brand awareness. If you’re a market leader, you may want to expand your target audience by highlighting a new or revised product or service.

The best way to determine your company’s objectives is by identifying its challenges and opportunities throughout the customer journey , which has three stages:

  • Awareness: Introducing customers to your brand or product to address a problem they have
  • Consideration: Making customers aware of your brand or product while they evaluate alternatives
  • Decision: Using information gathered during the previous stages to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions

“Which stage of the funnel you focus on and how you allocate your budget across different stages depends on the specific context of your brand and where you feel is the greatest barrier for your growth,” Gupta says in Digital Marketing Strategy .

Your company's strategic decisions hinge on which customer journey stage they pertain to. For example, to increase conversion rates at the consideration stage, you could allocate more resources to producing targeted, personalized content.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

Your digital marketing strategy is only effective if you know who you’re trying to attract. That’s why identifying your target audience —the consumers most likely interested in your products or services—is the next step to crafting your digital marketing plan.

To determine your target audience, collect data related to:

  • Demographics: General information like age, gender, and occupation that help you make implicit assumptions about customers
  • Customer behavior: Behavior patterns related to your products or services, such as purchasing history and website interactions
  • Consumer motivations: Primary motivations when making purchases, such as convenience, value, or status

You can use your insights to employ tactics like segmentation —organizing your customers into groups.

“While you can try and market a product to everyone, consumers have different needs and preferences,” Gupta says in Digital Marketing Strategy . “What appeals to one group of consumers may not appeal to another.”

By segmenting your customers, you can provide personalized experiences—even when their needs or market conditions shift.

Related: 3 Most Common Types of Customer Needs to Be Aware Of

3. Define Your Value Proposition

Once you know who to target, you can communicate your value proposition .

“If you want to convince consumers to buy your product, you need to give them a compelling reason to purchase your brand instead of a competing brand,” Gupta says in Digital Marketing Strategy .

To start, you need to know your:

  • Target audience
  • Unique value
  • Competitive set
  • Justifications for brand value

You can then combine these components into a value positioning statement:

For [target market] , [Brand X] is the only brand that offers [unique value claim] among all [competitive set] because [reason to believe] .

Digital Marketing Strategy | Develop digital marketing strategies that reach and retain customers | Learn More

According to Digital Marketing Strategy , you can analyze your value claim’s validity and potency using the three C’s of brand positioning:

  • Consumer analysis: Understanding your target audience’s behaviors, needs, preferences, and motivations.
  • Competitor analysis: Evaluating your competitors' strengths, weaknesses, and market position to enhance your strategy.
  • Company analysis: Assessing your value proposition, capabilities, resources, and performance to identify areas for strategic improvement.

Effective brand positioning requires being faithful to your value claim and ensuring it’s feasible and favorable.

“As you work to create a value proposition, remember: A brand’s position is not just defined by the brand itself,” Gupta says in the course. “A brand co-creates its position with its consumers as they interact with each other and react to emerging cultural trends.”

4. Establish Metrics

Metrics are critical to your marketing plan. Without key performance indicators (KPIs) , it can be difficult to tell whether it’s effective.

Common marketing KPIs include:

  • Impressions
  • Click through rate
  • Conversion rate

“At the simplest level, you need to measure what you set out to achieve with your marketing objectives,” Gupta says in Digital Marketing Strategy . “And certain metrics will be more relevant for specific stages of the funnel.”

For example, you can focus on metrics like impressions —the number of times your brand-specific content was displayed—to determine your strategy’s effectiveness at the awareness stage.

With a well-crafted digital marketing plan, you can use metrics to optimize your strategy as priorities shift throughout the customer journey.

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Create Your Own Digital Marketing Plan

If you want to be a more strategic marketer, you need a digital marketing plan. With one, you can solidify your company’s position, enhance your digital marketing skills , and satisfy customers.

“Determining your marketing goals, who you’re reaching, understanding the uniqueness of what you have to offer them, and how you’ll measure the value of your marketing efforts isn’t always easy,” Gupta says in Digital Marketing Strategy . “However, as you clarify these components and create your plan, you’ll have a much clearer path ahead toward identifying, acquiring, and retaining customers.”

One of the most effective ways to learn how to craft a plan is by enrolling in an online marketing course, such as Digital Marketing Strategy . Through real-world case studies and interactive exercises, you can understand how to position your brand for success.

Do you want to create a digital marketing plan? Explore Digital Marketing Strategy to discover how. If you’re interested in exploring online education but aren’t sure where to start, download our free guide to online learning success .

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Free Annual Plan Templates: Excel, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Google Slides

By Kate Eby | January 17, 2024

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We’ve collected the top annual plan templates in Excel, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Google Slides. Use the templates to build a 12-month strategy that streamlines the annual planning process based on the company’s vision for goal-setting. 

Included on this page, you’ll find an  annual plan slide template , a  yearly planning template with Gantt chart , an  annual planning template with a calendar , and more. You’ll also learn about the  differences between an annual and a strategic plan , as well as  how to create an annual plan .

Annual Plan Templates vs. Strategic Plan

An annual plan and a strategic plan serve different purposes for building and organizing a growth strategy. A strategic plan focuses on a company’s direction and long-term goals. The annual plan defines actionable steps to achieve yearly goals. 

Review the matrix below to understand the differences between an annual plan template and a strategic plan template.

Simple Annual Plan Template

Simple Annual Plan Template

Download a Simple Annual Plan Template for

Excel | Microsoft Word

Ease your way into annual planning with this simple template that organizes any company’s annual goals, objectives, timelines, and budget. Complete the  Overview, Strategies, and  Global Priorities sections to build a foundation for goal-setting. Then use the table to list objectives, timelines, owners, budgets, and statuses. Reuse this template year after year to save time and to streamline the annual planning process.

Annual Plan Slide Template

Annual Plan Slide Template

Download an Annual Plan Slide Template for 

PowerPoint | Google Slides  

Use this annual plan template to outline and present a high-level one-year plan to stakeholders. Objectives are organized by quarters, so it’s easy to follow their timelines. Add more slides, including the company’s marketing plan, sales plan, or strategic plan to create a comprehensive presentation of the company’s overarching goals.

Yearly Planning Excel Template with Gantt Chart

Yearly Planning Template with Gantt Chart

Download the Yearly Planning Template with Gantt Chart in Excel  

Use this yearly planning template with a Gantt chart to list annual objectives. This template is similar to the simple annual plan, but adds a Gantt chart to provide a visual representation of each deliverable’s timeline. Enter the start date and due date for each objective. The template will automatically populate the dates into a Gantt chart making it easy to track each objective’s progress and ensure the plan stays on course.

Annual Planning Template with Calendar

Annual Planning Template with Calendar

Download an Annual Planning Template with Calendar 

Excel | Microsoft Word  

Track important deadlines with this annual planning calendar template. This template has all the features of the simple annual plan template but adds a calendar. The calendar format provides space to enter details under any day of the year. Promote timeline transparency and guarantee deliverables meet their due dates by sharing this template with your team.

How to Create an Annual Plan

Create an annual plan by first reviewing the previous year’s wins and losses to determine where to focus the upcoming year’s efforts. Brainstorm annual goals, list the actions to achieve them, and assign the action steps to team members. 

Start drafting an annual plan in Q4 to prepare for the upcoming year. Follow the steps below to create an effective annual plan that drives revenue and growth to any business.   

  • Review the Previous Year Meet with stakeholders and review the previous year’s plan and successes. Identify areas that need improvement. This review process will help determine where to focus efforts next year. You can skip this step if it’s the company’s first time creating an annual plan.
  • Download an Annual Plan Template Download the simple annual plan template. Using a template will help ensure you don’t miss any vital sections of the plan.
  • Enter the Company’s Vision Statement The vision statement describes the company’s long-term aspirations, so keep it at the forefront of the decision-making and goal-setting processes.  
  • Brainstorm Annual Goals Collaborate with stakeholders and determine what you want to achieve in the upcoming year. Use last year’s wins and losses to set realistic goals that align with the company’s vision statement.
  • List Objectives List the action steps required to meet the goals. Categorize them into sections, such as marketing, financial, customer experience, product, etc. 
  • Set Timelines Set a start date and end date for each objective. Annual plans are often broken down into quarters, but it’s not uncommon to set monthly and weekly timelines. 
  • Determine a Budget Determine a budget based on financial projections. This step helps allocate resources teams or departments will have available to them, which will make planning more realistic.
  • Identify Metrics Decide what metrics to use for tracking and monitoring results. The data these provide is important for measuring if objectives are being met.
  • Assign Responsibility Assign a team, department, or individual to each deliverable to ensure nothing is missed.  
  • Share with Team Members Share the annual plan with team members to create alignment and build motivation around working toward specific goals.

Elements in an Annual Plan

Elements in an annual plan include everything necessary to outline a comprehensive plan for growing any company. Here is a list of elements found in a general annual plan:     

  • Budget: The funds allocated to each goal or objective.
  • KPIs:  The tools and metrics used to measure the success of the objectives.
  • Objectives: Objectives are the action steps to achieve the goals.
  • Owner: The owner is the team, department, or individual responsible for completing an objective.
  • SMART Goals:  This represents a type of goal-setting where each should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Learn more about  setting SMART goals .
  • Strategies:  List the marketing strategies, operational strategies, and sales strategies to provide a comprehensive framework that drives coordinated efforts.
  • Timeline:  The length of time dedicated to each deliverable. Deliverable timelines are typically quarters, but they can also be monthly or weekly.
  • Values and Mission Statement: These document the foundation for decision making and goal setting.

Different Types Of Annual Plans

Different types of annual plans support specific areas such as budgeting, marketing, operations, and more. Choose an annual plan from the list below that best fits your company’s needs and growth strategy.

Free Annual Sales Report Templates

Annual Sales Report Spreadsheet Template

Use an  annual sales report template to track yearly sales activities and trends.

Free Annual Business Budget Templates

Annual Business Budget Template

Use an  annual business budget template to evaluate business expenditures vs. revenue over a one-year period.

Free Operational Plan Templates

Basic Operational Plan Template

Use an  operational plan template to lay out specific actions and resources needed to reach certain milestones.

Annual Report Template

Nonprofit Annual Report Template

Use this  annual report template to document the company’s yearly accomplishments, impact stories, financial data, and donor list.

Annual Marketing Report

Annual Marketing Report Template

Use this  annual marketing report template to document the total projects delivered, KPIs, and marketing financial overview.

Create Your Annual Plan in Smartsheet and Get Gantt Chart and Calendar Views

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

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Blueprint is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service focused on helping readers make smarter decisions. We receive compensation from the companies that advertise on Blueprint which may impact how and where products appear on this site. The compensation we receive from advertisers does not influence the recommendations or advice our editorial team provides in our articles or otherwise impact any of the editorial content on Blueprint. Blueprint does not include all companies, products or offers that may be available to you within the market. A list of selected affiliate partners is available here .

Free business plan template (with examples)

Alan Bradley

Sierra Campbell

Sierra Campbell

“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.

Updated 3:37 a.m. UTC Feb. 12, 2024

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Featured Image

AzmanL, Getty Images

Starting a business can be a daunting undertaking. As with so many large projects, one of the most difficult challenges is just getting started, and one of the best ways to start is by putting together a plan. A plan is also a powerful tool for communication and can serve as a cornerstone for onboarding new partners and employees or for demonstrating your philosophy and priorities to potential collaborators. 

A solid business plan will not only provide a framework for your business going forward but will also give you an early opportunity to organize and refine your thoughts and define your mission statement, providing a guidepost that can serve as a beacon for your business for years to come. We’ve provided a business plan template below to help guide you in the creation of your new enterprise.

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Business plan template

What should a business plan include?

Regardless of the type of business you own or the products and services you provide, every business plan should include some core elements:

  • Mission statement. The definition and executive summary of your business.
  • Market analysis. A breakdown of the market segment and customers you hope to reach, built through primary (gathered by you) and secondary (gathered from outside sources) research.
  • Organization and logistics. The nuts and bolts of how your business is operated
  • Products or services. What your company provides its customers.
  • Advertising and marketing. How you intend to get your products in front of your customers.
  • Forecasting. Revenue forecasting for partners or potential investors.

Why do you need a business plan?

A business plan is a framework for success. It provides a number of key benefits:

  • Structure. The outline around which to design your business.
  • Operational guidance. A signpost for how to run your business from day to day.
  • Expansion. A vision for the future growth of your enterprise.
  • Definition. A platform to consider every element of your business and how best to execute your plans for them.
  • Collaboration. A synopsis of what’s exceptional about your business and a way to attract funding, investment or partnerships.
  • Onboarding. An efficient summary of your business for new or potential employees.

Business plan examples

We’ve created two fictional companies to illustrate how a business might use a business plan to sketch out goals and opportunities as well as forecast revenue.

Bling, Incorporated

Our first hypothetical example is a jewelry and accessory creator called Bling, Incorporated. A hybrid business that manufactures its products for sale both online and through physical retail channels, Bling’s mission statement is focused on transforming simple, inexpensive ingredients into wearable statement pieces of art. 

Market analysis includes gathering data around sourcing sustainable, inexpensive components, aesthetic trends in fashion and on which platforms competitors have had success in advertising jewelry to prospective customers. Logistics include shipping products, negotiating with retailers, establishing an e-commerce presence and material and manufacturing costs. 

Bling, Incorporated advertises initially through social platforms like TikTok and Facebook, as well as with Google AdSense, with plans to eventually expand to television advertising. Revenue forecasting is structured around a low overhead on the basis of inexpensive materials, no dedicated storefront and broad reach through digital platforms.

Phaeton Custom Cars

Phaeton is a custom car builder and classic car restoration business with a regional focus and reach. Its mission statement defines it as a local, family-owned business serving a community of auto enthusiasts and a broader regional niche of collectors. 

Market analysis breaks down the location and facilities of other competitor shops in the region as well as online communities of regional car enthusiasts likely to spend money on custom modifications or restoration projects. It also examines trends in valuations for custom parts and vintage cars. Logistics include pricing out parts and labor, finding skilled or apprentice laborers and mortgaging a garage and equipment. 

Phaeton advertises in regional publications, at local events and regional car shows and online through Facebook and Instagram, with an emphasis on a social presence highlighting their flashiest builds. Revenue forecasting is built around a growing reputation and high-value commissions.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

A business plan may not be a prerequisite for every type of business, but there are few businesses that wouldn’t benefit from one. It can serve as an important strategic tool and help crystalize a vision of your business and its future.

Business plans do just that: they help you plan the future of your business, serve as a platform to brainstorm ideas and think through your vision and are a great tool for showcasing why your business works to potential investors or partners.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Alan Bradley

Alan is an experienced culture and tech writer with a background in newspaper reporting. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Paste Magazine, The Escapist, PC Mag, PC Gamer, and a multitude of other outlets. He has over twenty years of experience as a journalist and editor and is the author of the urban fantasy novel The Sixth Borough.

Sierra Campbell is a small business editor for USA Today Blueprint. She specializes in writing, editing and fact-checking content centered around helping businesses. She has worked as a digital content and show producer for several local TV stations, an editor for U.S. News & World Report and a freelance writer and editor for many companies. Sierra prides herself in delivering accurate and up-to-date information to readers. Her expertise includes credit card processing companies, e-commerce platforms, payroll software, accounting software and virtual private networks (VPNs). She also owns Editing by Sierra, where she offers editing services to writers of all backgrounds, including self-published and traditionally published authors.

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

Business Eric Rosenberg

The Strategy Story

Examples of supply chain strategy

company strategic plan example

Supply chain strategies vary widely depending on the industry, company size, market conditions, and specific business objectives. Here are several examples of supply chain strategies that companies might adopt to enhance their competitiveness and operational efficiency:

Entire Supply Chain Strategy Explained

Lean supply chain.

A Lean Supply Chain is centered around eliminating waste within the supply chain to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance product value for the customer. This strategy is deeply rooted in the Lean Manufacturing philosophy, which originated in Japan’s Toyota Production System (TPS). The goal is to create more value for customers with fewer resources by optimizing the flow of materials and information through the supply chain. Key aspects of a Lean Supply Chain include:

  • Value Stream Mapping : This involves identifying every step in the supply chain and eliminating anything that does not add value to the end customer. By mapping out all processes, companies can visualize inefficiencies, redundancies, and bottlenecks and work on streamlining operations.
  • Just-In-Time (JIT) Inventory : JIT is a cornerstone of the lean supply chain, aiming to reduce waste associated with holding excess inventory. Materials and products are produced and delivered only as needed, minimizing storage costs and reducing the risk of obsolescence or damage to inventory.
  • Continuous Improvement (Kaizen) : Lean supply chains embrace the concept of continuous improvement, where employees at all levels are encouraged to suggest and implement improvements to processes. This ongoing effort to enhance efficiency and quality contributes to a culture of excellence and innovation.
  • Pull-Based Demand : Unlike traditional push-based systems, where production schedules are based on forecasts, lean supply chains use pull-based systems driven by actual customer demand. This ensures that production is closely aligned with market needs, reducing overproduction and waste.
  • Total Quality Management (TQM) : Lean supply chains prioritize quality at every stage to prevent defects and reduce rework and returns. By focusing on quality from the outset, companies can minimize costly errors and enhance customer satisfaction.
  • Supplier Integration : Lean supply chains involve close collaboration with suppliers to ensure they are aligned with lean principles. This can include sharing forecasts and demand information, working together on quality and efficiency improvements, and integrating suppliers into the company’s production processes.
  • Process Standardization : Standardizing work processes enhances efficiency, reduces errors, and ensures consistent product quality. All tasks are defined, standardized, and continuously reviewed in a lean supply chain for potential improvements.
  • Flexibility and Responsiveness : Lean supply chains are designed to be flexible and responsive to changes in customer demand or market conditions. This agility allows companies to adapt quickly, minimizing disruptions and maintaining high service levels.
  • Waste Reduction : Lean supply chains systematically identify and eliminate waste (non-value-added activities) in all forms, including excess inventory, unnecessary transportation, waiting times, overproduction, overprocessing, defects, and unused talent.
  • Cross-functional Teams : Lean supply chains often use cross-functional teams that bring together employees from different departments to improve supply chain efficiency. This collaborative approach encourages a holistic view of the supply chain and fosters innovative solutions to complex problems.

Adopting a lean supply chain strategy can bring significant benefits, including reduced costs, shorter lead times, higher quality products, and improved customer satisfaction. However, it requires a cultural shift towards continuous improvement, collaboration, and a relentless focus on adding value from the customer’s perspective.

Agile Supply Chain 

An Agile Supply Chain is designed to be highly flexible and adaptable, enabling a company to respond swiftly and effectively to changes in the market, fluctuations in customer demand, and other uncertainties. This approach contrasts with traditional supply chain models that might emphasize efficiency and cost control but need more flexibility to cope with rapid changes. The agility in the supply chain allows companies to seize market opportunities, adapt to customer preferences, and mitigate risks associated with supply chain disruptions. Key characteristics and components of an Agile Supply Chain include:

  • Market Sensitivity : An agile supply chain is closely attuned to the signals from the market, ensuring that it can respond rapidly to changes in customer demand. This involves using real-time data and analytics to understand market trends and customer behaviors, enabling proactive adjustments in supply chain operations.
  • Virtual Integration : Agile supply chains leverage advanced information technology to share data and collaborate closely with suppliers, partners, and customers. This virtual integration ensures all parties access up-to-date information, facilitating coordinated responses to changing conditions.
  • Process Integration : Beyond technology, agile supply chains require seamless integration of processes across all supply chain functions, from procurement and production to distribution and customer service. This integration ensures that changes in one area can be quickly communicated and adapted across the entire supply chain.
  • Network-Based Configuration : Agile supply chains are often structured as networks of suppliers, manufacturers, and distribution centers that can be reconfigured as needed to meet changing demands. This flexible structure allows companies to scale up or down, switch suppliers, or adjust production methods in response to market conditions.
  • Decentralized Decision-Making : Agility is enhanced by empowering front-line employees and local managers to decide based on current conditions and customer needs. This decentralized approach allows for faster responses than possible if all decisions had to be escalated up the chain of command.
  • Postponement : The postponement strategy involves delaying a product’s final assembly or customization until the latest possible moment to match customer demand better. This reduces the risk of excess inventory and enables more personalized products.
  • Flexible Manufacturing Systems : Agile supply chains often rely on manufacturing systems that quickly switch between products or adjust production volumes. This might involve modular equipment, cross-trained employees, and adaptable production schedules.
  • Collaborative Relationships with Suppliers : Developing strong, collaborative relationships with suppliers is key to an agile supply chain. This involves sharing information, joint problem-solving, and working together to respond to market changes.
  • Risk Management and Contingency Planning : Agile supply chains proactively identify potential risks and develop contingency plans to address them. This includes diversifying suppliers, creating redundant supply routes, and maintaining buffer stocks of critical items.
  • Customer-Centric Focus : Ultimately, the goal of an agile supply chain is to meet customer needs more effectively. This means responding quickly to changes in demand and offering high levels of customization, exceptional service, and fast delivery.

An Agile Supply Chain strategy is particularly suitable for industries where market conditions are volatile, product lifecycles are short, and customer preferences are rapidly evolving. While agility can increase responsiveness and customer satisfaction, it may also involve higher costs due to the need for buffer stocks, flexible manufacturing capabilities, and advanced IT systems. Balancing agility with efficiency is a key challenge for companies pursuing this strategy.

Resilient Supply Chain

A Resilient Supply Chain is designed to anticipate, adapt to, and recover from disruptions or unforeseen events while maintaining continuous business operations and safeguarding people, assets, and overall brand equity. The strategy focuses on building strength and flexibility into the supply chain to withstand shocks such as natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, economic fluctuations, supplier failures, and other operational risks. The key to resilience is the ability to bounce back from disruptions, learn from them, and emerge stronger. Key components and strategies for building a resilient supply chain include:

  • Risk Assessment and Management : Identifying potential vulnerabilities within the supply chain is the first step toward resilience. This involves a comprehensive analysis of all supply chain elements, from raw materials sourcing to customer delivery, to identify risks and their potential impact on operations.
  • Diversification of Suppliers and Partners : Relying on a single supplier or a concentrated geographic region for critical components or materials can be risky. A resilient supply chain diversifies its sources to avoid being crippled by the failure of a single supplier or region-specific disruptions.
  • Flexible and Adaptive Logistics : Building flexibility into transportation and logistics allows for quick adjustments in response to disruptions. This might include using multiple transportation modes, developing alternative routes, and having contingency plans for logistic disruptions.
  • Inventory Management Strategies : Maintaining strategic buffer stocks or safety inventory for critical components can provide a cushion that absorbs shocks in the supply chain. Deciding on the right level and location of inventory is crucial to balancing cost with resilience.
  • Collaborative Relationships : Fostering strong, transparent relationships with suppliers, partners, and customers enhances resilience. Open communication channels allow quicker detection of potential issues and collaborative development of contingency plans.
  • Investment in Technology : Advanced technologies like IoT, AI, and blockchain can enhance supply chain visibility, improve predictive analytics for risk management, and facilitate rapid communication across the supply chain network.
  • Robust IT Systems and Cybersecurity : Ensuring that IT systems are reliable, secure, and capable of withstanding cyber-attacks is essential for supply chain resilience, especially as digitalization increases.
  • Agile Manufacturing and Operational Flexibility : Having the ability to reconfigure manufacturing processes quickly, shift production lines, or switch to alternative products helps maintain operations during disruptions.
  • Training and Development : Equipping employees with the skills and knowledge to respond effectively to disruptions is critical. Regular training, simulations, and drills can prepare teams to implement contingency plans smoothly.
  • Continuous Learning and Improvement : Resilient supply chains conduct post-event analyses to learn from the experience after any disruption. These insights are used to improve risk management strategies, contingency plans, and operational practices, strengthening the supply chain over time.
  • Financial Resilience : Ensuring the financial health of the company and its key suppliers is also crucial. This might involve having access to emergency funds, insurance, or lines of credit to navigate periods of disruption.
  • Sustainability and Social Responsibility : Building a resilient supply chain also involves considering environmental sustainability and social responsibility, as these factors can impact long-term viability and risk exposure.

A Resilient Supply Chain strategy recognizes that disruptions are inevitable and focuses on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from these challenges as efficiently as possible. By investing in resilience, companies can protect their operations, maintain customer service, and secure their competitive position in the face of uncertainties.

Green or Sustainable Supply Chain

A Green or Sustainable Supply Chain integrates environmental and social considerations into supply chain management, from product design and material sourcing to production, distribution, and end-of-life disposal. This strategy aims to minimize the ecological footprint of supply chain operations while also addressing social and economic issues such as worker welfare and community impact. The goal is to create a supply chain that is efficient and cost-effective but also responsible and sustainable in the long term. Key elements of a Green or Sustainable Supply Chain include:

  • Eco-Friendly Sourcing : Selecting suppliers based on their environmental performance and commitment to sustainability. This involves sourcing raw materials that are renewable, recycled, or have a lower environmental impact and working with suppliers who implement sustainable practices in their operations.
  • Sustainable Product Design : Designing products with sustainability in mind, considering the entire lifecycle from raw materials to end-of-life. This can involve using eco-friendly materials, designing for durability and reparability, and considering the product’s energy efficiency during use.
  • Energy and Resource Efficiency : Implementing practices and technologies that reduce energy consumption and waste in manufacturing and logistics. This can include optimizing production processes, investing in energy-efficient equipment, and utilizing renewable energy sources.
  • Reduction of Emissions : Actively reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with supply chain activities, such as manufacturing processes, transportation, and warehousing. This can involve optimizing logistics networks, switching to lower-emission transportation modes, and investing in carbon offset projects.
  • Waste Management and Recycling : Minimizing waste generation through efficient processes and materials management and implementing recycling and reuse programs for waste materials. This includes considering end-of-life recycling during the product design phase and facilitating product take-back or recycling programs.
  • Water Stewardship : Managing water use responsibly, particularly in water-scarce regions, by implementing water-saving technologies and practices, treating wastewater, and engaging in water conservation initiatives.
  • Social Responsibility : Ensuring fair labor practices, worker safety, and community well-being throughout the supply chain. This involves adhering to ethical labor standards, supporting community development projects, and ensuring supply chain practices do not adversely affect local communities.
  • Supplier Engagement and Development : Working collaboratively with suppliers to improve their environmental and social performance, providing training and resources to help them adopt sustainable practices, and encouraging transparency in reporting their sustainability performance.
  • Product Lifecycle Management : Considering the environmental impact of products throughout their entire lifecycle, from design and production to use and disposal. This includes strategies for extending product lifespans, reducing the environmental impact of product use, and ensuring products can be disassembled, reused, or recycled at the end of their life.
  • Transparency and Reporting : Being open about sustainability practices and performance within the organization and external stakeholders. This can involve publishing sustainability reports, participating in environmental certification programs, and engaging in dialogue with customers, NGOs, and other stakeholders about sustainability issues.
  • Compliance and Certification : Adhere to relevant environmental regulations and standards and pursue voluntary certifications such as ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and Fair Trade certification to demonstrate commitment to sustainability.

A Green or Sustainable Supply Chain helps reduce environmental impact, enhances brand reputation, drives innovation, opens new markets, and can lead to cost savings through efficiencies and waste reduction. Companies like Patagonia, Unilever, and IKEA are recognized leaders in integrating sustainability into their supply chains, demonstrating that environmental responsibility and business success can go hand in hand.

Global Supply Chain

A Global Supply Chain strategy involves managing the flow of goods, services, information, and finances across multiple countries and continents to maximize efficiency and leverage global synergies. This strategy aims to optimize the entire supply chain from raw materials to final delivery by taking advantage of lower production costs, accessing new markets, leveraging global sourcing opportunities, and benefiting from economies of scale. However, managing a global supply chain introduces complexities such as dealing with diverse regulatory environments, cultural differences, longer lead times, and increased risk of disruptions. Key components of a Global Supply Chain strategy include:

  • Global Sourcing and Procurement : Identifying and acquiring raw materials, components, or services from suppliers located around the world to achieve cost efficiencies, access higher-quality materials, or tap into specialized skills that are not available domestically.
  • International Logistics and Transportation : Coordinating the movement of goods across international borders, which involves selecting appropriate shipping modes (air, sea, rail, road), managing customs clearance and compliance with import/export regulations, and optimizing logistics networks to balance cost and speed.
  • Global Production and Manufacturing : Establishing manufacturing operations in multiple countries to take advantage of lower labor costs, proximity to raw materials, or access to specific markets. This includes making strategic decisions about which products to manufacture in which locations based on cost, expertise, and logistical considerations.
  • Cross-Border Regulatory Compliance : Navigating the complex web of regulations, tariffs, and trade agreements that govern international trade. Compliance with local laws and regulations in each country where the company operates is crucial to avoid legal penalties and trade barriers.
  • Currency and Financial Risk Management : Managing risks associated with currency fluctuations and international financial transactions, including using hedging strategies to protect against adverse currency movements and ensuring compliance with international financial reporting standards.
  • Supply Chain Visibility and Control : Maintaining visibility across the global supply chain is essential for effective management and rapid response to disruptions. This can involve implementing advanced tracking and monitoring systems, utilizing supply chain management software, and establishing control towers for real-time decision-making.
  • Cultural and Language Diversity : Navigating cultural differences and language barriers is critical to global supply chain management. This involves understanding local business practices and cultural norms and building a multicultural team capable of operating effectively across different regions.
  • Market Access and Customer Service : Leveraging global operations to access new markets and better serve customers in different regions. This includes adapting products and services to meet local preferences and regulatory requirements and establishing local sales, marketing, and customer service operations.
  • Strategic Partnerships and Alliances : Forming strategic partnerships and alliances with local firms can provide valuable insights into local markets, access to established distribution networks, and shared resources for more effective supply chain operations.
  • Risk Management and Resilience : Developing strategies to mitigate the increased risks associated with global supply chains, such as geopolitical tensions, natural disasters, and supply chain disruptions. This includes diversifying suppliers, creating contingency plans, and building a resilient supply chain infrastructure.
  • Sustainability and Ethical Considerations : Addressing environmental and social impacts of global operations, including ensuring ethical labor practices, reducing carbon footprint, and promoting sustainable sourcing practices.

A Global Supply Chain strategy allows companies to compete more effectively globally by optimizing resources, accessing new markets, and achieving cost efficiencies. However, it requires sophisticated coordination, advanced technology, and a deep understanding of international trade dynamics. Companies like Apple, Walmart, and Toyota are examples of businesses that have successfully implemented global supply chain strategies to support their worldwide operations.

Customer-Centric Supply Chain

A Customer-Centric Supply Chain strategy puts the customer at the heart of supply chain decisions and operations. This approach prioritizes customer needs, preferences, and satisfaction throughout the entire supply chain, from product design and production to delivery and after-sales service. The goal is to enhance customer experience, build loyalty, and drive business success by closely aligning supply chain practices with customers’ value. Key elements of a Customer-Centric Supply Chain include:

  • Understanding Customer Needs : Understanding customer preferences, expectations, and buying behaviors is the foundation of a customer-centric supply chain. This involves gathering and analyzing customer data, market research, and feedback to inform supply chain decisions.
  • Segmentation and Personalization : Recognizing that customer segments may have different needs and expectations, a customer-centric supply chain often involves segmenting customers based on various criteria (such as order size, frequency, or specific service requirements) and tailoring supply chain services to meet these distinct needs.
  • Product Availability and Assortment : Ensuring that products are available when and where customers want them, which requires effective demand planning, inventory management, and distribution strategies. This also involves offering a product assortment that aligns with customer preferences, including product features, packaging, or configuration variations.
  • Flexible and Responsive Logistics : Developing a logistics and distribution system that is flexible and responsive enough to meet customer demands for fast and reliable delivery. This can include offering a range of delivery options, such as same-day or next-day delivery, and the ability to change delivery times or locations even after an order has been placed.
  • Order Accuracy and Quality Assurance : Ensuring that orders are fulfilled accurately and products meet high-quality standards, as mistakes and defects can significantly impact customer satisfaction. This involves rigorous quality control processes and efficient order management systems.
  • Transparent Communication : Keeping customers informed about the status of their orders, potential delays, and available options in case of issues. This transparency helps build trust and manage customer expectations effectively.
  • Seamless Returns and Exchanges : Making the process of returns and exchanges as hassle-free as possible, recognizing that a positive experience in handling returns can significantly impact customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Customer Feedback Loops : Implementing mechanisms to capture and act on customer feedback, both positive and negative, regarding their experience with the company’s products and services. This continuous feedback loop helps identify areas for improvement and innovation.
  • Technology Integration : Leveraging technology such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, advanced analytics, and AI to gain insights into customer behavior, personalize customer interactions, and streamline operations to meet customer needs better.
  • Collaboration with Suppliers and Partners : Working closely with suppliers and partners to ensure they are aligned with the company’s customer-centric objectives. This can involve sharing customer insights, collaborating on product development, and jointly managing customer service issues.
  • Empowered Employees : Ensuring that all employees, especially those in customer-facing roles, have the information, tools, and authority they need to make decisions that benefit the customer, enhancing the overall customer experience.

A Customer-Centric Supply Chain strategy recognizes that long-term business success is built on satisfying customers. By placing customers’ needs and satisfaction at the forefront of supply chain decisions, companies can foster loyalty, differentiate themselves from competitors, and drive sustainable growth. Amazon is a prime example of a company that has successfully implemented a customer-centric supply chain, focusing on customer experience, extensive product selection, and innovative logistics solutions.

Digitally Enabled Supply Chain

A Digitally Enabled Supply Chain leverages digital technologies to enhance visibility, efficiency, and responsiveness across the supply chain. This strategy involves integrating advanced digital tools and platforms—from data analytics and IoT to blockchain and AI—into supply chain operations to drive innovation, improve decision-making, and create a more agile and transparent supply chain. The goal is to transform traditional supply chains into interconnected, intelligent, scalable, and highly responsive networks. Key components of a Digitally Enabled Supply Chain include:

  • Advanced Analytics and Big Data : Utilizing big data analytics to process and analyze large volumes of data from various sources within the supply chain. This enables more accurate demand forecasting, inventory optimization, and identification of inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) : Implementing IoT devices and sensors to monitor and collect real-time data on the condition, location, and movement of goods throughout the supply chain. This enhanced visibility supports better tracking, predictive maintenance, and improved asset utilization.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) : Leveraging AI and ML algorithms to automate decision-making processes, predict trends, and optimize operations. AI can be used in demand forecasting, route optimization, and even automating customer service interactions.
  • Blockchain Technology : Using blockchain to create a secure, immutable ledger of transactions across the supply chain. This enhances transparency, reduces fraud, and improves trust among supply chain partners by providing a single source of truth for transactions, product provenance, and compliance.
  • Cloud Computing : Employing cloud-based platforms to enhance collaboration and data sharing among supply chain partners. Cloud computing offers scalability, flexibility, and accessibility, allowing stakeholders to access real-time data and applications anywhere.
  • Supply Chain Integration Platforms : Utilizing integration platforms to connect different supply chain systems and processes within the organization and with external partners. This ensures seamless data flow and communication, facilitating more coordinated and efficient operations.
  • Robotics and Automation : Incorporating robotics and automation in warehouses and manufacturing facilities to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and improve safety. This includes automated storage and retrieval systems, robotic picking and packing, and autonomous vehicles for material handling.
  • Digital Twins : Creating digital replicas of physical supply chain assets or operations to simulate and analyze performance under various conditions. Digital twins can be used for scenario planning, risk management, and optimizing supply chain design.
  • Cybersecurity Measures : Strengthening cybersecurity protocols to protect sensitive supply chain data from cyber threats. As supply chains become more digital, ensuring the security and integrity of data becomes crucial to prevent disruptions and protect intellectual property.
  • Customer Engagement Platforms : Leveraging digital platforms to enhance customer engagement and service. This includes e-commerce platforms, mobile apps, and social media channels enabling direct customer communication, personalized marketing, and real-time order tracking.
  • Sustainability and Traceability : Using digital tools to track and report sustainability metrics, such as carbon emissions and ethical sourcing. Digital traceability allows companies to verify the sustainability credentials of their products and supply chain practices.

A Digitally Enabled Supply Chain offers significant advantages, including improved agility, reduced costs, enhanced customer satisfaction, and the ability to adapt to market changes rapidly. However, transitioning to a digital supply chain requires substantial technological, training, and change management investment. Companies like GE, with its “Brilliant Factory” concept, and Maersk’s collaboration with IBM on a blockchain-based shipping solution exemplify the successful implementation of digitally enabled supply chain strategies.

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