The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

To guide you through the strategic planning process, we created this 4 step process you can use with your team. we’ll cover the basic definition of strategic planning, what core elements you should include, and actionable steps to build your strategic plan..

Free Strategic Planning Guide

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic Planning is when a process where organizations define a bold vision and create a plan with objectives and goals to reach that future. A great strategic plan defines where your organization is going, how you’ll win, who must do what, and how you’ll review and adapt your strategy development.

A strategic plan or a business strategic plan should include the following:

  • Your organization’s vision organization’s vision of the future.
  • A clearly Articulated mission and values statement.
  • A current state assessment that evaluates your competitive environment, new opportunities, and new threats.
  • What strategic challenges you face.
  • A growth strategy and outlined market share.
  • Long-term strategic goals.
  • An annual plan with SMART goals or OKRs to support your strategic goals.
  • Clear measures, key performance indicators, and data analytics to measure progress.
  • A clear strategic planning cycle, including how you’ll review, refresh, and recast your plan every quarter.

Strategic Planning Video - What is Strategic Planning?

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process:

The strategic management process involves taking your organization on a journey from point A (where you are today) to point B (your vision of the future).

Part of that journey is the strategy built during strategic planning, and part of it is execution during the strategic management process. A good strategic plan dictates “how” you travel the selected road.

Effective execution ensures you are reviewing, refreshing, and recalibrating your strategy to reach your destination. The planning process should take no longer than 90 days. But, move at a pace that works best for you and your team and leverage this as a resource.

To kick this process off, we recommend 1-2 weeks (1-hour meeting with the Owner/CEO, Strategy Director, and Facilitator (if necessary) to discuss the information collected and direction for continued planning.)

Strategic Planning Guide and Process

Questions to Ask:

  • Who is on your Planning Team? What senior leadership members and key stakeholders are included? Checkout these links you need help finding a strategic planning consultant , someone to facilitate strategic planning , or expert AI strategy consulting .
  • Who will be the business process owner (Strategy Director) of planning in your organization?
  • Fast forward 12 months from now, what do you want to see differently in your organization as a result of your strategic plan and implementation?
  • Planning team members are informed of their roles and responsibilities.
  • A strategic planning schedule is established.
  • Existing planning information and secondary data collected.

Action Grid:

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process

Step 1: Determine Organizational Readiness

Set up your plan for success – questions to ask:

  • Are the conditions and criteria for successful planning in place at the current time? Can certain pitfalls be avoided?
  • Is this the appropriate time for your organization to initiate a planning process? Yes or no? If no, where do you go from here?

Step 2: Develop Your Team & Schedule

Who is going to be on your planning team? You need to choose someone to oversee the strategy implementation (Chief Strategy Officer or Strategy Director) and strategic management of your plan? You need some of the key individuals and decision makers for this team. It should be a small group of approximately 12-15 people.

OnStrategy is the leader in strategic planning and performance management. Our cloud-based software and hands-on services closes the gap between strategy and execution. Learn more about OnStrategy here .

Step 3: Collect Current Data

All strategic plans are developed using the following information:

  • The last strategic plan, even if it is not current
  • Mission statement, vision statement, values statement
  • Past or current Business plan
  • Financial records for the last few years
  • Marketing plan
  • Other information, such as last year’s SWOT, sales figures and projections

Step 4: Review Collected Data

Review the data collected in the last action with your strategy director and facilitator.

  • What trends do you see?
  • Are there areas of obvious weakness or strengths?
  • Have you been following a plan or have you just been going along with the market?

Conclusion: A successful strategic plan must be adaptable to changing conditions. Organizations benefit from having a flexible plan that can evolve, as assumptions and goals may need adjustments. Preparing to adapt or restart the planning process is crucial, so we recommend updating actions quarterly and refreshing your plan annually.

Strategic Planning Pyramid

Strategic Planning Phase 1: Determine Your Strategic Position

Want more? Dive into the “ Evaluate Your Strategic Position ” How-To Guide.

Action Grid

Step 1: identify strategic issues.

Strategic issues are critical unknowns driving you to embark on a robust strategic planning process. These issues can be problems, opportunities, market shifts, or anything else that keeps you awake at night and begging for a solution or decision. The best strategic plans address your strategic issues head-on.

  • How will we grow, stabilize, or retrench in order to sustain our organization into the future?
  • How will we diversify our revenue to reduce our dependence on a major customer?
  • What must we do to improve our cost structure and stay competitive?
  • How and where must we innovate our products and services?

Step 2: Conduct an Environmental Scan

Conducting an environmental scan will help you understand your operating environment. An environmental scan is called a PEST analysis, an acronym for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological trends. Sometimes, it is helpful to include Ecological and Legal trends as well. All of these trends play a part in determining the overall business environment.

Step 3: Conduct a Competitive Analysis

The reason to do a competitive analysis is to assess the opportunities and threats that may occur from those organizations competing for the same business you are. You need to understand what your competitors are or aren’t offering your potential customers. Here are a few other key ways a competitive analysis fits into strategic planning:

  • To help you assess whether your competitive advantage is really an advantage.
  • To understand what your competitors’ current and future strategies are so you can plan accordingly.
  • To provide information that will help you evaluate your strategic decisions against what your competitors may or may not be doing.

Learn more on how to conduct a competitive analysis here .

Step 4: Identify Opportunities and Threats

Opportunities are situations that exist but must be acted on if the business is to benefit from them.

What do you want to capitalize on?

  • What new needs of customers could you meet?
  • What are the economic trends that benefit you?
  • What are the emerging political and social opportunities?
  • What niches have your competitors missed?

Threats refer to external conditions or barriers preventing a company from reaching its objectives.

What do you need to mitigate? What external driving force do you need to anticipate?

Questions to Answer:

  • What are the negative economic trends?
  • What are the negative political and social trends?
  • Where are competitors about to bite you?
  • Where are you vulnerable?

Step 5: Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths refer to what your company does well.

What do you want to build on?

  • What do you do well (in sales, marketing, operations, management)?
  • What are your core competencies?
  • What differentiates you from your competitors?
  • Why do your customers buy from you?

Weaknesses refer to any limitations a company faces in developing or implementing a strategy.

What do you need to shore up?

  • Where do you lack resources?
  • What can you do better?
  • Where are you losing money?
  • In what areas do your competitors have an edge?

Step 6: Customer Segments

How to Segment Your Customers

Customer segmentation defines the different groups of people or organizations a company aims to reach or serve.

  • What needs or wants define your ideal customer?
  • What characteristics describe your typical customer?
  • Can you sort your customers into different profiles using their needs, wants and characteristics?
  • Can you reach this segment through clear communication channels?

Step 7: Develop Your SWOT

How to Perform a SWOT

A SWOT analysis is a quick way of examining your organization by looking at the internal strengths and weaknesses in relation to the external opportunities and threats. Creating a SWOT analysis lets you see all the important factors affecting your organization together in one place.

It’s easy to read, easy to communicate, and easy to create. Take the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats you developed earlier, review, prioritize, and combine like terms. The SWOT analysis helps you ask and answer the following questions: “How do you….”

  • Build on your strengths
  • Shore up your weaknesses
  • Capitalize on your opportunities
  • Manage your threats

How to Write a Mission Statment

Strategic Planning Process Phase 2: Developing Strategy

Want More? Deep Dive Into the “Developing Your Strategy” How-To Guide.

Step 1: Develop Your Mission Statement

The mission statement describes an organization’s purpose or reason for existing.

What is our purpose? Why do we exist? What do we do?

  • What are your organization’s goals? What does your organization intend to accomplish?
  • Why do you work here? Why is it special to work here?
  • What would happen if we were not here?

Outcome: A short, concise, concrete statement that clearly defines the scope of the organization.

Step 2: discover your values.

Your values statement clarifies what your organization stands for, believes in and the behaviors you expect to see as a result. Check our the post on great what are core values and examples of core values .

How will we behave?

  • What are the key non-negotiables that are critical to the company’s success?
  • What guiding principles are core to how we operate in this organization?
  • What behaviors do you expect to see?
  • If the circumstances changed and penalized us for holding this core value, would we still keep it?

Outcome: Short list of 5-7 core values.

Step 3: casting your vision statement.

How to Write Core Values

A Vision Statement defines your desired future state and directs where we are going as an organization.

Where are we going?

  • What will our organization look like 5–10 years from now?
  • What does success look like?
  • What are we aspiring to achieve?
  • What mountain are you climbing and why?

Outcome: A picture of the future.

Step 4: identify your competitive advantages.

How to Write a Vision Statment

A competitive advantage is a characteristic of an organization that allows it to meet its customer’s need(s) better than its competition can. It’s important to consider your competitive advantages when creating your competitive strategy.

What are we best at?

  • What are your unique strengths?
  • What are you best at in your market?
  • Do your customers still value what is being delivered? Ask them.
  • How do your value propositions stack up in the marketplace?

Outcome: A list of 2 or 3 items that honestly express the organization’s foundation for winning.

Step 5: crafting your organization-wide strategies.

What is a Competitive Advantage

Your competitive strategy is the general methods you intend to use to reach your vision. Regardless of the level, a strategy answers the question “how.”

How will we succeed?

  • Broad: market scope; a relatively wide market emphasis.
  • Narrow: limited to only one or few segments in the market
  • Does your competitive position focus on lowest total cost or product/service differentiation or both?

Outcome: Establish the general, umbrella methods you intend to use to reach your vision.

How to Develop a Growth Strategy

Phase 3: Strategic Plan Development

Want More? Deep Dive Into the “Build Your Plan” How-To Guide.

Strategic Planning Process Step 1: Use Your SWOT to Set Priorities

If your team wants to take the next step in the SWOT analysis, apply the TOWS Strategic Alternatives Matrix to your strategy map to help you think about the options you could pursue. To do this, match external opportunities and threats with your internal strengths and weaknesses, as illustrated in the matrix below:

TOWS Strategic Alternatives Matrix

Evaluate the options you’ve generated, and identify the ones that give the greatest benefit, and that best achieve the mission and vision of your organization. Add these to the other strategic options that you’re considering.

Step 2: Define Long-Term Strategic Objectives

Long-Term Strategic Objectives are long-term, broad, continuous statements that holistically address all areas of your organization. What must we focus on to achieve our vision? Check out examples of strategic objectives here. What are the “big rocks”?

Questions to ask:

  • What are our shareholders or stakeholders expectations for our financial performance or social outcomes?
  • To reach our outcomes, what value must we provide to our customers? What is our value proposition?
  • To provide value, what process must we excel at to deliver our products and services?
  • To drive our processes, what skills, capabilities and organizational structure must we have?

Outcome: Framework for your plan – no more than 6. You can use the balanced scorecard framework, OKRs, or whatever methodology works best for you. Just don’t exceed 6 long-term objectives.

Strategy Map

Step 3: Setting Organization-Wide Goals and Measures

How to Set SMART Goals

Once you have formulated your strategic objectives, you should translate them into goals and measures that can be communicated to your strategic planning team (team of business leaders and/or team members).

You want to set goals that convert the strategic objectives into specific performance targets. Effective strategic goals clearly state what, when, how, and who, and they are specifically measurable. They should address what you must do in the short term (think 1-3 years) to achieve your strategic objectives.

Organization-wide goals are annual statements that are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, responsible, and time-bound. These are outcome statements expressing a result to achieve the desired outcomes expected in the organization.

What is most important right now to reach our long-term objectives?

Outcome: clear outcomes for the current year..

Strategic Planning Outcomes Table

Step 4: Select KPIs

How to Develop KPIs for Strategic Planning

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the key measures that will have the most impact in moving your organization forward. We recommend you guide your organization with measures that matter. See examples of KPIs here.

How will we measure our success?

Outcome: 5-7 measures that help you keep the pulse on your performance. When selecting your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), ask, “What are the key performance measures we need to track to monitor if we are achieving our goals?” These KPIs include the key goals you want to measure that will have the most impact on moving your organization forward.

Step 5: Cascade Your Strategies to Operations

Cascade Your Strategy to Acton Plans

To move from big ideas to action, creating action items and to-dos for short-term goals is crucial. This involves translating strategy from the organizational level to individuals. Functional area managers and contributors play a role in developing short-term goals to support the organization.

Before taking action, decide whether to create plans directly derived from the strategic plan or sync existing operational, business, or account plans with organizational goals. Avoid the pitfall of managing multiple sets of goals and actions, as this shifts from strategic planning to annual planning.

Questions to Ask

  • How are we going to get there at a functional level?
  • Who must do what by when to accomplish and drive the organizational goals?
  • What strategic questions still remain and need to be solved?

Department/functional goals, actions, measures and targets for the next 12-24 months

Step 6: Cascading Goals to Departments and Team Members

Now in your Departments / Teams, you need to create goals to support the organization-wide goals. These goals should still be SMART and are generally (short-term) something to be done in the next 12-18 months. Finally, you should develop an action plan for each goal.

Keep the acronym SMART in mind again when setting action items, and make sure they include start and end dates and have someone assigned their responsibility. Since these action items support your previously established goals, it may be helpful to consider action items your immediate plans on the way to achieving your (short-term) goals. In other words, identify all the actions that need to occur in the next 90 days and continue this same process every 90 days until the goal is achieved.

Examples of Cascading Goals:

Build a Strategic Plan You Can Implement

Phase 4: Executing Strategy and Managing Performance

Want more? Dive Into the “Managing Performance” How-To Guide.

Step 1: Strategic Plan Implementation Schedule

Implementation is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.

How will we use the plan as a management tool?

  • Communication Schedule: How and when will you roll-out your plan to your staff? How frequently will you send out updates?
  • Process Leader: Who is your strategy director?
  • Structure: What are the dates for your strategy reviews (we recommend at least quarterly)?
  • System & Reports: What are you expecting each staff member to come prepared with to those strategy review sessions?

Outcome: Syncing your plan into the “rhythm of your business.”

Once your resources are in place, you can set your implementation schedule. Use the following steps as your base implementation plan:

  • Establish your performance management and reward system.
  • Set up monthly and quarterly strategy meetings with established reporting procedures.
  • Set up annual strategic review dates including new assessments and a large group meeting for an annual plan review.

Now you’re ready to start plan roll-out. Below are sample implementation schedules, which double for a full strategic management process timeline.

Strategic Planning Calendar

Step 2: Tracking Goals & Actions

Monthly strategy meetings don’t need to take a lot of time – 30 to 60 minutes should suffice. But it is important that key team members report on their progress toward the goals they are responsible for – including reporting on metrics in the scorecard they have been assigned.

By using the measurements already established, it’s easy to make course corrections if necessary. You should also commit to reviewing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) during these regular meetings. Need help comparing strategic planning software ? Check out our guide.

Effective Strategic Planning: Your Bi-Annual Checklist

Is it strategic?

Never lose sight of the fact that strategic plans are guidelines, not rules. Every six months or so, you should evaluate your strategy execution and strategic plan implementation by asking these key questions:

  • Will your goals be achieved within the time frame of the plan? If not, why?
  • Should the deadlines be modified? (Before you modify deadlines, figure out why you’re behind schedule.)
  • Are your goals and action items still realistic?
  • Should the organization’s focus be changed to put more emphasis on achieving your goals?
  • Should your goals be changed? (Be careful about making these changes – know why efforts aren’t achieving the goals before changing the goals.)
  • What can be gathered from an adaptation to improve future planning activities?

Why Track Your Goals?

  • Ownership: Having a stake and responsibility in the plan makes you feel part of it and leads you to drive your goals forward.
  • Culture: Successful plans tie tracking and updating goals into organizational culture.
  • Implementation: If you don’t review and update your strategic goals, they are just good intentions
  • Accountability: Accountability and high visibility help drive change. This means that each measure, objective, data source and initiative must have an owner.
  • Empowerment: Changing goals from In Progress to Complete just feels good!

Step 3: Review & Adapt

Guidelines for your strategy review.

The most important part of this meeting is a 70/30 review. 30% is about reviewing performance, and 70% should be spent on making decisions to move the company’s strategy forward in the next quarter.

The best strategic planners spend about 60-90 minutes in the sessions. Holding meetings helps focus your goals on accomplishing top priorities and accelerating the organization’s growth. Although the meeting structure is relatively simple, it does require a high degree of discipline.

Strategy Review Session Questions:

Strategic planning frequently asked questions, read our frequently asked questions about strategic planning to learn how to build a great strategic plan..

Strategic planning is when organizations define a bold vision and create a plan with objectives and goals to reach that future. A great strategic plan defines where your organization is going, how you’ll win, who must do what, and how you’ll review and adapt your strategy..

Your strategic plan needs to include an assessment of your current state, a SWOT analysis, mission, vision, values, competitive advantages, growth strategy, growth enablers, a 3-year roadmap, and annual plan with strategic goals, OKRs, and KPIs.

A strategic planning process should take no longer than 90 days to complete from start to finish! Any longer could fatigue your organization and team.

There are four overarching phases to the strategic planning process that include: determining position, developing your strategy, building your plan, and managing performance. Each phase plays a unique but distinctly crucial role in the strategic planning process.

Prior to starting your strategic plan, you must go through this pre-planning process to determine your organization’s readiness by following these steps:

Ask yourself these questions: Are the conditions and criteria for successful planning in place now? Can we foresee any pitfalls that we can avoid? Is there an appropriate time for our organization to initiate this process?

Develop your team and schedule. Who will oversee the implementation as Chief Strategy Officer or Director? Do we have at least 12-15 other key individuals on our team?

Research and Collect Current Data. Find the following resources that your organization may have used in the past to assist you with your new plan: last strategic plan, mission, vision, and values statement, business plan, financial records, marketing plan, SWOT, sales figures, or projections.

Finally, review the data with your strategy director and facilitator and ask these questions: What trends do we see? Any obvious strengths or weaknesses? Have we been following a plan or just going along with the market?

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define strategic planning in one sentence

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define strategic planning in one sentence

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  • What is strategic planning? A 5-step gu ...

What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

How to build an organizational strategy

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What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 

Weaknesses:

What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 

Opportunities:

What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

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2.1: Developing a Strategic Plan

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Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define strategic planning and list the steps in the strategic planning process.
  • Write an effective vision statement and mission statement.
  • Describe the role of company values.
  • Perform a gap analysis.
  • Write SMART objectives and goals.
  • Summarize ways to monitor progress of the strategic plan.

Strategic Planning Defined

Let’s start with a simplified definition of strategy and then move on from there. Many if not most of you have watched a football game, either live or on TV. Perhaps you’re a fan of a particular team or you’ll watch the Super Bowl (perhaps just to see the commercials). Every football coach knows that you don’t enter a game without a game plan—the process of taking plays out of the playbook and putting them into a game plan for a specific opponent. This isn’t an easy task. The coaching staff has to consider the skills and experience of the players on the team as well as the strengths—and weaknesses—of the opposing team, and they will develop the plays that they feel will best neutralize the strengths of the opposing team while taking advantage of the strengths of their own players.

That football game plan is a great analogy for a business’s overall strategy —the plans, actions, objectives, and goals that outline how the business is going to compete in its chosen markets given its portfolio of products or services. In marketing, a portfolio is a collection or listing of all the goods and services that a company sells to customers.

Distinctions are often made between corporate-level strategy, business-level strategy, and functional strategy, so let’s briefly define them here. Corporate-level strategy covers the entire business in a complex organization where there are multiple businesses, divisions, or operating units (sometimes called strategic business units , or SBUs). Corporate-level strategies are formulated and implemented by upper management. Business-level strategy is the strategic plan created for a single business or operating unit, and these plans are generally developed by middle management to support the corporate-level strategy. Corporate-level and business-level strategies lead to the development of functional strategy , which is the plan to achieve the corporate- and business-level objectives in functional areas such as human resources, marketing, and production.

People say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at how this breaks down in Figure 2.2.

The different levels of strategy required in complex organizations are corporate strategy, business strategy, and function strategy. A double-sided arrow labeled two way influence is between corporate strategy and business strategy and business strategy and functional strategy.

Many organizations have only a single product line, market focus, or business, so they will require only a business-level strategy. However, with larger organizations, it can be important to break the overall business into smaller, more manageable strategic business units to maintain an overall focus on the business as a whole and pull the business-level strategies into a cohesive whole.

Consider, for example, Procter & Gamble . The producer of such diverse products as diapers, Tide detergent, and Oral-B toothpaste has five industry-based strategic business units—baby, feminine, and family care; beauty; health care; grooming; and fabric and home care, family care, and new ventures. Each of these SBUs has its own chief executive officer and functions essentially as a standalone business under the corporate “umbrella.” 5

When you consider the complexities of the diverse markets Procter & Gamble serves, this makes sense. Competing in the oral care market is vastly different than competing in baby products, so separate SBUs require separate strategic plans.

Steps in the Strategic Planning Process

There are many variations of the strategic planning process—almost as many as there are publications on strategic planning. For our purposes in this textbook, we’re going to use the five-step process outlined in Figure 2.3. Keep in mind, however, that the process may be a little different for some organizations depending on the stage of their products in the product life cycle (which we’ll learn more about in Products: Consumer Offerings), the maturity of the industry in which the business participates, how competitive the marketplace is, and other factors.

The steps in the strategic learning process are in a horizontal row, placed on top of arrows pointing to the right. Starting at the left, the steps are define the vision statement, establish the mission statement, perform a gap analysis, establish objectives and goals, and monitor progress.

These elements will all be defined in more detail in the sections that follow.

Step One: The Vision Statement: Where Do We See the Business Going?

The strategic planning process begins with a solid understanding of what the organization is trying to create—that is, its vision statement . A vision statement is forward-looking and is intended to create a mental image of what the organization wants to achieve in the longer term. Vision statements should be both inspirational and aspirational.

Let’s look at some vision statements from companies with which you might be familiar so you’ll see how this works:

  • Amazon : “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online” 6
  • Volkswagen : “To make this world a mobile, sustainable place with access to all the citizens” 7
  • Fujitsu : “Understanding you better—serving you best” 8

Link to Learning: Vision Statement

For more information on how to write a vision statement, take a look at this brief video from RapidStart Leadership.

Step Two: The Mission Statement: Why Does the Business Exist?

Now that the vision statement is complete, it’s time to tackle the mission statement, which quite simply answers the question, Why does the company exist? The mission statement of an organization sums up in one to three sentences what the company does, who it serves, and what differentiates it from its competitors. Whereas the vision statement provided the destination (i.e., Where is the business going?), the mission statement provides the guideposts for the business to get there.

Mission statements serve two purposes. First, a well-written mission statement helps employees remain focused on the aims of the business. Second, it encourages them to discover ways of moving toward increasing their productivity in order to achieve company goals. Mission statements aren’t just for internal use, however. Prospective investors also often refer to a company’s mission statement to see if their values align with those of the company. Once again, let’s bring this definition to life by including a few mission statements from well-known companies:

  • BMW : “The BMW Group is the world’s leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility” 9
  • Tesla : “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible” 10
  • Apple : “To bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world” 11

There are also two types of mission statements: customer oriented or product oriented. What’s the difference? A customer-oriented mission statement defines the business in terms of how it intends to provide solutions to customer needs. As examples, take a look at some of these customer-oriented mission statements:

  • IKEA : “To offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them” 12
  • Netflix : “To entertain the world” 13

The other type of mission statement is a product-oriented one. With a product-oriented mission statement, the focus is on the offering itself rather than the needs of customers. Again, look at a couple of examples of product-oriented mission statements so you can see the difference between these mission statements and the customer-oriented mission statements shown above:

  • eBay : “To be the world’s favorite destination for discovering great value and unique selection” 14
  • Genentech : “To develop drugs to address significant unmet medical needs” 15

Link to Learning: Mission Statement

For more information on how to write an effective mission statement, check out this brief video from Bplans.

Then watch this video from Entrepreneur.

Step Three: Perform a Gap Analysis

Before we get into the specifics of how to perform a gap analysis, let’s define it. Simply put, a gap analysis is an internal analysis of the company or organization to identify and review any inherent deficiencies that may hinder its ability to meet its goals. In other words, a gap analysis determines what factors in the organization may be causing it to underperform.

A gap analysis answers the following questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where would we like to be?
  • What’s stopping us from getting there?

A gap analysis as part of the strategic planning process is a way to determine where the “soft spots” are and where adjustments need to be made before setting a course of action.

There are four steps to completion of a gap analysis. Let’s take a look:

  • Step 1: Identify the current state of the business, organization, or department. Let’s use an example of a company that wants to increase market share of its product line. To date, current growth is sluggish, averaging only 5 percent per year. 16
  • Step 2: Identify where you want to be. “Where you want to be” may be identified by using different terms—the desired state, the future target, or a stretch goal. It stands to reason that you’ll want to consider your current state (from Step 1) and where you want to be in a reasonable time frame. Do you want to increase market share by 10 percent within the first year? Do you want to increase market share by 25 percent within the first three years? Because strategic plans often go out three to five years, your “where you want to be” can be lengthy as well. 17
  • Step 3: Identify the gaps. At this point in your gap analysis, you’ve identified where your organization current is and where it wants to be. Now it’s time to identify how you’re going to bridge that gap. This step involves figuring out what those gaps are. Is market share suffering because a new competitor introduced a similar but lower-priced product into the market? Is your pricing too high given production capabilities and costs? Has the advertising campaign introduced last year lost its sizzle, or worse yet, did your most recent advertising campaign flop? 18
  • Step 4: Devise improvements to close the gaps. It’s time to determine the proper course of action to close the gap, keeping in mind the cost of implementation for each solution. 19 This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, because ideas are easy; it’s the execution of those ideas that becomes challenging. An effective gap analysis not only identifies the problems (i.e., gaps) but also sets forth what needs to happen in specific terms to close those gaps. Will a new advertising campaign boost market share? Do we need to hire a new advertising agency? And what will a new advertising campaign cost? Are there cost-cutting measures that can be taken to reduce manufacturing costs, thereby reducing the product’s cost to consumers?

Step Four: Establish Objectives and Goals

With the mission and vision statement in place, along with a candid view of the organization through gap analysis, we can now define the goals and objectives for the organization. Goals and objectives are a critical part of every organization, particularly in the strategic planning process. When written effectively, these goals provide a sense of direction and a clearer focus. It’s these goals that give the organization a target at which it can aim, so to speak.

But before we go further, let’s differentiate between goals and objectives. Both terms refer to desired outcomes that the organization wants to achieve, but that’s where the similarity ends. Goals are statements of desired outcomes that are expected to be achieved over a longer period of time, typically three to five years. Goals are broad statements of the desired results; they do not describe the methods that will be utilized in order to achieve those results. For example, common business goals may include increasing revenue or market share or reducing the company’s carbon footprint. 20

On the other hand, objectives are “action items.” They are specific targets to be achieved within a shorter time frame, generally one year or less, in order to achieve the stated goal. Whereas goals describe the end result, objectives describe the actions or activities that need to take place in order to achieve the goal. For example, if your goal was to increase market share, the objective would likely be stated as something like “Increase market share to 6 percent by the end of the year.” 21

The goals and objectives of an organization define the key actions that allow it to execute its chosen strategy. However, in order to be effective, goals and objectives should be SMART— specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound—as shown in Figure 2.4.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

  • First, effective goals should be specific— there’s the “S” in SMART goals. They should be clear and easy to understand. A specific goal answers questions like “What needs to be accomplished?” To illustrate this, imagine that you’ve decided to improve your grade point average. “Improve my GPA” is indeed a goal, but it’s too vague to be a helpful goal. By how many points do you want to improve your GPA? To make your goal more meaningful (and specific), you might want to restate your goal as “Improve my current GPA from 2.8 to 3.5.”
  • Second, effective goals should be measurable —there’s the “M” in SMART goals. Specificity is a solid start, but quantifying your goals makes it easier to track progress and see when you’ve achieved your goal. The bottom line is, you can’t see results without knowing what they look like, and if you’re not measuring anything, how will you know when and if you’ve accomplished it? Your original goal of “improve my GPA” isn’t measurable. How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? When you’ve increased it by .1, .2, .5, or even a full point? By setting a goal to “improve my current GPA from 2.8 to 3.5 by the end of the semester,” you’ve set a goal that’s easily measurable—just look at your grades at the end of the semester!
  • Third, effective goals should be attainable . There’s actually some disagreement as to the name of this third element. Some marketing experts tout using “ambitious”; others suggest “achievable” or “actionable.” For our purposes, we’re going to stick with “attainable” because although goals should be a reach, establishing goals that aren’t within reach can turn out to be an exercise in frustration. Let’s go back to our GPA analogy. If it’s mid-April and you’re barely passing your current classes, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
  • Fourth, effective goals should be realistic . Once again, there’s actually some disagreement as to the name of this element; you may see it shown as “relevant” in other textbooks or articles. We’re going to use “realistic” because the term reflects the balance between goals that are too easy and too hard. Taken in the context of a strategic plan, your goals must represent a substantial objective that you’re willing and able to work toward, but there should be a reasonable chance that you can achieve it. 22 Getting back to our GPA analogy, if you’ve got Cs in all of your classes and it’s already mid-April, improving your GPA to 3.5 by the end of the semester is probably not realistic.
  • Finally, effective goals should be time-bound . Every goal should be grounded by a time frame within which the goal is to be achieved. Without a deadline, there is little sense of urgency to work to achieve the goal. Having a goal with a target date (like the end of the semester) gives you something to focus on and work toward and prevents everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

Link to Learning: SMART Goals

For more information on establishing SMART Goals, check out this video from SMA Marketing .

Monitor Progress

If you had decided to save money from each of your paychecks to eventually purchase a new car, you’d probably check the balance in your savings account on a regular basis to see how you’re progressing toward your goal. The same is true in the strategic planning process. In order for goals and objectives to be effective, marketers need to monitor them on a continuous basis to determine if they’re on track or if the goals and objectives need to be refined in response to unforeseen circumstances.

One way that marketers accomplish this is through the use of a marketing dashboard. Like the dashboard in your car, which tells you at a glance how much fuel you have, how fast you’re going, and a host of other important information, a marketing dashboard summarizes important marketing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs; to be covered later in this chapter) into easy-to-understand measurements. 23 This enables marketers to view ongoing progress so that they can be aware of potential problems before they actually become serious issues.

Careers In Marketing: Marketing Manager

Marketing manager jobs differ by company and industry, but in general it’s a leadership position in charge of the marketing strategy at a company or for a product. Marketing managers often complete research, create pricing parameters, and work with other departments within the company such as finance, legal, advertising, promotion, and product development. Read this Marketing Manager article to learn more about the specifics of what a marketing manager does and the types of marketing manager that exist. It’s commonly known that marketing managers need to be proficient in problem-solving. Read this article to learn why it’s important and the specific skills you’ll need.

There is growth potential in being a marketing manager. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10 percent growth in the job role from 2021 to 2031, and you can read more about the job outlook here.

Would you like to know more about the job role? Read this Forbes article to learn the top skills necessary, the typical path to this job, and degree requirements.

There are many types of jobs in marketing. You’ll be introduced to several throughout this textbook. You’ll also want to check out this list of 15 job titles and what the job role encompasses. Keep in mind that regardless of where you start in marketing, you have options as you move in your career journey. Many people move between marketing roles, and the skills you learn in each role will help you in other roles.

Knowledge Check

It’s time to check your knowledge on the concepts presented in this section. Refer to the Answer Key at the end of the book for feedback.

Which of the following defines the reason why the business exists?

  • Vision statement
  • Mission statement
  • Gap analysis
  • Goals and objectives

Which of the following strategies covers the entire organization when the business includes multiple divisions or operating units?

  • Functional strategy
  • Strategic business unit strategy
  • Corporate-level strategy
  • Business-level strategy

What do you call the plans, actions, objectives, and goals that outline how a business will compete in its chosen markets?

Which of the following best describes a gap analysis?

  • A statement that answers the question, Where do we see the business going?
  • An internal analysis of the company to identify inherent deficiencies that may hinder its ability to meet its goals
  • A statement that answers the question, Why does the business exist?
  • A strategic plan created for a single business or operating unit

In “SMART goals,” what does the “R” stand for?

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Strategic Planning – Definition, Examples and FAQs

Strategic planning comprises the creation of tangible business strategies, their implementation, and evaluation of the results, all while keeping the organization’s long-term aims and ambitions in mind. This notion is used to achieve organizational goals by coordinating efforts among several departments such as finance, human resources, and marketing. Such departments include personnel and human resources, marketing, and accounting and finance. Strategic planning and strategic management are fundamentally identical. This article will go into strategic planning in detail and provide some examples for your convenience.

Christensen goes on to say that the common view of strategy as an isolated episode is incompatible with the reality. “That is not how the world works,” he says, stunned. We must be prepared to respond quickly to any unexpected threats or opportunities that may arise. There are times when a satisfactory response is possible to provide, and times when it is not. Nonetheless, this strategy is the primary means by which fresh methodologies are developed. A strategy’s successful execution is virtually always the product of a continuous process in some sector of the economy.Strategic maneuver planning takes a significant amount of time, effort, and constant evaluation. Putting the necessary effort into it has the ability to transform your business for the better. The application of strategic planning can provide three benefits.

Table of Contents

Meaning of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is used by organizations as a managerial endeavor to establish objectives, focus efforts, improve operational effectiveness, synchronize stakeholders with organizational goals, foster a collective understanding of the future, achieve agreement on preferred results, and respond to a changing external environment.

The deliberate planning process results in the formulation of crucial decisions and activities that shape and define a company, its mission, consumers, and operations. Successful strategic planning includes not only establishing the company’s intended goal and the intended course of action to attain it, but also defining the key performance indicators that will measure success.

Strategic planning is a very effective organizational approach used by firms of all sizes and across all industries. Every member of an organization or firm benefits from understanding the stages of the strategic planning process. It is crucial to have a thorough awareness of the fundamental aspects and methods required for successful execution. This essay will describe strategic planning, answer frequently asked questions about its application in business growth, and offer some next steps.

Strategic Planning Examples

The strategic plan will include the company’s goals, objectives, and the process it will use to achieve them, in addition to its mission and vision statements. Strategic and operational plans are diametrically opposed. The business plan is widely used to facilitate the formation of a firm and the acquisition of the initial money required to begin operations. A strategic plan outlines the process by which current assets will be used to achieve future growth and success.

The Canadian Soccer Association’s strategy plan for 2014-2018 is dense with information and specifications. This document examines the organization’s current situation and projects its future areas of focus. It outlines the tactics and goals that the Canadian Soccer Association wants to pursue in order to attain those goals.

How does Strategic Planning Work?

Strategic planning is not only used by businesses. According to the Whole Person Model, BetterUp aids its users in the development of a variety of abilities, including strategic planning. Individual strategic planning demands the ability to consider alternative routes to the intended target. Organizations and individuals both have the capacity to shape their futures according to their visions. They can enhance their goal attainment efficiency through the practice of strategic planning. To ensure that we reach our intended destination in the future, we must start by identifying the actions that need to be implemented in the present. This strategy is known as “working backwards.”

Individuals who have attained this degree of proficiency are masters at ensuring that their actions yield the desired results. This is true even if there is no plan with an absolute guarantee of success. Individuals may continuously refer to their long-term aims as a “North star” to provide direction and sustain progress in cases of divergence from the desired course. Creating a system to visualize one’s ideal future scenarios has the potential to boost an individual’s sense of purpose and motivation.

Benefits of Strategic Planning

Because of the volatility nature of today’s business environment, many firms have been forced to pursue reactive strategies rather than proactive ones. While investing significant time and money to reactive solutions is necessary, their applicability is often restricted to the near future. Strategic planning helps companies to take a proactive approach to their planning efforts and consider issues in a broader, long-term context. They enable businesses to actively impact their surroundings rather than simply reacting to them.

Create One, Forward-focused Vision

The execution of a clearly defined strategy benefits all members of an organization because it directs them toward achieving their goals. One of the most significant benefits of strategic investment is the ability to connect your firm and its shareholders through a clear vision for the future.

You may be able to build an accountability culture by giving employees with knowledge about the organization’s objectives, the reasons for those objectives, and the ways in which they may contribute to those objectives’ achievement.

As a result, there may be implications at a lower level. A manager who does not understand the organization’s strategy or the rationale that drives its development, for example, may lead their employees wrong. Giving your team a common goal to strive for will allow them to advance with greater strategic awareness.

Empowers Individuals in the Organization

Increased conversation and participation at each level of the process boosts employees’ confidence in their individual talents as well as the organization’s overall success. Decentralizing the strategic planning process allows employees and lower-level managers from all departments to actively participate in the debate and contribute to overall organizational decision-making.

The Walt Disney Company is an example of a company that has accomplished this. The organization decided to shift strategic planning authority from a specialist section to its numerous operational units.

Track Progress Based on Strategic Goals

When you have a well-thought-out strategy in place, it is much easier to track your progress toward your goals. Top-down monitoring of key performance indicators (KPIs) is feasible if every department and team within an organization has a thorough awareness of the company’s overall strategy. This allows the outcomes of their efforts to have a direct impact on the organization’s financial performance. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are determined at the corporate level through strategic planning and the formulation of objectives.

As a next step, communicate these objectives to all relevant staff within the organization. Having everyone in your organization pull in the same direction should result in higher production and KPIs. In addition to dedication and a systematic approach, adaptability is a crucial component of an effective plan.

According to Clayton Christensen’s argument in his book “Disruptive Plan,” a company’s business strategy must be adaptable enough to effectively address emerging opportunities and difficulties. If the organization’s objectives change, you should be willing to update your key performance indicators (KPIs), and you should notify your workers of the changes.

Enhanced Communication

The implementation of effective communication systems is required for optimal strategic planning. Employees and managers must both exhibit their commitment to the organization’s success by actively participating in conversations and working together to achieve common goals. Managers and employees that put effort into strategic planning are more likely to care about the organization’s goals.

This is due to their understanding of the organization’s policies and logic. Strategic planning concertizes organizational goals and objectives, increasing employees’ understanding of the relationship between their performance, the firm’s success, and their remuneration. As a result, both employees and managers are more likely to think creatively, which is beneficial to the organization’s growth.

Is Strategic Planning Applicable to Small Business?

Small business owners frequently believe that strategic planning is only for firms with yearly revenues in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. To achieve a prominent position , however, one must have a methodically planned strategy comprised of tangible acts that not only delineates the ultimate goal but also creates a mechanism for assessing progress. If you want to fight the bigger dogs, do this.

Why do we Need Strategic Planning?

Adopting a strategic planning approach is critical for steering an organization in the right direction. It keeps you focused and guarantees that everyone is working toward the same goal. Furthermore, one might gain understanding about strategic activities that will aid in the expansion of the business.

Which Comes First Strategic Planning Or?

A corporation must first define its strategy, as it serves as the framework for all future activities. After you’ve defined your company’s objectives, you can move on to developing a strategic plan and establishing a structure to carry it out.

Strategic planning is a process use by organizations to determine long-term goals, design strategies to achieve those goals, and establish an internal performance management system to monitor and assess progress. The majority of organizations and corporations do a SWOT or gap analysis to determine the factors influencing their current success. As a result, knowledge about high-leverage techniques that are most likely to provide the desired results is gained. The strategic planning has a strong role to play in the whole process which you should be aware of it while conducting various business activities.

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Strategic planning — what it is and how to do it well

Strategic planning guide

It can be difficult to reach your business goals and ambitions, regardless of what preparation you’ve done. But if you have a strategic plan in place, you’ll be more likely to achieve a favorable outcome.

This post will explain the importance of strategic planning, when and how to make a strategic plan, and how to manage it and stay on course. It will allow the audience to move forward with their planning efforts.

Read on to learn:

  • What strategic planning is

Benefits of strategic planning

  • When you should do strategic planning

Steps in strategic planning

  • What strategic management is

Strategic mapping

What is strategic planning.

Strategic planning is the process of defining your business’s direction and outlining a path toward a preferred future. The goal of a strategic plan is to capture an organization’s mission and core principles — to envision the fulfillment of these ideals. Strategic planning is both conceptual and practical, as it presents both high-level goals and specific approaches to achieve them.

A strategic plan needs to answer the following questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where are we going?
  • How do we get there?

Strategic planning helps businesses set and maintain a clear vision and ensure they’re moving in the right direction. Once the plan has been put in place, it helps maintain alignment between various stakeholders and teams within your business. This plan can make resource allocation simpler — by determining if certain resources are being used in ways that don’t align with the broader strategic plan.

Running a business without a strategic plan is like planning a vacation with no destination in mind. How will you get there? What do you need to bring with you? The same applies to planning for your business. Strategic planning:

  • Gives a sense of purpose and direction. A strategic plan provides a clear goal and end result so all other business functions can work to get you closer to that outcome. This clarity helps keep employees aligned on their efforts, make better decisions, and work towards a shared goal.
  • Makes you aware of opportunities for success. Tying your plans to strategy helps your organization identify opportunities that you discover along your journey. If you find an opportunity that aligns with your strategy — and desired outcomes — you can more easily adapt to take advantage of the situation.
  • Alerts you to risks to avoid. Part of the strategic planning process is scanning the external environment and competitive landscape, which allows you to identify potential roadblocks you may encounter.
  • Helps you understand what resources you will need. When you have a strategic plan in place, you can more effectively allocate your resources. By aligning resources with strategic goals, businesses can focus on the initiatives, projects, and investments that maximize their ROI.
  • Helps prioritize critical tasks. When deciding which tasks are most important and which can be put on hold, a strategic plan streamlines that decision making. Tasks that don’t contribute to your mission can wait, while mission-critical tasks get prioritized.
  • Fosters teamwork and communication. Without a strategic plan, team members can feel isolated and siloed. However, when that strategic plan is clearly communicated to everyone, your team will feel more connected as they work towards a common goal.
  • Increases motivation. And when your team understands the desired outcomes and bigger goals behind their daily tasks, they’ll be more motivated to do high-quality work in a timely manner.
  • Helps measure and evaluate results. Because you’ve likely identified key performance indicators (KPIs) in your planning process, you’ll have an easier time tracking your progress. When you measure your progress, you can more easily identify areas for improvement and make changes on the fly.

When should you do strategic planning?

When and how often your business does strategic planning depends on the size and stage of your company, the speed of your business, and the scope of the projects you’re working on. Strategic planning should not be a one-time event. It should be an iterative process with continuous monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment.

If you’re a new business, you’ll want to create a business plan first, before you move into strategic planning. Once your business is established you can then set a strategic plan to outline your goals and manage your business’s strategic direction. For planning more short-term projects, use a project plan .

Once you’ve created a strategic plan, you should review it regularly — quarterly and yearly, for example — to make sure it is still aligned with your business’s goals and industry landscape. Generally, you should create a new strategic plan every 3–5 years. However, newer or faster-moving companies may need to create a new strategic plan every 1–2 years. Another scenario when you should rework your strategic plan is when you’re preparing to make a major pivot in your business.

How to write a strategic plan for a project

Learn how to write a strategic plan, why you need to create one, and the topics it should cover.

Steps in strategic planning

While every strategic plan might look a little different depending on the organization, industry, and other context, there is still a general outline of the process that you can follow to get you started.

Before you get started, there are a few preliminary steps you can take to make sure your planning process goes smoothly. You need to decide who is involved in the process and what documentation they’ll need. You’ll also want to revisit your company’s vision and mission statements which define where your business is aiming to go.

These are the steps you can take to create a strategic plan for your business:

1. Identify and assess your current position

To understand where you’re headed, you first need to look at where you are now. I n this stage you should:

  • Collect customer and employee feedback to understand what is working well for you and what could use improvement.
  • Perform a needs assessment or SWOT analysis to understand more about the current state of your business.
  • Assess your available resources so you can understand what you have enough of and what you may need to reach your goals.

2. Set goals

Next, you can set goals that you’d like your business to achieve over the short and long term. It’s important to choose goals that align with your company mission and vision. You can use marketing and sales forecasts to give you an idea of what types of goals are realistic. In this phase you’ll also want to prioritize the goals you set — so you know which to choose if conflicts arise.

When setting goals, remember to set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.

3. Develop your plan

In this phase it’s time to put your plan together and map out a project roadmap. This is where your plan becomes clearer both to your planning committee and to your team members who will execute based on the plan.

You want to make sure that your plan is achievable with your current resources — so that you aren’t setting yourself up for failure. You’ll also want to set measurable milestones so you can track your progress along the way. You also need to set KPIs so you have objective numbers to determine if you’re heading in the right direction.

When developing your plan, you should make sure that any short-term action items align with long-term goals. And finally, you’ll need to get approval from leadership and stakeholders.

4. Implement your plan

Now that you’ve created your strategic plan it’s time to act. In fact, the first step of implementation is creating a strategic action plan. Your action plan will outline the specific tactics you’ll use to execute your strategic plan.

In this phase, you’ll also assign tasks to your team members so everyone knows what they are responsible for and what they will be contributing to your mission. It’s important to distribute and communicate your plan across your organization. This helps encourage transparency and will drive buy-in from everyone on your team.

As you are executing on your plan, you should rely on metrics and KPIs to track your performance.

5. Revise your plan as necessary

Next, you’ll want to revise your plan as you encounter roadblocks or market changes. Even the best strategic plans will change as you gather more data or feedback. Using tools — like a project management solution — can help you monitor the progress your team is making. You should schedule periodic evaluations to see which parts of the plan are going well and which need to be revised or reevaluated.

You can conduct reviews on a quarterly basis, so you have information at the end of the year to revise your plan if needed. Even if things are going well, you should make minor adjustments every year to keep your teams aligned and your strategy up to date. Any major revisions you make will require a new planning process — because a major adjustment could derail the rest of your strategic plan.

What is strategic management?

Strategic management is the process of formulating, implementing, and evaluating strategies to achieve the larger goals and objectives of an organization. It can sometimes be used interchangeably with the term strategic planning — but within strategic planning, strategic management means managing the plan being put into action.

Part of strategic management is being adaptive and adjusting to headwinds or organizational changes. You’ll also need to maintain a strong team culture, so your plan stays on track and team members stay engaged.

There are several models that strategic management can follow. Each takes a different approach to the management process, and how it solves problems that may arise.

One of these frameworks is the balanced scorecard method. This method looks at the strategic measures of a business beyond just financial metrics to get a more “balanced” look at performance. The phrase “balanced scorecard” refers to the management report that leaders may use to drive decision making within the business, since this approach looks at more than just numbers, it provides a more wholistic view of a business.

A strategic map is a visual representation of a business’s strategic objectives and their cause-and-effect relationships between each objective. This diagram helps visualize the strategic plan and understand which tasks are dependent on others. This map should be drawn during the development of the strategic plan to get a better understanding of how things should get done and in what order.

Strategic mapping can turn complex strategic plans into easily understandable visual representations. These can be helpful tools for communicating your strategy more clearly to team members and stakeholders within your organization. Strategic maps also help organizations identify success factors, prioritize initiatives, allocate resources, and monitor progress.

A strategic map can be designed in several ways, but needs to address the four main facets of business:

Strategic mapping

  • Financial. This section of the map should identify how the strategy helps meet the financial goals of the business.
  • Customer. This section should address the benefits that the customer will see from the specific strategy.
  • Internal business processes (IBPs). This section shares the benefits of the strategy to the processes of the business and their efficiency.
  • Learning and growth. This section will address how the business’s capabilities and knowledge will improve by using a given strategy.

Getting started with strategic planning

Strategic planning is a helpful tool for aligning everyone in your organization with your objectives and long-term goals. It can also help you gain a better understanding of your place in the market and how you can improve your business outcomes.

When you’re ready to get started, assemble your leadership team, draft your mission and vision statements, and begin by assessing the current state of your business. But you can’t get the most out of your strategic plan without a platform to drive the process forward.

That’s where Adobe Workfront can help. Workfront is an enterprise work management tool that connects work to strategy and drives better collaboration to deliver measurable business outcomes. It integrates people, data, processes, and technology across an organization so you can manage the entire lifecycle of projects from start to finish. By centralizing digital projects, cross-functional teams can connect, collaborate, and execute from anywhere to help them do their best work.

Take a product tour or watch an overview video to see how Workfront can help you execute on your strategic plan to improve your business outcomes.

https://business.adobe.com/blog/perspectives/workfront-and-the-employee-experience

https://business.adobe.com/blog/perspectives/get-the-most-out-of-workfront-discovery-by-avoiding-common-challenges

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/annual-planning

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The Complete Guide to Writing a Strategic Plan

By Joe Weller | April 12, 2019 (updated March 26, 2024)

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Writing a strategic plan can be daunting, as the process includes many steps. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of writing a strategic plan, what to include, common challenges, and more.

Included on this page, you'll find details on what to include in a strategic plan , the importance of an executive summary , how to write a mission statement , how to write a vision statement , and more.

The Basics of Writing a Strategic Plan

The strategic planning process takes time, but the payoff is huge. If done correctly, your strategic plan will engage and align stakeholders around your company’s priorities.

Strategic planning, also called strategy development or analysis and assessment , requires attention to detail and should be performed by someone who can follow through on next steps and regular updates. Strategic plans are not static documents — they change as new circumstances arise, both internally and externally.

Before beginning the strategic planning process, it’s important to make sure you have buy-in from management, a board of directors, or other leaders. Without it, the process cannot succeed.

Next, gather your planning team. The group should include people from various departments at different levels, and the planning process should be an open, free discussion within the group. It’s important for leaders to get input from the group as a whole, but they don’t necessarily need approval from everyone — that will slow down the process.

The plan author is responsible for writing and putting the final plan together and should work with a smaller group of writers to establish and standardize the tone and style of the final document or presentation.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to hire an external party to help facilitate the strategic planning process.

John Bryson

“It often can be helpful to have a really good facilitator to organize and pursue strategic conversations,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement .

Byson says the facilitator can be in-house or external, but they need experience. “You need to make sure someone is good, so there needs to be a vetting process,” he says.

One way to gauge a facilitator’s experience is by asking how they conduct conversations. “It’s important for facilitators to lead by asking questions,” Bryson says.

Bryson says that strong facilitators often ask the following questions:

What is the situation we find ourselves in?

What do we do?

How do we do it?

How do we link our purposes to our capabilities?

The facilitators also need to be able to handle conflict and diffuse situations by separating idea generation from judgement. “Conflict is part of strategic planning,” Bryson admits. “[Facilitators] need to hold the conversations open long enough to get enough ideas out there to be able to make wise choices.”

These outside helpers are sometimes more effective than internal facilitators since they are not emotionally invested in the outcome of the process. Thus, they can concentrate on the process and ask difficult questions.

A strategic plan is a dynamic document or presentation that details your company’s present situation, outlines your future plans, and shows you how the company can get there. You can take many approaches to the process and consider differing ideas about what needs to go into it, but some general concepts stand.

“Strategic planning is a prompt or a facilitator for fostering strategic thinking, acting, and learning,” says Bryson. He explains that he often begins planning projects with three questions:

What do you want to do?

How are we going to do it?

What would happen if you did what you want to do?

The answers to these questions make up the meat of the planning document.

A strategic plan is only effective when the writing and thinking is clear, since the intent is to help an organization keep to its mission through programs and capacity, while also building stakeholder engagement.

Question 1: Where Are We Now?

The answer (or answers) to the first question — where are we now? — addresses the foundation of your organization, and it can serve as an outline for the following sections of your strategic plan:

Mission statement

Core values and guiding principles

Identification of competing organizations

Industry analysis (this can include a SWOT or PEST analysis)

Question 2: Where Are We Going?

The answers to this question help you identify your goals for the future of the business and assess whether your current trajectory is the future you want. These aspects of the plan outline a strategy for achieving success and can include the following:

Vision statement about what the company will look like in the future

What is happening (both internally and externally) and what needs to change

The factors necessary for success

Question 3: How Do We Get There?

The answers to this question help you outline the many routes you can take to achieve your vision and match your strengths with opportunities in the market. A Gantt chart can help you map out and keep track of these initiatives.

You should include the following sections:

Specific and measurable goals

An execution plan that identifies who manages and monitors the plan

An evaluation plan that shows how you plan to measure the successes and setbacks that come with implementation

What to Include in a Strategic Plan

Strategic planning terminology is not standardized throughout the industry, and this can lead to confusion. Instead, strategic planning experts use many names for the different sections of a strategic plan.

Denise McNerney

“The terms are all over the map. It’s really the concept of what the intention of the terms are [that is important],” says Denise McNerney, President and CEO of iBossWell, Inc. , and incoming president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). She recommends coming up with a kind of glossary that defines the terms for your team. “One of the most important elements when you’re starting the strategic planning process is to get some clarity on the nomenclature. It’s just what works for your organization. Every organization is slightly different.”

No matter what terms you use, the general idea of a strategic plan is the same. “It’s like drawing a map for your company. One of the first steps is committing to a process, then determining how you’re going to do it,” McNerney explains.

She uses a basic diagram that she calls the strategic plan architecture . The areas above the red dotted line are the strategic parts of the plan. Below the red dotted line are the implementation pieces.

Strategic Plan Architecture

While the specific terminology varies, basic sections of a strategic plan include the following in roughly this order:

Executive summary

Elevator pitch or company description

Vision statement

Industry analysis

Marketing plan

Operations plan

Financial projections

Evaluation methods

Signature page

Some plans will contain all the above sections, but others will not — what you include depends on your organization’s structure and culture.

“I want to keep it simple, so organizations can be successful in achieving [the strategic plan],” McNerney explains. “Your plan has to be aligned with your culture and your culture needs to be aligned with your plan if you’re going to be successful in implementing it.”

The following checklist will help you keep track of what you have done and what you still need to do.

Writing A Strategic Plan Section

‌ Download Strategic Plan Sections Checklist

How to Write a Strategic Plan

Once you’ve assembled your team and defined your terms, it’s time to formalize your ideas by writing the strategic plan. The plan may be in the form of a document, a presentation, or another format.

You can use many models and formats to create your strategic plan (read more about them in this article ). However, you will likely need to include some basic sections, regardless of the particular method you choose (even if the order and way you present them vary). In many cases, the sections of a strategic plan build on each other, so you may have to write them in order.

One tip: Try to avoid jargon and generic terms; for example, words like maximize and succeed lose their punch. Additionally, remember that there are many terms for the same object in strategic planning.

The following sections walk you through how to write common sections of a strategic plan.

How to Write an Executive Summary

The key to writing a strong executive summary is being clear and concise. Don’t feel pressured to put anything and everything into this section — executive summaries should only be about one to two pages long and include the main points of the strategic plan.

The idea is to pique the reader’s interest and get them to read the rest of the plan. Because it functions as a review of the entire document, write the executive summary after you complete the rest of your strategic plan.

Jim Stockmal

“If you have a plan that’s really lengthy, you should have a summary,” says Jim Stockmal, President of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He always writes summaries last, after he has all the data and information he needs for the plan. He says it is easier to cut than to create something.

For more information about writing an effective executive summary, a checklist, and free templates, read this article .

If you want a one-page executive summary, this template can help you decide what information to include.

One-page Executive Summary Template

Download One-Page Executive Summary Template

Excel | Word | PDF

How to Write a Company Description

Also called an elevator pitch , the company description is a brief outline of your organization and what it does. It should be short enough that it can be read or heard during the average elevator ride.

The company description should include the history of your company, the major products and services you provide, and any highlights and accomplishments, and it should accomplish the following:

Define what you are as a company.

Describe what the company does.

Identify your ideal client and customer.

Highlight what makes your company unique.

While this may seem basic, the company description changes as your company grows and changes. For example, your ideal customer five years ago might not be the same as the current standard or the one you want in five years.

Share the company description with everyone in your organization. If employees cannot accurately articulate what you do to others, you might miss out on opportunities.

How to Write a Mission Statement

The mission statement explains what your business is trying to achieve. In addition to guiding your entire company, it also helps your employees make decisions that move them toward the company’s overall mission and goals.

“Ideally, [the mission statement is] something that describes what you’re about at the highest level,” McNerney says. “It’s the reason you exist or what you do.”

Strong mission statements can help differentiate your company from your competitors and keep you on track toward your goals. It can also function as a type of tagline for your organization.

Mission statements should do the following:

Define your company’s purpose. Say what you do, who you do it for, and why it is valuable.

Use specific and easy-to-understand language.

Be inspirational while remaining realistic.

Be short and succinct.

This is your chance to define the way your company will make decisions based on goals, culture, and ethics. Mission statements should not be vague or generic, and they should set your business apart from others. If your mission statement could define many companies in your line of work, it is not a good mission statement.

Mission statements don’t have to be only outward-facing for customers or partners. In fact, it is also possible to include what your company does for its employees in your mission statement.

Unlike other parts of your strategic plan that are designed to be reviewed and edited periodically, your company’s mission statement should live as is for a while.

That said, make the effort to edit and refine your mission statement. Take out jargon like world class, best possible, state of the art, maximize, succeed , and so on, and cut vague or unspecific phrasing. Then let your strategic planning committee review it.

How to Write a Vision Statement

Every action your company does contributes to its vision. The vision statement explains what your company wants to achieve in the long term and can help inspire and align your team.

“The vision is the highest-ordered statement of the desired future or state of what you want your business to achieve,” McNerney explains.

A clear vision statement can help all stakeholders understand the meaning and purpose of your company. It should encourage and inspire employees while setting your company’s direction. It also helps you rule out elements that might not align with your vision.

Vision statements should be short (a few sentences). They should also be memorable, specific, and ambitious. But there is a fine line between being ambitious and creating a fantasy. The vision should be clearly attainable if you follow the goals and objectives you outline later in your strategic planning plan.

Because you need to know your company’s goals and objectives to create an accurate vision statement, you might need to wait until you have more information about the company’s direction to write your vision statement.

Below are questions to ask your team as you craft your vision statement:

What impact do we want to have on our community and industry?

How will we interact with others as a company?

What is the culture of the business?

Avoid broad statements that could apply to any company or industry. For example, phrases like “delivering a wonderful experience” could apply to many industries. Write in the present tense, avoid jargon, and be clear and concise.

Vision statements should accomplish the following:

Be inspiring.

Focus on success.

Look at and project about five to 10 years ahead.

Stay in line with the goals and values of your organization.

Once you write your vision statement, communicate it to everyone in your company. Your team should be able to easily understand and repeat the company’s vision statement. Remember, the statements can change as the environment in and around your company changes.

The Difference Between Mission and Vision Statements

Mission and vision statements are both important, but they serve very different purposes.

Mission statements show why a business exists, while vision statements are meant to inspire and provide direction. Mission statements are about the present, and vision statements are about the future. The mission provides items to act upon, and the vision offers goals to aspire to.

For example, if a vision statement is “No child goes to bed hungry,” the accompanying mission would be to provide food banks within the city limits.

While many organizations have both mission and vision statements, it’s not imperative. “Not everyone has a vision statement,” McNerney says. “Some organizations just have one.”

If you choose to have only one statement, McNerney offers some advice: “Any statement you have, if you have just one, needs to include what [you do], how [you do it], why [you do it], and who you do it for.”

During the planning process, these key statements might change. “Early on in the process, you need to talk about what you are doing and why and how you are doing it. Sometimes you think you know where you want to go, but you’re not really sure,” McNerney says. “You need to have flexibility both on the plan content and in the process.”

How to Write Your Company’s Core Values

Company core values , sometimes called organizational values , help you understand what drives the company to do what it does. In this section, you’ll learn a lot about your company and the people who work with you. It should be relatively easy to write.

“The values are the core of how you operate [and] how you treat your people, both internally and externally. Values describe the behaviors you really want to advance,” McNerney says.

There are both internal and external values looking at your employees and coworkers, as well as customers and outside stakeholders. Pinpointing values will help you figure out the traits of the people you want to hire and promote, as well as the qualities you’re looking for in your customers.

Your values should align with your vision statement and highlight your strengths while mitigating weaknesses. McNerney says many organizations do not really consider or are not honest about their company’s values when working on strategic plans, which can lead to failure.

“Your strategies have to align with your values and vice versa,” she explains.

Many companies’ values sound like meaningless jargon, so take the time to figure out what matters to your company and push beyond generic language.

How to Write about Your Industry

When planning ahead for your business, it’s important to look around. How are matters inside your company? What are your competitors doing? Who are your target customers?

“[If you don’t do a thorough industry analysis], you’re doing your planning with your head in the sand. If you’re not looking at the world around you, you’re missing a whole dimension about what should inform your decision making,” McNerney advises.

Writing about your industry helps you identify new opportunities for growth and shows you how you need to change in order to take advantage of those opportunities. Identify your key competitors, and define what you see as their strengths and weaknesses. Performing this analysis will help you figure out what you do best and how you compare to your competition. Once you know what you do well, you can exploit your strengths to your advantage.

In this section, also include your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. You can choose from many templates to help you write this section.

Next, identify your target customers. Think about what they want and need, as well as how you can provide it. Do your competitors attract your target customers, or do you have a niche that sets you apart?

The industry analysis carries a price, but also provides many benefits. “It takes some time and money to do [a thorough industry analysis], but the lack of that understanding says a lot about the future of your organization. If you don’t know what is going on around you, how can you stay competitive?” explains McNerney.

How to Write Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives

This section is the bulk of your strategic plan. Many people confuse goals and objectives, thinking the terms are interchangeable, but many argue that the two are distinct. You can think of them this way:

Goals : Goals are broad statements about what you want to achieve as a company, and they’re usually qualitative. They function as a description of where you want to go, and they can address both the short and long term.

Objectives : Objectives support goals, and they’re usually quantitative and measurable. They describe how you will measure the progress needed to arrive at the destination you outlined in the goal. More than one objective can support one goal.

For example, if your goal is to achieve success as a strategic planner, your objective would be to write all sections of the strategic plan in one month.

iBossWell, Inc.’s McNerney reiterates that there are not hard and fast definitions for the terms goals and objectives , as well as many other strategic planning concepts. “I wouldn’t attempt to put a definition to the terms. You hear the terms goals and objectives a lot, but they mean different things to different people. What some people call a goal , others call an objective . What some people call an objective , others would call a KPI. ” They key, she explains, is to decide what the terms mean in your organization, explain the definitions to key stakeholders, and stick to those definitions.

How to Write Goals

Goals form the basis of your strategic plan. They set out your priorities and initiatives, and therefore are critical elements and define what your plan will accomplish. Some planning specialists use the term strategic objectives or strategic priorities when referring to goals, but for clarity, this article will use the term goals.

“[Goals] are the higher level that contain several statements about what your priorities are,” McNerney explains. They are often near the top of your plan’s hierarchy.

Each goal should reflect something you uncovered during the analysis phase of your strategic planning process. Goals should be precise and concise statements, not long narratives. For example, your goals might be the following:

Eliminate case backlog.

Lower production costs.

Increase total revenue.

Each goal should have a stated outcome and a deadline. Think of goal writing as a formula: Action + detail of the action + a measurable metric + a deadline = goal. For example, your goal might be: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020.

Another way to look at it: Verb (action) + adjective (description) = noun (result). An example goal: Increase website fundraising.

Your goals should strike a balance between being aspirational and tangible. You want to stretch your limits, but not make them too difficult to reach. Your entire organization and stakeholders should be able to remember and understand your goals.

Think about goals with varying lengths. Some should go out five to 10 years, others will be shorter — some significantly so. Some goals might even be quarterly, monthly, or weekly. But be careful to not create too many goals. Focus on the ones that allow you to zero in on what is critical for your company’s success. Remember, several objectives and action steps will likely come from each goal.

How to Write Objectives

Objectives are the turn-by-turn directions of how to achieve your goals. They are set in statement and purpose with no ambiguity about whether you achieve them or not.

Your goals are where you want to go. Next, you have to determine how to get there, via a few different objectives that support each goal. Note that objectives can cover several areas.

“You need implementation elements of the plan to be successful,” McNerney says, adding that some people refer to objectives as tactics , actions , and many other terms.

Objectives often begin with the words increase or decrease because they are quantifiable and measurable. You will know when you achieve an objective. They are action items, often with start and end dates.

Use the goal example from earlier: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020. In this example, your objectives could be:

Approach three new possible clients each month.

Promote the three key product areas on the website and in email newsletters.

Think of the acronym SMART when writing objectives: Make them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound.

Breaking down the process further, some strategic planners use the terms strategies and tactics to label ways to achieve objectives. Using these terms, strategies describe an approach or method you will use to achieve an objective. A tactic is a specific activity or project that achieves the strategy, which, in turn, helps achieve the objective.

How to Write about Capacity, Operations Plans, Marketing Plans, and Financial Plans

After you come up with your goals and objectives, you need to figure out who will do what, how you will market what they do, and how you will pay for what you need to do.

“If you choose to shortchange the process [and not talk about capacity and finances], you need to know what the consequences will be,” explains McNerney. “If you do not consider the additional costs or revenues your plan is going to drive, you may be creating a plan you cannot implement.”

To achieve all the goals outlined in your strategic plan, you need the right people in place. Include a section in your strategic plan where you talk about the capacity of your organization. Do you have the team members to accomplish the objectives you have outlined in order to reach your goals? If not, you may need to hire personnel.

The operations plan maps out your initiatives and shows you who is going to do what, when, and how. This helps transform your goals and objectives into a reality. A summary of it should go into your strategic plan. If you need assistance writing a comprehensive implementation plan for your organization, this article can guide you through the process.

A marketing plan describes how you attract prospects and convert them into customers. You don’t need to include the entire marketing plan in your strategic plan, but you might want to include a summary. For more information about writing marketing plans, this article can help.

Then there are finances. We would all like to accomplish every goal, but sometimes we do not have enough money to do so. A financial plan can help you set your priorities. Check out these templates to help you get started with a financial plan.

How to Write Performance Indicators

In order to know if you are reaching the goals you outline in your strategic plan, you need performance indicators. These indicators will show you what success looks like and ensure accountability. Sadly, strategic plans have a tendency to fail when nobody periodically assesses progress.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) can show you how your business is progressing. KPIs can be both financial and nonfinancial measures that help you chart your progress and take corrective measures if actions are not unfolding as they should. Other terms similar to KPIs include performance measures and performance indicators .

Performance indicators are not always financial, but they must be quantifiable. For example, tracking visitors to a website, customers completing a contact form, or the number of proposals that close with deals are all performance indicators that keep you on track toward achieving your goals.

When writing your performance indicators, pay attention to the following:

Define how often you need to report results.

Every KPI must have some sort of measure.

List a measure and a time period.

Note the data source where you will get your information to measure and track.

ASP’s Stockmal has some questions for you to ask yourself about picking performance indicators.

Are you in control of the performance measure?

Does the performance measure support the strategic outcomes?

Is it feasible?

Is data available?

Who is collecting that data, and how will they do it?

Is the data timely?

Is it cost-effective to collect that data?

ls the goal quantifiable, and can you measure it over time?

Are your targets realistic and time-bound?

Stockmal also says performance indicators cannot focus on only one thing at the detriment of another. “Don’t lose what makes you good,” he says. He adds that focusing on one KPI can hurt other areas of a company’s performance, so reaching a goal can be short-sided.

Some performance indicators can go into your strategic plan, but you might want to set other goals for your organization. A KPI dashboard can help you set up and track your performance and for more information about setting up a KPI dashboard, this article can help.

Communicating Your Strategic Plan

While writing your strategic plan, you should think about how to share it. A plan is no good if it sits on a shelf and nobody reads it.

Stefan Hofmeyer

“After the meetings are over, you have to turn your strategy into action,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . “Get in front of employees and present the plan [to get everyone involved].” Hofmeyer explains his research has shown that people stay with companies not always because of money, but often because they buy into the organization’s vision and want to play a part in helping it get where it wants to go. “These are the people you want to keep because they are invested,” he says.

Decide who should get a physical copy of the entire plan. This could include management, the board of directors, owners, and more. Do your best to keep it from your competitors. If you distribute it outside of your company, you might want to attach a confidentiality waiver.

You can communicate your plan to stakeholders in the following ways:

Hold a meeting to present the plan in person.

Highlight the plan in a company newsletter.

Include the plan in new employee onboarding.

Post the plan on the employee intranet, along with key highlights and a way to track progress.

If you hold a meeting, make sure you and other key planners are prepared to handle the feedback and discussion that will arise. You should be able to defend your plan and reinforce its key areas. The goal of the plan’s distribution is to make sure everyone understands their role in making the plan successful.

Remind people of your company’s mission, vision, and values to reinforce their importance. You can use posters or other visual methods to post around the office. The more that people feel they play an important part in the organization’s success, they more successful you will be in reaching your goals of your strategic plan.

Challenges in Writing a Strategic Plan

As mentioned, strategic planning is a process and involves a team. As with any team activity, there will be challenges.

Sometimes the consensus can take priority over what is clear. Peer pressure can be a strong force, especially if a boss or other manager is the one making suggestions and people feel pressured to conform. Some people might feel reluctant to give any input because they do not think it matters to the person who ultimately decides what goes into the plan.

Team troubles can also occur when one or more members does not think the plan is important or does not buy into the process. Team leaders need to take care of these troubles before they get out of hand.

Pay attention to your company culture and the readiness you have as a group, and adapt the planning process to fit accordingly. You need to find the balance between the process and the final product.

The planning process takes time. Many organizations do not give themselves enough time to plan properly, and once you finish planning, writing the document or presentation also takes time, as does implementation. Don’t plan so much that you ignore how you are going to put the plan into action. One symptom of this is not aligning the plan to fit the capacity or finances of the company.

Stockmal explains that many organizations often focus too much on the future and reaching their goals that they forget what made them a strong company in the first place. Business architecture is important, which Stockmal says is “building the capabilities the organization needs to fulfill its strategy.” He adds that nothing happens if there is no budget workers to do the work necessary to drive change.

Be careful with the information you gather. Do not take shortcuts in the research phase — that will lead to bad information coming out further in the process. Also, do not ignore negative information you may learn. Overcoming adversity is one way for companies to grow.

Be wary of cutting and pasting either from plans from past years or from other similar organizations. Every company is unique.

And while this may sound obvious, do not ignore what your planning process tells you. Your research might show you should not go in a direction you might want to.

Writing Different Types of Strategic Plans

The strategic planning process will differ based on your organization, but the basic concepts will stay the same. Whether you are a nonprofit, a school, or a for-profit entity, strategic plans will look at where you are and how you will get to where you want to go.

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Nonprofit

For a nonprofit, the strategic plan’s purpose is mainly how to best advance the mission. It’s imperative to make sure the mission statement accurately fits the organization.

In addition to a SWOT analysis and other sections that go into any strategic plan, a nonprofit needs to keep an eye on changing factors, such as funding. Some funding sources have finite beginnings and endings. Strategic planning is often continuous for nonprofits.

A nonprofit has to make the community care about its cause. In a for-profit organization, the marketing department works to promote the company’s product or services to bring in new revenue. For a nonprofit, however, conveying that message needs to be part of the strategic plan.

Coming up with an evaluation method and KPIs can sometimes be difficult for a nonprofit, since they are often focused on goals other than financial gain. For example, a substance abuse prevention coalition is trying to keep teens from starting to drink or use drugs, and proving the coalition’s methods work is often difficult to quantify.

This template can help you visually outline your strategic plan for your nonprofit.

Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template

Download Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template

Excel | Smartsheet

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a School

Writing a strategic plan for a school can be difficult because of the variety of stakeholders involved, including students, teachers, other staff, and parents.

Strategic planning in a school is different from others because there are no markets to explore, products to produce, clients to woo, or adjustable timelines. Schools often have set boundaries, missions, and budgets.

Even with the differences, the same planning process and structure should be in place for schools as it is for other types of organizations.

This template can help your university or school outline your strategic plan.

University Strategic Plan Outline Word Template

‌ ‌Download University Strategic Plan Outline – Word

How to Write a 5-Year Strategic Plan

There is no set time period for a strategic plan, but five years can be a sweet spot. In some cases, yearly planning might keep you continually stuck in the planning process, while 10 years might be too far out.

In addition to the basic sections that go into any strategic plan, when forecasting five years into the future, put one- and three-year checkpoints into the plan so you can track progress intermittently.

How to Write a 3-Year Strategic Plan

While five years is often the strategic planning sweet spot, some organizations choose to create three-year plans. Looking too far ahead can be daunting, especially for a new or changing company.

In a three-year plan, the goals and objectives have a shorter timeframe and you need to monitor them more frequently. Build those checkpoints into the plan.

“Most organizations do a three- to five-year plan now because they recognize the technology and the changes in business that are pretty dynamic now,” Stockmal says.

How to Write a Departmental Strategic Plan

The first step in writing a strategic plan for your department is to pay attention to your company’s overall strategic plan. You want to make sure the plans align.

The steps in creating a plan for a department are the same as for an overall strategic plan, but the mission statement, vision, SWOT analysis, goals, objectives, and so on are specific to only the people in your department. Look at each person separately and consider their core competencies, strengths, capabilities, and weaknesses. Assign people who will be responsible for certain tasks and tactics necessary to achieve your goals.

If you have access to a plan from a previous year, see how your department did in meeting its goals. Adjust the new plan accordingly.

When you finish your departmental plan, make sure to submit it to whomever is responsible for your company’s overall plan. Expect to make changes.

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Project

A strategic plan is for the big picture, not for a particular project for an organization. Instead of a strategic plan, this area would fall under project management.

If you have a failing project and need to turn it around, this article might help.

How to Write a Personal Strategic Plan

Creating a strategic plan isn’t only for businesses. You can also create a strategic plan to help guide both your professional and personal life. The key is to include what is important to you. This process takes time and reflection.

Be prepared for what you discover about yourself. Because you will be looking at your strengths and weaknesses, you might see things you do not like. It is important to be honest with yourself. A SWOT analysis on yourself will give you some honest feedback if you let it.

Begin with looking at your life as it is now. Are you satisfied? What do you want to do more or less? What do you value most in your life? Go deeper than saying family, happiness, and health. This exercise will help you clarify your values.

Once you know what is important to you, come up with a personal mission statement that reflects the values you cherish. As it does within a business, this statement will help guide you in making future decisions. If something does not fit within your personal mission, you shouldn’t do it.

Using the information you discovered during your SWOT and mission statement process, come up with goals that align with your values. The goals can be broad, but don’t forget to include action items and timeframes to help you reach your goals.

As for the evaluation portion, identify how you will keep yourself accountable and on track. You might involve a person to remind you about your plan, calendar reminders, small rewards when you achieve a goal, or another method that works for you.

Below is additional advice for personal strategic plans:

There are things you can control and things you cannot. Keep your focus on what you can act on.

Look at the positive instead of what you will give up. For example, instead of focusing on losing weight, concentrate on being healthier.

Do not overcommit, and do not ignore the little details that help you reach your goals.

No matter what, do not dwell on setbacks and remember to celebrate successes.

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Strategic Planning Process Definition, Steps and Examples

Published: 03 January, 2024

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Stefan F.Dieffenbacher

Digital Strategy

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Table of Contents

Organizations use Strategic Planning to gather all their stakeholders to evaluate the collection of current circumstances and decide upon their ongoing goals and benchmarks. They decide upon long-term objectives and establish a vision for the company’s future.

The efforts behind an organization’s Strategic Planning Processes are vital to its success, and yet, while many organizations acknowledge they need to do this kind of planning, they often don’t understand how to make it a reality. In this article, we explain the reasons behind Strategic Planning and how to make your Strategic Planning Process as powerful as possible.

What is a Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is a systematic process wherein the leaders of an organization articulate their vision for the future and delineate the goals and objectives that will guide the trajectory of the organization.

What is the Strategic Planning Process

Strategic planning is a process of defining an organization’s direction and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this direction . It involves creating a long-term plan that outlines the organization’s vision, mission, values, and objectives, as well as the strategies and tactics that will be used to achieve them.

Strategy is often misunderstood, which is surprising because fundamentally it’s a pretty basic concept. Strategy is a clearly expressed direction and a verified plan on how to get there. Your Strategic Planning Process formalizes the steps you’ll take to decide on your plan. The Strategic Planning Process facilitates using a Strategic Execution Framework that articulates where you’ll invest in innovation and where you can cut costs.

As far as business development planning is concerned, your Strategic Execution Framework is a vital tool for driving innovation, but first you must define the process you’ll undertake to determine how you and your team see the future of your organization. In this article, we discuss how to create your Strategic Plan and define its relationship to other concepts and documents that direct your business and its activities.

Innovation Strategy Execution Framework

While it’s true that every business is different and must develop their own processes, we believe there are some process  of strategic planning stepsthat benefit all organizations.

Below are our recommendations for the steps to take when undergoing your Strategic Planning Process, along with the questions we suggest you answer during each specific step.

Step One: Analyze your Business Environment

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What relevant market data do you have, and what do you still need?
  • What technology has emerged that impacts your business model?
  • How have customer expectations changed since your last Strategic Plan?
  • What advantages do you have over competitors?
  • Where is your company weaker compared to competitors?
  • What predictable complications are on the horizon?
  • Which unpredictable complications seem most likely or most potentially impactful?

Step Two: Set your Strategic Direction

  • What is your overall Business Purpose ?
  • How have your operations reflected your Purpose and Goals recently?
  • How should your operations reflect your Purpose and Goals?
  • Where do you see your business going in the next year?
  • In two years? In three years?
  • What are the metrics you’ll use to measure success?
  • What are your make-or-break necessities?

Step Three: Set and develop Strategic Goals and Strategic Objectives

  • Have you considered short-, mid-, and long-term business goals , and what are they?
  • How do your Strategic Goals reflect your Mission Statement?
  • How do your Strategic Goals reflect your company values and vision?
  • What daily operations must be completed to work toward your Strategic Objectives?
  • How will you communicate your Strategic Goals and Strategic Objectives?
  • Who is responsible for reporting on success?
  • How will strategic data be collected?

Related: Strategic Goals: Examples, Importance, Definitions and How to Set Them

Step Four: Drill down to Department-Level Objectives

  • What are specific department concerns?
  • How will your budget influence and be influenced by your Strategic Goals and Objectives?
  • Which departments have resources that could be shared to better advantage?
  • What roles do individual departments play in your overall Strategic Goals?
  • What ongoing projects become a priority because of your new Strategic Goals?
  • Are Departmental Objectives complementing each other and the overall Business Model?

Step Five: Manage and Analyze Performance

  • Who is on the Strategic Planning team?
  • Are tasks and job descriptions properly aligned to ensure the right work is getting completed?
  • What is the schedule for the meeting for Strategic Planning?
  • What are your metrics for measuring performance and success?
  • Have you clearly articulated and shared KPIs?
  • Who is responsible for gathering data?
  • How will data be collected?
  • How will data be reported?
  • What’s at stake for strategy success or failure?

Step Six: Review and develop your Strategic Plan

  • How should your Strategic Plan look on paper?
  • What is your Strategy Execution Framework —how will you guarantee the Strategic Plan Team’s decisions are respected and executed?
  • What is the review process?
  • How often do you evaluate your Strategic Plan?
  • How will you communicate your final Strategic Plan?

Strategic Planning Process Examples

1) apple strategic plan process.

  • Vision and Mission: Apple’s strategic planning begins with a clear vision and mission. Apple’s vision is to create innovative products that inspire and enrich people’s lives.
  • Environmental Analysis: Apple conducts thorough environmental analyses, considering technological trends, market demands, and competitive landscapes. This includes staying at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies.
  • SWOT Analysis: Apple evaluates its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For example, one of Apple’s strengths is its strong brand image, while a weakness might be dependence on a limited product line.
  • Setting business Goals and Objectives: Apple sets specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This could include objectives like maintaining a certain market share, launching new products, or achieving specific financial targets.
  • Strategies and Tactics: Apple develops strategies based on its goals. For instance, a strategic move might be expanding its ecosystem by integrating hardware, software, and services. Tactics could include aggressive marketing campaigns and product launches.
  • Implementation and Execution: Apple’s strategic plans are meticulously executed. The launch of iconic products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac series demonstrates effective implementation of their strategies.
  • Monitoring and Adjusting: Apple constantly monitors its performance metrics, customer feedback, and market dynamics. If necessary, adjustments are made to the strategic plan to stay responsive to changing conditions.

2) Tesla Strategic Plan Process

  • Vision and Mission: Tesla’s strategic planning revolves around its mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. The vision includes producing electric vehicles and renewable energy solutions.
  • Market Analysis: Tesla analyzes global markets for electric vehicles, renewable energy, and energy storage. This involves understanding regulatory environments, consumer behaviours, and technological advancements.
  • Risk Assessment: Tesla conducts risk assessments related to manufacturing, supply chain, and market volatility. For instance, it considers risks associated with battery production and global economic conditions.
  • Setting Bold Objectives: Tesla is known for setting ambitious objectives, such as achieving mass-market electric vehicle adoption and establishing a robust network of charging stations worldwide.
  • Innovative Strategies: Tesla’s strategic planning involves innovation in technology and business models . For instance, the “Gigafactories” for mass production of batteries and the “Autopilot” feature in vehicles reflect innovative strategies.
  • Agile Adaptation: Due to the rapidly changing automotive and energy sectors, Tesla maintains an agile approach. The company adapts its plans swiftly to capitalize on emerging opportunities, as seen in the expansion of its energy products.
  • Continuous Improvement: Tesla places emphasis on continuous improvement. The iterative development of electric vehicle models, software updates, and advancements in battery technology showcase a commitment to refinement.

These examples demonstrate how strategic planning is a dynamic and integral part of the business processes of leading companies. They highlight the importance of a well-defined vision, rigorous analysis, adaptability, and innovation in the strategic planning process.

Tactical vs. Strategic Planning Process

An easy way to distinguish your company’s Tactical Planning from your Strategic Planning is to separate your wants from your HOWs.

In your Strategic Planning, you identify what you WANT for the company. These are big-picture dreams (achievable, but big ) that are your definition of success. In your Tactical Planning, you identify the HOW for reaching those dreams, including the smaller necessary steps.

Each kind of planning is vital for securing the organization’s future, but they require different sorts of attention and philosophy, and teams that are good at planning one way may not necessarily be good at the other kind of planning.

Strategic Planning vs. Your Business Purpose

Your Strategic Planning Process will of course be deeply connected to your Business Purpose .

We like to think of Business Purpose in broad terms, choosing especially to think of a business’s role in massive transformation. Embedded within a Business Purpose is the Business Plan that directs operations and how a company delivers value to its customers.

What is the relationship between your Strategic Planning and your Business Purpose? One feeds into the other. Your Business Purpose must point to a larger impact you’ll have on the people who purchase your goods and services, and your Strategic Planning takes into account how you’ll grow and expand that Purpose as you reach more customers more successfully.

Strategic Planning vs Business Planning

Strategic planning and business planning are two distinct processes that are often used interchangeably, but they have some key differences.

Strategic planning is a top-level process that focuses on determining the direction of an organization over the long term. It involves setting goals, determining the key resources and actions necessary to achieve those goals, and allocating those resources in a way that best serves the organization’s future. The outcome of strategic planning is typically a long-term strategic plan that outlines the organization’s vision, mission, values, and objectives.

Business planning , on the other hand, is a more tactical process that focuses on the implementation of specific initiatives and projects to support the organization’s long-term goals. Business plans typically outline the steps necessary to launch a new product, enter a new market, or achieve a specific objective. They may also include budgets, marketing plans, and other operational details.

In short, strategic planning is about setting the direction for an organization, while business planning is about implementing specific initiatives to support that direction. Both processes are important for the success of an organization and should be used in conjunction to ensure that resources are allocated effectively and that the organization is moving in the right direction.

Why is Strategic Planning Important?

Imagine this scenario: A warehouse full of goods sits, unsold and unmoved. A collection of brilliant people languishes at desks all day. Outside, the world spins and changes. It’s ready for what these people could do, can do, and yet nothing happens. Needs remain unmet. Progress is halted. Everyday life takes several backwards steps. This is what your business will look like without proper Strategic Planning.

Strategic Planning forces you to consider your Strategic Objectives and critically compare them to the resources you have available. As you continuously evaluate the circumstances of your business and your customers, your Strategic Plan evolves to match your goals and business capabilities.

The process involved pushes decision-makers to practice Strategic Thinking . It limits wasteful spending, especially when upper-level managers are willing to forgo pet projects in favor of operations with a broader use and appeal.

Strategic Planning is important because it directs your resources to efficiently meet your overall Business Goals. Without Strategic Planning, you are likely to waste resources, make conflicting decisions, or fail to grow your business to its greatest potential.

When Do You Create a Strategic Plan?

Most businesses find value in reviewing their Strategic Plan every three years. This allows enough time to pass that you can evaluate the success of previous plans, reflect on the achievement of your Strategic Goals, consider developments outside your organization that affect your business, and begin formulating new goals that will become the next version of your plans.

When businesses first begin, they often have too many fires burning at once. They remain focused on existing today rather than planning for tomorrow. Most entrepreneurs remember those stressful early days of starting their businesses and can understand why formalities like Strategic Plans can fall by the wayside. We believe if your business lasts longer than a year it’s important to develop a plan for the future. Think of Strategic Planning as a celebration of a first anniversary—a sign that you’re poised to continue moving forward for years to come.

However, Strategic Planning is not a one-off event that is over once the cookies are all gone and the room clears. Your Strategic Planning team should meet regularly to measure how effective the plans are at helping you reach your Strategic Goals. Ad hoc subcommittees can play a role in gathering evidence to ensure that your plans remain appropriate, especially if conditions change.

For example, we recommended a close review of Strategic Plans and Strategic Goals once the COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that business was going to be affected at least short- to mid-term. We continue to recommend teams regularly revisit their Strategic Plans with global circumstances in mind to recognize opportunities and prepare for challenges.

The Benefits of Strategic Planning

As we’ve mentioned, there are many benefits of Strategic Planning . Some of those benefits include:

  • Shared sense of power and importance
  • United direction
  • Clear path and purpose for decision-making and operations
  • Boosted operational effectiveness
  • Responsible, efficient use of available resources
  • Meaningful work done on a daily basis
  • Tracking of progress
  • Ability to adjust to changing circumstances

What is a business without Strategic Planning? In most cases, it’s not much, nor is it long for the world. While it’s possible to accidentally find success without much planning, most successful businesses are a result of careful thought mixed with the urge to pounce on the opportunity.

What prepares you to pounce?

Your Strategic Planning and the processes that make it possible.

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The Three Levels of Strategy: Corporate Strategy, Business Strategy, and Functional Strategy

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1.2 Defining Strategic Management and Strategy

Learning objectives.

  • Learn what strategic management is.
  • Understand the key question addressed by strategic management.
  • Understand why it is valuable to consider different definitions of strategy.
  • Learn what is meant by each of the 5 Ps of strategy.

What Is Strategic Management?

Issues such as those currently faced by Apple are the focus of strategic management because they help answer the key question examined by strategic management —“Why do some firms outperform other firms?” More specifically, strategic management examines how actions and events involving top executives (such as Steve Jobs), firms (Apple), and industries (the tablet market) influence a firm’s success or failure. Formal tools exist for understanding these relationships, and many of these tools are explained and applied in this book. But formal tools are not enough; creativity is just as important to strategic management. Mastering strategy is therefore part art and part science.

This introductory chapter is intended to enable you to understand what strategic management is and why it is important. Because strategy is a complex concept, we begin by explaining five different ways to think about what strategy involves ( Table 1.1 “Defining Strategy: The Five Ps” ). Next, we journey across many centuries to examine the evolution of strategy from ancient times until today. We end this chapter by presenting a conceptual model that maps out one way that executives can work toward mastering strategy. The model also provides an overall portrait of this book’s contents by organizing the remaining nine chapters into a coherent whole.

Defining Strategy: The Five Ps

Defining strategy is not simple. Strategy is a complex concept that involves many different processes and activities within an organization. To capture this complexity, Professor Henry Mintzberg of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, articulated what he labeled as “the 5 Ps of strategy.” According to Mintzberg, understanding how strategy can be viewed as a plan, as a ploy, as a position, as a pattern, and as a perspective is important. Each of these five ways of thinking about strategy is necessary for understanding what strategy is, but none of them alone is sufficient to master the concept (Mintzberg, 1987).

Table 1.1 Defining Strategy: The Five Ps

Strategy as a Plan

Strategic plans are the essence of strategy, according to one classic view of strategy. A strategic plan is a carefully crafted set of steps that a firm intends to follow to be successful. Virtually every organization creates a strategic plan to guide its future. In 1996, Apple’s performance was not strong, and Gilbert F. Amelio was appointed as chief executive officer in the hope of reversing the company’s fortunes. In a speech focused on strategy, Amelio described a plan that centered on leveraging the Internet (which at the time was in its infancy) and developing multimedia products and services. Apple’s subsequent success selling over the Internet via iTunes and with the iPad can be traced back to the plan articulated in 1996 (Markoff, 1996).

A business model should be a central element of a firm’s strategic plan. Simply stated, a business model describes the process through which a firm hopes to earn profits. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that developing a viable business model requires that a firm sell goods or services for more than it costs the firm to create and distribute those goods. A more subtle but equally important aspect of a business model is providing customers with a good or service more cheaply than they can create it themselves.

Consider, for example, large chains of pizza restaurants such as Papa John’s and Domino’s.

image

Franchises such as Pizza Hut provide an example of a popular business model that has been successful worldwide.

Wikimedia Foundation – CC BY 2.0.

Because these firms buy their ingredients in massive quantities, they pay far less for these items than any family could (an advantage called economies of scale ). Meanwhile, Papa John’s and Domino’s have developed specialized kitchen equipment that allows them to produce better-tasting pizza than can be created using the basic ovens that most families rely on for cooking. Pizza restaurants thus can make better-tasting pizzas for far less cost than a family can make itself. This business model provides healthy margins and has enabled Papa John’s and Domino’s to become massive firms.

Strategic plans are important to individuals too. Indeed, a well-known proverb states that “he who fails to plan, plans to fail.” In other words, being successful requires a person to lay out a path for the future and then follow that path. If you are reading this, earning a college degree is probably a key step in your strategic plan for your career. Don’t be concerned if your plan is not fully developed, however. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, so maintaining flexibility is wise for individuals planning their career strategies as well as for firms.

For firms, these unexpected twists and turns place limits on the value of strategic planning. Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson captured the limitations of strategic plans when he noted, “Everyone has a plan until I punch them in the face.” From that point forward, strategy is less about a plan and more about adjusting to a shifting situation. For firms, changes in the behavior of competitors, customers, suppliers, regulators, and other external groups can all be sources of a metaphorical punch in the face. As events unfold around a firm, its strategic plan may reflect a competitive reality that no longer exists. Because the landscape of business changes rapidly, other ways of thinking about strategy are needed.

Strategy as a Ploy

A second way to view strategy is in terms of ploys. A strategic ploy is a specific move designed to outwit or trick competitors. Ploys often involve using creativity to enhance success. One such case involves the mighty Mississippi River, which is a main channel for shipping cargo to the central portion of the United States. Ships traveling the river enter it near New Orleans, Louisiana. The next major port upriver is Louisiana’s capital, Baton Rouge. A variety of other important ports exist in states farther upriver.

Many decades ago, the governor of Louisiana was a clever and controversial man named Huey Long. Legend has it that Long ordered that a bridge being constructed over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge be built intentionally low to the ground. This ploy created a captive market for cargo because very large barges simply could not fit under the bridge. Large barges using the Mississippi River thus needed to unload their cargo in either New Orleans or Baton Rouge. Either way, Louisiana would benefit. Of course, owners of ports located farther up the river were not happy.

Ploys can be especially beneficial in the face of much stronger opponents. Military history offers quite a few illustrative examples. Before the American Revolution, land battles were usually fought by two opposing armies, each of which wore brightly colored clothing, marching toward each other across open fields. George Washington and his officers knew that the United States could not possibly defeat better-trained and better-equipped British forces in a traditional battle. To overcome its weaknesses, the American military relied on ambushes, hit-and-run attacks, and other guerilla moves. It even broke an unwritten rule of war by targeting British officers during skirmishes. This was an effort to reduce the opponent’s effectiveness by removing its leadership.

Centuries earlier, the Carthaginian general Hannibal concocted perhaps the most famous ploy ever.

image

Hannibal’s clever use of elephants to cross the Alps provides an example of a strategic ploy.

Wikipedia – public domain.

Carthage was at war with Rome, a scary circumstance for most Carthaginians given their far weaker fighting force. The Alps had never been crossed by an army. In fact, the Alps were considered such a treacherous mountain range that the Romans did not bother monitoring the part of their territory that bordered the Alps. No horse was up to the challenge, but Hannibal cleverly put his soldiers on elephants, and his army was able to make the mountain crossing. The Romans were caught completely unprepared and most of them were frightened by the sight of charging elephants. By using the element of surprise, Hannibal was able to lead his army to victory over a much more powerful enemy.

Ploys continue to be important today. In 2011, a pizzeria owner in Pennsylvania was accused of making a rather unique attempt to outmaneuver two rival pizza shops. According to police, the man tried to sabotage his competitors by placing mice in their pizzerias. If the ploy had not been discovered, the two shops could have suffered bad publicity or even been shut down by authorities because of health concerns. Although most strategic ploys are legal, this one was not, and the perpetrator was arrested (Reuters, 2011).

Strategy as a Pattern

Strategy as pattern is a third way to view strategy. This view focuses on the extent to which a firm’s actions over time are consistent. A lack of a strategic pattern helps explain why Kmart deteriorated into bankruptcy in 2002. The company was started in the late nineteenth century as a discount department store. By the middle of the twentieth century, consistently working to be good at discount retailing had led Kmart to become a large and prominent chain.

By the 1980s, however, Kmart began straying from its established strategic pattern. Executives shifted the firm’s focus away from discount retailing and toward diversification. Kmart acquired large stakes in chains involved in sporting goods (Sports Authority), building supplies (Builders Square), office supplies (OfficeMax), and books (Borders). In the 1990s, a new team of executives shifted Kmart’s strategy again. Brands other than Kmart were sold off, and Kmart’s strategy was adjusted to emphasize information technology and supply chain management. The next team of executives decided that Kmart’s strategy would be to compete directly with its much-larger rival, Walmart. The resulting price war left Kmart crippled. Indeed, this last shift in strategy was the fatal mistake that drove Kmart into bankruptcy. Today, Kmart is part of Sears Holding Company, and its prospects remain uncertain.

In contrast, Apple is very consistent in its strategic pattern: It always responds to competitive challenges by innovating. Some of these innovations are complete busts. Perhaps the best known was the Newton, a tablet-like device that may have been ahead of its time. Another was the Pippin, a video game system introduced in 1996 to near-universal derision. Apple TV, a 2007 offering intended to link televisions with the Internet, also failed to attract customers. Such failures do not discourage Apple, however, and enough of its innovations are successful that Apple’s overall performance is excellent. However, there are risks to following a pattern too closely. A consistent pattern can make a company predictable, a possibility that Apple must guard against in the years ahead.

Strategy as a Position

Viewing strategy as a plan, a ploy, and a pattern involve only the actions of a single firm. In contrast, the next P— strategy as position —considers a firm and its competitors. Specifically, strategy as position refers to a firm’s place in the industry relative to its competitors. McDonald’s, for example, has long been and remains the clear leader among fast-food chains. This position offers both good and bad aspects for McDonald’s. One advantage of leading an industry is that many customers are familiar with and loyal to leaders. Being the market leader, however, also makes McDonald’s a target for rivals such as Burger King and Wendy’s. These firms create their strategies with McDonald’s as a primary concern. Old Navy offers another example of strategy as position. Old Navy has been positioned to sell fashionable clothes at competitive prices.

image

Old Navy occupies a unique position as the low-cost strategy within the Gap Inc.’s fleet of brands.

Lindsey Turner – clearance – CC BY 2.0.

Old Navy is owned by the same corporation (Gap Inc.) as the midlevel brand the Gap and upscale brand Banana Republic. Each of these three brands is positioned at a different pricing level. The firm hopes that as Old Navy’s customers grow older and more affluent, they will shop at the Gap and then eventually at Banana Republic. A similar positioning of different brands is pursued by General Motors through its Chevrolet (entry level), Buick (midlevel), and Cadillac (upscale) divisions.

Firms can carve out a position by performing certain activities in a different manner than their rivals. For example, Southwest Airlines is able to position itself as a lower-cost and more efficient provider by not offering meals that are common among other airlines. In addition, Southwest does not assign specific seats. This allows for faster loading of passengers. Positioning a firm in this manner can only be accomplished when managers make trade-offs that cut off certain possibilities (such as offering meals and assigned seats) to place their firms in a unique strategic space. When firms position themselves through unique goods and services customers value, business often thrives. But when firms try to please everyone, they often find themselves without the competitive positioning needed for long-term success. Thus deciding what a firm is not going to do is just as important to strategy as deciding what it is going to do (Porter, 1996).

To gain competitive advantage and greater success, firms sometimes change positions. But this can be a risky move. Winn-Dixie became a successful grocer by targeting moderate-income customers. When the firm abandoned this established position to compete for wealthier customers and higher margins, the results were disastrous. The firm was forced into bankruptcy and closed many stores. Winn-Dixie eventually exited bankruptcy, but like Kmart, its future prospects are unclear. In contrast to firms such as Winn-Dixie that change positions, Apple has long maintained a position as a leading innovator in various industries. This positioning has served Apple well.

Strategy as a Perspective

The fifth and final P shifts the focus to inside the minds of the executives running a firm. Strategy as perspective refers to how executives interpret the competitive landscape around them. Because each person is unique, two different executives could look at the same event—such as a new competitor emerging—and attach different meanings to it. One might just see a new threat to his or her firm’s sales; the other might view the newcomer as a potential ally.

An old cliché urges listeners to “make lemons into lemonade.” A good example of applying this idea through strategy as perspective is provided by local government leaders in Sioux City, Iowa. Rather than petition the federal government to change their airport’s unusual call sign—SUX—local leaders decided to leverage the call sign to attract the attention of businesses and tourists to build their city’s economic base. An array of clothing and other goods sporting the SUX name is available at http://www.flysux.com . Some strategists such as these local leaders are willing to take a seemingly sour situation and see the potential sweetness, while other executives remain fixated on the sourness.

Executives who adopt unique and positive perspectives can lead firms to find and exploit opportunities that others simply miss. In the mid-1990s, the Internet was mainly a communication tool for academics and government agencies. Jeff Bezos looked beyond these functions and viewed the Internet as a potential sales channel. After examining a number of different markets that he might enter using the Internet, Bezos saw strong profit potential in the bookselling business, and he began selling books online. Today, the company he created—Amazon—has expanded far beyond its original focus on books to become a dominant retailer in countless different markets. The late Steve Jobs at Apple appeared to take a similar perspective; he saw opportunities where others could not, and his firm has reaped significant benefits as a result.

Key Takeaway

  • Strategic management focuses on firms and the different strategies that they use to become and remain successful. Multiple views of strategy exist, and the 5 Ps described by Henry Mintzberg enhance understanding of the various ways in which firms conceptualize strategy.
  • Have you developed a strategy to manage your career? Should you make it more detailed? Why or why not?
  • Identify an example of each of the 5 Ps of strategy other than the examples offered in this section.
  • What business that you visit regularly seems to have the most successful business model? What makes the business model work?

Markoff, J. 1996, May 14. Apple unveils strategic plan of small steps. New York Times . Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/14/business/apple-unveils-strategic -plan-of-small-steps.html .

Mintzberg, H. 1987. The strategy concept I: Five Ps for strategy. California Management Review , 30 (1), 11–24.

Porter, M. E. 1996, November–December. What is strategy? Harvard Business Review , 61–79.

Reuters. 2011, March 1. Philadelphia area pizza owner used mice vs. competition—police. Retrieved from news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110301/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_crime_pizza.

Mastering Strategic Management Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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5.3 Strategic Issue Identification

So, what happens in strategic management once all the external and internal analysis is done and the SWOT framework is complete? Is it time to start developing strategies? No, not yet. One more thing needs to happen: defining the strategic issue or issues the firm needs to be sure to address.

What is a strategic issue ? First, it is an issue, something that needs to be addressed and resolved. Second, it is strategic. It is a long-term issue whose resolution will help move the organization toward its vision. Resolving the strategic issue will have a major impact on the direction and success of the firm (Ambler, 2020). The strategic issue is derived from the facts and data provided by the external and internal analysis and its synthesis through the SWOT framework. The business decision makers do not define the strategic issue(s) at the beginning of the strategic management process, through a hunch or guess, but after the analysis is completed. Once defined, the strategic issue helps drive the strategies that the organization develops and pursues. A strategic issue, when identified correctly and used effectively, becomes the strategic focus of the organization. In this process, more than one strategic issue may surface. Generally, decision makers will condense these into a single statement, or deal with less important strategic issues when establishing strategies or lower order goals.

The word “issue” often connotes a negative situation that a firm may be facing. For example, Southwest Airlines was faced with much lower passenger volumes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020. However, the Subway example discussed at the beginning of this chapter demonstrates that the strategic issue was framed as capitalizing on an opportunity—how to move into untapped international markets.

Ideally, the strategic issue is reduced to one concise sentence, so that it is easily captured and understood. Amplifying information may be provided to further explain the situation and justify the choice of the strategic issue. Often, the strategic issue starts with the word how . In the Southwest Airlines example, the strategic issue could be: “How does Southwest Airlines adjust to long-term, lower passenger volumes and remain the preferred, low-cost leader in the industry?” For Subway, it may have been “How does Subway enter untapped international markets?” Once defined, these companies would develop strategies that move their organization towards its vision, while addressing the strategic issue.

Black and white image of six smiling women sit around a table in a conference room with laptops.

The strategic issue will change over time, as the external, competitive and internal dynamics change. For organizations working through the strategic management process, defining the strategic issue may not be simple. The planning team members may interpret data differently or through the lens of their own perspective. The CFO may see the strategic issue in financial terms, the marketing director as a marketing issue, and the human resources director as an issue with manpower and training. One process organizations can use to determine the strategic issue is for planning team members to study the data from the analysis and each draft and share their idea of the strategic issue. The team then has a process to prioritize these, dropping some, combining some, until they arrive at a consensus on the wording of the strategic issue (Ambler, 2020).

Section Video

Strategic Issues  [01:57]

The video for this lesson discusses Strategic Issues.

You can view this video here: https://youtu.be/Zj_dxbJpCqo .

Key Takeaway

  • It is important to define the strategic issue of an organization using the information and data from the external and internal analysis and the SWOT framework. The strategic issue sets the strategic focus for the development of strategies. The strategies will address and attempt to resolve the strategic issue and move the organization toward accomplishing its vision.
  • Suppose internal and external analysis data from Apple show an upcoming slump in sales of desktop and laptop computers and tablets for years to come. What might the strategic issue for Apple be?
  • You are a college senior preparing to graduate in six months. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive furloughs and layoffs nationwide. What might be your strategic issue?

Ambler, T. E. (2020). Strategic issues: The pivotal process for strategic success . The Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. https://www.cssp.com/CD0799/ProcessForStrategicSuccess/ .

Image Credits

Figure 5.2: Morillo, Christina. “People on conference room.” Pexels license. Retrieved from https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-on-conference-room-1181427/ .

Video Credits

Gregg Learning. (2018, June 9). Strategic issues [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/Zj_dxbJpCqo .

The primary matter faced by an organization that must be addressed for the organization to survive, excel, or achieve a major strategic initiative

Strategic Management Copyright © 2020 by Reed Kennedy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  1. Part 1: Strategic Planning Process Defined

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  6. Tactical Planning Definition

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  1. Strategic Planning is an Oxymoron

  2. What is strategic planning?

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  4. PLANNING

  5. PRINCIPLES OF MARKETING

  6. Strategic Planning Process

COMMENTS

  1. What is Strategic Planning? Definition, Importance, Model, Process and

    A strategic plan is more than just a business tool, it also plays a key role in defining operational, cultural, and workplace ethics. Here are some of the key aspects of the importance of strategic planning: 1. Provides a unified goal . A strategic plan is like a unified action plan for the whole company in order to achieve common outcomes.

  2. Essential Guide to Strategic Planning

    Strategic planning is an organizational activity that aims to achieve a group's goals. The process helps define a company's objectives and investigates both internal and external happenings that might influence the organizational path. Strategic planning also helps identify adjustments that you might need to make to reach your goal.

  3. What is strategic planning?

    Strategic planning is a process in which organizational leaders determine their vision for the future as well as identify their goals and objectives for the organization. The process also includes establishing the sequence in which those goals should fall so that the organization is enabled to reach its stated vision .

  4. The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

    Estimated Duration. Determine organizational readiness. Owner/CEO, Strategy Director. Readiness assessment. Establish your planning team and schedule. Owner/CEO, Strategy Leader. Kick-Off Meeting: 1 hr. Collect and review information to help make the upcoming strategic decisions. Planning Team and Executive Team.

  5. Strategic Planning: 5 Planning Steps, Process Guide [2024] • Asana

    Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment. Before you can define where you're going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

  6. Strategic Planning

    1. Helps formulate better strategies using a logical, systematic approach. This is often the most important benefit. Some studies show that the strategic planning process itself makes a significant contribution to improving a company's overall performance, regardless of the success of a specific strategy. 2.

  7. STRATEGIC PLANNING

    STRATEGIC PLANNING definition: a process in which a company's executives decide what they want to achieve and the best actions and…. Learn more.

  8. 2.1: Developing a Strategic Plan

    Define strategic planning and list the steps in the strategic planning process. Write an effective vision statement and mission statement. ... The mission statement of an organization sums up in one to three sentences what the company does, who it serves, and what differentiates it from its competitors. Whereas the vision statement provided the ...

  9. Strategic planning

    Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to attain strategic goals.. Furthermore, it may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy. Strategic planning became prominent in corporations during the 1960s and remains an important aspect of strategic management.

  10. STRATEGIC PLANNING definition

    STRATEGIC PLANNING meaning: a process in which a company's executives decide what they want to achieve and the best actions and…. Learn more.

  11. What Is Strategic Planning? Definition, Steps and Examples

    1. Clarify the company's vision. One of the first steps in strategic planning is defining the vision, values and mission for the organization. The vision is the long-term objective of the business, and you should base it on ambitious but realistic goals. Values are beliefs that create the foundation for the company, and affect every part of ...

  12. Strategic Planning

    Strategic planning comprises the creation of tangible business strategies, their implementation, and evaluation of the results, all while keeping the organization's long-term aims and ambitions in mind. This notion is used to achieve organizational goals by coordinating efforts among several departments such as finance, human resources, and marketing. Such departments include personnel and ...

  13. Strategic planning

    Strategic planning is the process of defining your business's direction and outlining a path toward a preferred future. The goal of a strategic plan is to capture an organization's mission and core principles — to envision the fulfillment of these ideals.

  14. Quick Guide: How to Write a Strategic Plan

    One of the first steps is committing to a process, then determining how you're going to do it," McNerney explains. She uses a basic diagram that she calls the strategic plan architecture. The areas above the red dotted line are the strategic parts of the plan. Below the red dotted line are the implementation pieces.

  15. Strategic Planning Flashcards

    1) Define the vision/mission of the organization. 2) Assess the current situation (SWOT analysis) 3) Set goals. 4) Define strategies to achieve those goals. 5) Identify who is responsible for achieving those goals and timelines. 6) Finalize and communicate strategic plan. 7) Monitor progress.

  16. Strategic Planning Process Definition, Steps and Examples

    The outcome of strategic planning is typically a long-term strategic plan that outlines the organization's vision, mission, values, and objectives. Business planning, on the other hand, is a more tactical process that focuses on the implementation of specific initiatives and projects to support the organization's long-term goals.

  17. 1.2 Defining Strategic Management and Strategy

    Strategy as a Plan. Strategic plans are the essence of strategy, according to one classic view of strategy. A strategic plan is a carefully crafted set of steps that a firm intends to follow to be successful. Virtually every organization creates a strategic plan to guide its future.

  18. Strategic Planning: Why It Makes a Difference, and How to Do It

    Strategic planning provides the structure to make day-to-day decisions that follow a larger vision, creates a direction for your practice, and maximizes your options for influencing your environment. In oncology practice, where dramatic changes in reimbursement, technology, and the marketplace are just a few of the driving forces, "the future ...

  19. What Is Strategic Management? Benefits, Process, and Careers

    Types of strategy. One way of thinking about strategic management is to classify the management focus into three types of strategy: • A business strategy is a high-level plan where you outline how your organization will achieve its objectives. • Operational strategies are much more specific plans where you detail what actions to take to achieve the desired results.

  20. Planning vs Strategy: When To Use Each One? What To Consider

    The answer is both. Planning and strategy are both important components of achieving success, but they serve different purposes. Planning is more tactical and focuses on the short-term, while strategy is more strategic and looks at the big picture. To be successful, you need both planning and strategy.

  21. 5.3 Strategic Issue Identification

    The strategic issue is derived from the facts and data provided by the external and internal analysis and its synthesis through the SWOT framework. The business decision makers do not define the strategic issue (s) at the beginning of the strategic management process, through a hunch or guess, but after the analysis is completed.

  22. How would you define "strategy" in one sentence?

    Why and how you want to accomplish a particular objective. Making sure you have the right objective ("what") is also crucial, i.e., asking the right questions

  23. Strategic vs Strategical: Decoding Common Word Mix-Ups

    In short, "strategic" refers to something related to strategy or the overall plan for achieving a goal. "Strategical", on the other hand, is a less common variant that has the same meaning as "strategic". Throughout this article, we will use "strategic" as the default term for simplicity and clarity. Now that we have established ...