How to Create a Strategic Plan
Looking for a way to take your company in a new and profitable direction? It starts with strategic planning. Keep reading to learn what a strategic plan is, why you need it and how you can strategically create one.
When it comes to business and finance, strategic planning will help you allocate your resources, energy and assets. When implemented, a strategic plan will begin to move your operations in a more profitable direction. The primary goal of the plan is to ensure you and any other stakeholders are on the same page and striving to reach the same goal.
Creating a strategic plan requires a disciplined effort. Once you put the plan into action, it will influence the segment of customers that you target, how you serve those customers and the experience those customers have.
Assess the Current Infrastructure and Operations
The first step in creating a strategic plan is to carefully assess your existing infrastructure and operations. You can do this through a SWOT analysis, which is an analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The goal here is to pinpoint the resources that you use to carry out your day-to-day operations, to look at your monthly revenue patterns, to list any company challenges related to the customer experience and, most importantly, to look at your marketing methods and ways to improve the overall customer experience.
Creation of Mission Statement and Objectives
The next step is to create a mission statement. You may already have one, but it’s important to note your mission at the top of the strategic plan document you create. This ensures everyone is focused on the same goal. Your mission statement should cover why you started the company and what you intend to accomplish through the products and services that you offer.
In addition to the mission statement, make sure to outline both short- and long-term objectives. List the objectives according to their priority and designate certain managers or employees to be responsible for each one. Also, jot down the resources that will be used to achieve each objective.
Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve and who is responsible for each goal, it’s time to deploy the plan and measure its progress. A weekly meeting is extremely important for all managers and stakeholders provide feedback. Your goal is to determine if the company is headed in the right direction. If not, you’ll need to revise the strategic plan accordingly.
Strategic Plans Are Ongoing
Once your strategic plan helps you achieve several objectives, it’s smart to regroup and set new objectives. As your company grows, you can set new goals to ensure the company keeps moving forward. You can share the success of your strategic plan with potential investors as a way to tap into new capital funding.
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What is strategic planning?
What is strategic plan management?
Benefits of robust strategic planning and management
10 steps in the strategic planning process.
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. - Dwight D. Eisenhower
It’s that time again.
Every three to five years, most larger organizations periodically plan for the future. Many times strategic planning documents are shelved and forgotten until the next cycle begins. On the other hand, many smaller and newer organizations, propelled by urgency, may not devote the necessary time and energy to the strategic planning process.
Only 63% of businesses plan more than a year out. They fail to see that — contrary to Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat — “any way” does not take you there.
For all organizations, a more rigorous annual planning process is critical for driving future success, profitability, value, and impact.
John Kotter, a former professor at Harvard Business School and noted expert on innovation says, “ Strategy should be viewed as a dynamic force that constantly seeks opportunities, identifies initiatives that will capitalize on them, and completes those initiatives swiftly and efficiently.”
There’s hardly a better case that can be made for dynamic planning than in the tech industry, where mergers and acquisitions are accelerating exponentially. Companies need to be nimble enough to navigate rapid change . In this case, planning should occur quarterly.
Strategic planning is an ongoing process by which an organization sets its forward course by bringing all of its stakeholders together to examine current realities and define its vision for the future.
It examines its strengths and weaknesses, resources available, and opportunities. Strategic planning seeks to anticipate future industry trends . During the process, the organization creates a vision, articulates its purpose, and sets strategic goals that are long-term and forward-focused.
Those strategic goals inform operational goals and incremental milestones that need to be reached. The operational plan has clear objectives and supporting initiatives tied to metrics to which everyone is accountable . The plan should be agile enough to allow for recalibrating when necessary and redistributing resources based on internal and external forces.
The output of the planning process is a document that is shared across the enterprise.
Strategic planning for individuals
Strategic planning isn’t just for companies. At BetterUp, strategic planning is one of the skills that we identify, track, and develop within the Whole Person Model . For individuals, strategic planning is the ability to think through ways to achieve desired outcomes. Just as strategic planning helps organizations realize their goals for the future, it helps individuals grow and achieve goals in a unified direction.
Working backward from the desired outcome, effective strategic planning consists of coming up with the steps we need to take today in order to get where we want to be tomorrow.
While no plan is infallible, people who develop this skill are good at checking to make sure that their actions are in alignment with the outcomes that they want to see in the future. Even when things don’t go according to plan, their long-term goals act as a “North star” to get them back on course. In addition, envisioning desired future states and figuring out how to turn them into reality enhances an individual’s sense of personal meaning and motivation.
Whether we’re talking about strategic planning for the company or the individual, strategic plans can go awry in a variety of ways including:
- Unrealistic goals and too many priorities
- Poor communication
- Using the wrong measures
- Lack of leadership
The extent to which that document is shelved until the next planning cycle or becomes a dynamic map of the future depends on the people responsible for overseeing the execution of the plan.
What is strategic plan management?
"Most people think of strategy as an event, but that’s not the way the world works," according to Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. "When we run into unanticipated opportunities and threats, we have to respond. Sometimes we respond successfully; sometimes we don’t. But most strategies develop through this process. More often than not, the strategy that leads to success emerges through a process that works 24/7 in almost every industry."
Strategic business management is the ongoing process by which an organization creates and sustains a successful roadmap that moves the company in the direction it needs to move, year after year, for long-term success. It spans from research and formulation to execution, evaluation, and adjustment. Given the pace of change, strategic management is more relevant and important than ever for assigning measurable goals and action steps
Many organizations fail because they don’t have the strategic management team at the table right from the beginning of the planning process. A strategic plan is only as good as its ability to be executed and sustained.
A strategic management initiative might be driven by an internal group — many companies have an internal strategy team — or an outside consulting firm. Ultimately company leaders need to own executing and sustaining the strategy.
Strategic management teams
In this Harvard Business Review article, Ron Carucci from consulting firm Navalent reports that 61% of executives in a 10-year longitudinal study felt they were not prepared for the strategic challenges they faced upon being appointed to senior leadership roles. Lack of commitment to the plan is also a contributing factor. In addition, leaders attending to quarterly targets, crisis management , and reconciling budgets often consider the execution of a long-term strategy a low priority.
A dedicated strategic management team works with those senior leaders and managers throughout the organization to communicate, coordinate and evaluate progress against goals. They tie strategic objectives to day-to-day operational metrics throughout the enterprise.
A good strategic management group can assist in creating a culture of empowerment and learning . It holds regular meetings with employees. It sets a clear agenda and expectations to make the strategic plan real and compelling to the organization through concrete objectives, results, and timelines.
Strategy development is a lot of work, but the benefits are lasting. After all, as the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Taking the time for review and planning activities has the following benefits:
- Organizations and people are set up to succeed
- Increased likelihood of staying on track
- Decreased likelihood of being distracted or derailed
- Progress through the plan is communicated throughout the organization
- Metrics facilitate course correction
- Budgets enterprise-wide are based on strategy
- Cross-organization alignment
- Robust employee performance and compensation plans
- Commitment to learning and training
- A robust strategic planning process gets everyone involved and invested in the organizations
- Employees inform management about what’s working or not working at the operational level
- Innovation is encouraged and rewarded
- Increased productivity
1. Define mission and vision
Begin by articulating the organization's vision for the future. Ask, "What would success look like in five years?" Create a mission statement describing organizational values and how you intend to reach the vision. What values inform and determine mission, vision, and purpose?
Purpose-driven strategic goals articulate the “why” of what the corporation is doing. It connects the vision statement to specific objectives, drawing a line between the larger goals and the work that teams and individuals do.
2. Conduct a comprehensive assessment
This stage includes identifying an organization’s strategic position.
Gathering data from internal and external environments and respective stakeholders takes place at this time. Involving employees and customers in the research.
The task is to gather market data through research. One of the most critical components of this stage is a comprehensive SWOT analysis that involves gathering people and bringing perspectives from all stakeholders to determine:
- W eaknesses
- O pportunities
Strengths and weaknesses — In this stage, planners identify the company’s assets that contribute to its current competitive advantage and/or the likelihood of a significant increase in the organization’s market share in the future. It should be an objective assessment rather than an inflated perspective of its strengths.
An accurate assessment of weaknesses requires looking outward at external forces that can reveal new opportunities as well as threats. Consider the massive shift in multiple industries whose strategy has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While it was disastrous to the airline and restaurant industries’ business models , tech companies were able to seize the opportunity and address the demands of remote work.
Michael Porter’s book Competetive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors claims that there are five forces at work in an industry that influence that industry’s ability to develop a competitive strategy. Since the book was published in 1979, organizations have turned to Porter’s theory to create their strategic framework.
Here are the 5 forces (and key questions) that determine the competitive strategy for most industries.
- Competitive rivalry : When considering the strengths of an organization’s competitors it’s important to ask: How do our products/services hold up to our competition? If the rivalry is intense, companies need to consider what capacity they have to gain leverage through price cuts or bold marketing strategies. If there is little competition, the organization has a substantial gain in the market.
- Supplier power: How might suppliers influence strategy? For example, what if suppliers raised their prices? To what extent would a company need a particular supplier for our product(s)? Is it possible to switch suppliers in a way that is more cost effective and efficient? The number of suppliers that exist will determine your ability to keep costs low.
- Buyer power: To what extent do buyers have the ability to shop around right into the hands of your competitors? How much power does your customer base have in determining price? A small number of well-informed buyers shifts the power in their direction while a large pool may give you the strategic advantage
- Threat of substitution: What is the threat of a company’s buyer substituting your services/products from the competition? What if the buyer figures out another way to access the services/products that it offers?
- Threat of new entry: How easy is it for newcomers to enter the organization’s market?
Considering the factors above, determine the company’s value through financial forecasting . While almost certainly to become a moving target influenced by the five forces, a forecast can assign initial anticipated measurable results expected in the plan or ROI: profits/cost of investment.
4. Set the organizational direction of the business
The above research and assessment will help an organization to set goals and priorities. Too often an organization’s strategic plan is too broad and over-ambitious. Planners need to ask, ”What kind of impact are we seeking to have, and in what time frame?” They need to drill down to objectives that will have the most impact.
5. Create strategic objectives
This next phase of operational planning consists of creating strategic objectives and initiatives. Kaplan and Norton posit in their balanced scorecard methodology that there are four perspectives for consideration in identifying the conditions for success. They are interrelated and must be evaluated simultaneously.
- Financial : Such considerations as growing shareholder value, increasing revenue, managing cost, profitability, or financial stability inform strategic initiatives.
- Customer-satisfaction: Objectives can be determined by identifying targets related to one or some of the following: value for the cost, best service, increased market share, or providing customers with solutions.
- Internal processes such as operational processes and efficiencies, investment in innovation, investment in total quality and performance management , cost reduction, improvement of workplace safety, or streamlining processes.
- Learning and growth: Organizations must ask: Are initiatives in place in terms of human capital and learning and growth to sustain change? Objectives may include employee retention, productivity, building high-performing teams, or creating a pipeline for future leaders .
6. Align with key stakeholders
It’s a team effort. The success of the plan is in direct proportion to the organization’s commitment to inform and engage the entire workforce in strategy execution. People will only be committed to strategy implementation when they're connected to the organization's goals. With everyone pulling in the same direction, cross-functional decision-making becomes easier and more aligned.
7. Begin strategy mapping
A strategy map is a powerful tool for illustrating the cause-effect of those perspectives and connecting them to between 12 and 18 strategic objectives. Since most people are visual learners, the map provides an easy-to-understand diagram for everyone in the organization creating shared knowledge at all levels.
8. Determine strategic initiatives
Following the development of strategic objectives, strategic initiatives are determined. These are the actions the organization will take to reach those objectives. They may relate initiatives related to factors such as scope, budget, raising brand awareness, product development, and employee training.
9. Benchmark performance measures and analysis
Strategic initiatives inform SMART goals to which metrics are assigned to evaluate performance. These measures cascade from senior management to management to front-line workers. At this stage, the task is to create goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based informing the operational plan.
Benchmarks are established against so that performance can be measures, and a time frame is created. Key performance indicators (KPI’s) are assigned based on organizational goals. These indicators align workers’ performance and productivity with long-term strategic objectives.
10. Performance evaluation
Assessment of whether the plan has been successful . It measures activities and progress toward objectives and allows for the creation of improved plans and objectives in order to improve overall performance .
Think of strategic planning as a circular process beginning and ending with evaluation. Adjust a plan as necessary. The pace at which review of the plan is necessary may be once a year for many organizations or quarterly for organizations in rapidly evolving industries.
Prioritizing the strategic planning process
The strategic planning meeting may have a reputation for being just another to-do, but it might be time to take a second look. With the right action plan and a little strategic thinking, you can reinvigorate your business environment and start planning for success.
It's that time to get excited about the future again.
Betterup Fellow Coach, M.S.Ed, M.S.O.D.
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Insights / Executive Leadership / Article
9 steps to successful functional strategic planning.
May 29, 2023
Contributor: Jackie Wiles
Take these steps to ensure your strategic planning process is productive, adaptable and tied to enterprise goals.
Only 29% of strategists agree their organizations change plans fast enough to respond to disruption. Gartner’s latest research shows companies that do this have a common attribute: Their business and function leaders are highly engaged in the strategy planning process.
While functional leaders should never develop strategic plans in a vacuum, today’s disrupted conditions make it especially critical for functional strategic plans to account for a variety of scenarios and be able to change with pivots in enterprise strategy.
“The key is to abide by some key principles of any strategic planning process — whether at the enterprise, business-unit or functional levels,” says Marc Kelly, VP at Gartner. “And eliminate everything that isn't necessary and sufficient to communicate an effective strategy.”
Download now: Build a Better Strategic Plan for Your Function
Commit to being strategic-minded
Before you even start your functional planning process, commit to keeping a strategic mindset. Don’t allow yourself to be hijacked by short-termism, tactical execution plans and other check-the-box activities. All too often, concerns about meeting short-term targets, fear of failure and a preoccupation with operational issues overwhelm aspiration.
This principle applies to your mindset on cost management and budgeting . Commit to a strategic approach wherever and whenever you decide which initiatives to pursue and fund.
View your function’s cost architecture through the lens of business value, and view cost optimization as a continuous discipline focused on directing resources (time, capabilities and budget) to differentiating growth initiatives , such as digitalization.
Be clear on the best budgeting approach(es) for your function’s needs, considering what type of purpose-driven budgeting best supports your strategy execution.
Download now: Your Guide to Optimizing Costs Strategically, Not Tactically
Then take a methodical step-by-step approach
The best functional plans identify select initiatives that will drive enterprise ambitions and commit the capacity (time, budget, talent and technology) necessary to execute successfully. These nine steps provide a guide by which functional leaders can ensure a rigorous approach to planning, however adaptive their enterprise’s strategy .
Step 1: Outline expectations
Clearly define the enterprise and business context upfront for all stakeholders to prevent managers and executives from misunderstanding one another and derailing the process.
Outline for your function the responsibilities, process timelines and expected outcomes for each participant, especially in cases where the planning and budgeting processes cross functions. Identify which stakeholder(s) will ultimately sign off on your strategy and budget plans.
Step 2: Verify the business context
Enterprise mission , which defines your organization’s reason for being and the goals it will continually pursue.
Example: One electric-car maker’s mission “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy ” reflects its absolute commitment to moving toward sustainable practices and reminds employees of the company’s broader purpose.
Enterprise vision , which embodies the organization’s abstract but realistic aspirations, including underlying values, principles and beliefs that support its decision-making processes.
Example: One aerospace company’s vision “to be the premier international defense, aerospace and security company” is realistic and more alluring than the status quo. It’s directional and focused.
Make sure your function’s employees know how the mission and vision apply to their specific work. Be clear what impact business priorities, challenges and pivots will have on your function’s imperatives, opportunities, risks and priorities.
Step 3: Set goals and objectives
Enterprise strategy translates business aspirations into:
Goals: Individual or combined undertakings that, when achieved, drive differentiated value in the longer term.
Example: Become the largest supplier of renewable electricity in Europe.
Objectives: Discrete and measurable steps that describe how you will achieve a specific goal (see step 4 for the actions required for this).
Example: Increase wind capacity by 200% overall in three years, with 10 new wind farms across five regions in Europe.
Once clear on the enterprise plan, you can evaluate the current state of your functional activities, identify the future state, and set goals and objectives accordingly.
Step 4: Assess your capabilities
Identify key functional capabilities required to execute on your action plan. Ask business partners to assess how they perceive your function’s strengths and weaknesses. Your assessment and that of your business partners should broadly align. Regardless, generate a prioritized list of functional capabilities to bolster or gaps to fill as a result of your findings.
Step 5: Develop an action plan
This is the stage at which you take your general assessment of goals and objectives and translate them into detailed action steps with assigned responsibilities. This functional action plan should be a formal document that summarizes the sequence of steps or initiatives required to attain an objective. This is the primary source of information for how you will execute, monitor, control and close out objectives.
Action plans are subject to change once surprise events occur, so be prepared to respond with an adaptive strategy to respond to change as and when you can handle it.
Step 6: Set measures and metrics
The terms measure and metric are often used interchangeably, but they are different.
A measure is an observable business outcome (for example, employee engagement ). Measures allow you to evaluate the efficacy of your action plans. Agree on them in advance to avoid reporting biases.
A metric describes the actual data collected to quantify the measure (say, the percentage of “satisfied” employees according to an annual survey ).
Make sure measures and metrics are complete enough to account for a range of variables. For example, don’t only use customer satisfaction to measure engagement. Also track critical factors, such as discretionary effort and intent to stay.
Step 7: Put your strategy on one — yes, one — page
Simply and clearly state the key elements of your strategic plan: where the functional organization is, where it is going and how it will get to the future state.
Capture an overview on a single page that communicates how you are adding value today and demonstrates how you plan to impact the business over the next year. Include a statement of strategy, a before-and-after description of the state of your function, one or two critical assumptions underpinning the strategy, and five to seven initiatives required to meet the functional objectives established to support business goals.
Step 8: Drive the plan home
Do this by evangelizing the objectives and strategy across your function and company. The one-page strategy template is a helpful tool, as it makes the plan easy for others to consume, but you’ll still need a deliberate process for communicating the plan — and ensuring that key constituencies understand and agree with it.
You must develop a clear and consistent message that drives buy-in and commitment among functional leadership and engagement and motivation among the workforce, with all stakeholders clear on how your priorities are changing and why.
Step 9: Prepare to respond to change
Once the strategic plan is adopted and shared, it’s critical to measure progress against the objectives, revisit and monitor the plan to ensure it remains valid, and adapt the strategy as business conditions change. To do this:
Monitor triggers to track the effectiveness of the strategic plan.
Cancel underperforming projects quickly.
Track and validate assumptions periodically.
Lastly, make sure you have an agreed-upon action plan for specific steps to take or decisions to make to increase the chances of success when monitoring triggers an alarm.
This article has been updated annually to reflect new events, conditions and research.
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6 Elements of Effective Strategic Planning
While the business operations framework is a continuous cycle in which each stage informs the next, developing a strategic plan is the best place to start.
During the strategic planning process, an organization performs three steps:
- Builds or modifies the foundational strategic vision and mission
- Commits to goals that drive overall health
- Develops a long-term plan to achieve the goals
A strong strategic plan positions the organization for success and clearly defines it at every level.
A common mistake we see businesses make is starting tactical initiative execution without first communicating and aligning on the goal. Skipping these important steps can leave your organization without direction.
Read ahead to learn more about the six vital elements of strategic planning: vision , mission , objectives , strategy , approach , and tactics .
1. Define your vision
An organization’s vision statement is an aspirational description of what it wants to achieve in the future..
A vision statement serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action — a definition of where you want your organization to be in the long term. It sets the tone and provides a North Star on the horizon.
One example of a company with a strong vision statement is Warby Parker, the online prescription glasses retailer founded in 2010 that is now worth an estimated $3 billion.
Warby Parker’s vision statement has two parts: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. We also believe that everyone has a right to see.”
With just three sentences, the vision statement tells you exactly what the company aims to achieve. Namely, to make the process for buying prescription glasses and sunglasses fun and straightforward (unlike the traditional method). The vision also aims for customers to have fashionable frames, but at a lower cost than existing options.
The last sentence of the vision statement adds in a purpose statement (aka why the company exists): “We also believe that everyone has a right to see.” Since the beginning, Warby Parker has touted its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program that donates glasses to people who can’t otherwise afford them. According to the CEO, this purpose is what motivates employees to join and stay with the company. Not all leaders include a social impact focus in their company’s vision and purpose statement, but it’s becoming increasingly popular with the growing buying power of Millennial and Gen Z consumers.
A powerful vision statement helps company employees focus their work in the right direction — and a strong vision statement will do the same for your organization.
2. Create your mission
While your vision is an organization-wide goal, your mission how you plan to achieve the vision..
Without a mission, your organization lacks the why and how. If everyone in your organization has their own interpretation of the vision, it can lead to conflicting strategies and initiatives.
For Warby Parker, there are many possible routes to achieve the company vision that states “buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.”
The company’s mission statement is: “By circumventing traditional channels, designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, we’re able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.”
After the founding team realized early on that one large company dominated the eyewear industry with inflated prices, they decided to find a way to lower prices and increase quality, while also turning a profit. The resulting actions included bringing many traditionally outsourced services in-house, such as design and consumer marketing/sales.
3. Set your objectives
Objectives are specific results that a person or system aims to achieve within a time frame..
Defining success early lets you know if you are on the path to achieve your mission and vision. Clearly articulating your objectives creates goal posts by which your organization can measure its overall health and the impact of strategic initiatives.
In general, good objectives should be clear, measurable and be supported by multiple strategic initiatives across the organization.
While Warby Parker isn’t a public company and is not legally required to release annual financial statements, the organization does voluntary release an annual impact report. The report provides a window into the company’s strategic objectives with the inclusion of priority issues relevant to both stakeholders and the company. For the most recent 2019 report , the top issues cited are the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program, customer experience, innovation, product safety, and responsible sourcing.
For the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program, Warby Parker’s relevant objective might be aimed at growing the program, while the innovation priority may be tied to the objective of innovating to meet the strategic vision and mission. The issue of responsible sourcing could lead to an objective of using all recycled packaging or becoming carbon neutral. While the listed issues are presented through an impact lens, they also have a financial purpose.
4. Develop your strategy
Your strategy is a long-term plan that enables you to achieve your organization’s objectives..
An effective strategy brings together vision and execution. Strategies are much more specific than an organization’s vision, mission, and objectives. They are typically only shared within an organization and ideally built around an organization’s needs and market context. Strategies should map long-term plans to objectives and actionable steps, foster innovative thinking, as well as anticipate and mitigate potential pitfalls.
Strategic plans often look out 3-5 years, and there may be a separate plan for each individual objective within the organization. In the Warby Parker annual impact report, we have insight into the strategy for each of the objectives identified above. We’ll highlight potential strategies for two areas: the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program and innovation.
By the end of 2019 Warby Parker had distributed seven million pairs of glasses to 23 countries through the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair Program and will be likely focus on expanding those numbers in 2021 and beyond. According to the impact report, 2.5 billion people around the world lack access to affordable glasses to learn and work. In order to make a positive impact, Warby Parker needed to develop strategies to continue chipping away at that need, as well as meet company objectives, mission and vision. An example strategy for this program could be expanding the US-based Pupils Project, which gives school children access to free vision services and glasses. In the 2019-2020 school year, Warby Parker expanded the program from New York City and Baltimore to Philadelphia, providing vision services to an estimated 25,000 students in the School District of Philadelphia.
In addition, Warby Parker has traditionally been focused on eyewear and reimagining the customer experience for glasses wearers, so naturally the company’s leadership identified an innovation opportunity to add daily contact lenses in November 2019, which was likely the result of a multi-year strategic plan. Like Warby Parker’s eyeglasses process, the company allows a trial period for contact wearers, who can request 6 days of contacts in their prescription before committing to a full 90-day supply.
5. Outline your approach
An approach provides a methodology for executing your strategy..
The approach is a framework for answering key questions that will later determine tactics. Plus, it guides an organization on how to execute the strategic plan.
Within our Warby Parker example, each strategic plan included an approach that guided the leadership team in their analysis and plan execution. While we won’t cover each decision the company made in 2019, we’d like to focus on two big ones: the Pupils Project expansion and the launch of the contact lens brand Scout.
When it came to expanding the Pupils Project, the Warby Parker leadership team needed an approach for addressing each key decision for the program. There were likely more decisions than we can cover in one whitepaper, but will focus on two: whether to partner with existing non-profits or create its own program and how to make the greatest impact with the funds available.
Leading up to the decision points, like whether to expand the Pupils Program to Philadelphia, the leadership’s approach probably included a consideration of whether to develop the program infrastructure and manage it internally or partner with existing non-profits. The approach also likely included a cost-benefit analysis of that question, evaluating the financial ROI and social impact of each option. The company ultimately choose to work with two local Philadelphia nonprofits.
Another key decision requiring a strong approach within the Pupils Program was how to have the greatest impact with the funds available. The company needed an approach that would help them answer and inform key decisions. Those decisions could have included an analysis of whether to contribute the glasses directly or make a cash equivalent donation to the nonprofits, how to identify schools for the project (for example considering the greatest overall need or the number of glasses Warby Parker can provide), as well as who should manage the logistics of the screenings and eyeglasses deliveries.
On the innovation side, Warby Parker needed a quality approach to ensure the contact lens brand launch (called Scout) was aligned with the existing mission, vision, objectives and strategies. In order to create a contact lens that was high quality, affordable, and with lower waste packaging, the company needed a multi-pronged approach. Two crucial areas of planning for the Scout contact lenses were undoubtedly the design of the product and choosing the right manufacturer.
Because contact lenses were completely new to the company, Warby Parker needed to either design them in house or hire an outside design team that would meet the high standards the leadership outlined in the 2019 impact report , “On top of creating a great shopping experience for our customers, we have high expectations for what a daily contact lens should be—high quality, moist, breathable, comfortable, innovative, and affordable. It’s a lot to ask of one product, but we were relentless in our search for a contact lens that checked all of those boxes.”
While the company does not say in the report which route it chose for design, the leadership likely did a cost benefit analysis of designing it in-house vs. working with an outside design company or freelance designers. The key considerations were likely the cost to design, the strategic importance of certain attributes (like breathability, moisture content, shape), the cost to manufacture, and the sustainability considerations.
In terms of the approach to find the right manufacturer, Warby Parker needed to find a partner that met the company’s quality, cost, and environmental standards. The sustainability standards included finding packaging with significant less waste and incorporating recycled materials from the manufacturing process. The company’s approach to finding a manufacturer probably included research and a ranking of multiple companies with the above criteria in mind, then doing a comparison across the top choices and additional due diligence before choosing a partner.
Through these examples, you can see how an approach ladders up to strategies, outcomes and eventually the company’s mission.
6. Get down to tactics
Tactics are focused initiatives, projects, or programs that allow organizations to execute a strategic plan..
Tactics are the key to execution. They are the actions you take to make it all happen.
Within each decision Warby Parker made, the company used different tactics to move it from an idea to actual product or program. While each decision could have dozens of tactics, we’ve highlighted one or two examples for each.
For the Pupils Project at Warby Parker, the decision for how to have the largest impact possible required several tactics or initiatives to make that happen. The company choose to have the nonprofit partners run the screenings while Warby Parker provided the glasses and had the students choose their styles from 40 options in a truck show. One necessary tactic was bringing together the design and logistics teams to narrow down the style options that would be appealing to kids, cost effective, and easy to produce in large numbers.
Another important tactic was likely determining how to produce and deliver the glasses to the students, whether the glasses should deliver to their homes or the schools, and how to ensure the glasses fit correctly after they arrived. The Pupils Project’s overall goal is for children to have glasses to enable their ability to learn, and in order to do that, they need to actually use the glasses for the long-term, so it’s important to have styles that appeal to children, as well as well-fitting frames.
In terms of tactics for the Scout contact lens launch, once the company made the decision on a design team, the project leaders determined tactics to make the contacts idea a reality. The designers had specific research guidelines to find material and construction that fit the criteria of “high quality, moist, breathable, comfortable, innovative, and affordable.” The final product is made with a material that resists drying and constructed using new technology to increase eye comfort during wear.
The company design team also created flat pack packaging that is more hygienic, uses less raw materials, and takes up less space compared to traditional contact lens packaging. Even the placement of the contact (upside down) was intentional to reduce the chance of contamination from dirt or bacteria when the wearer puts them in their eye. Each of these items were likely framed as tactics and initiatives used to create the Scout lenses. Each was directly related to Warby Parker’s approach to the decision, the overall strategy, and aligned with the larger mission and vision.
On the surface, each tactic might not seem connected, but as you dig deeper, you’ll find that effective tactics should always tie back to the strategy, objectives, mission, and vision of the company.
This is the second in a 5-part blog series defining Spur Reply’s unique perspective on the often overlooked, but incredibly valuable world of business operations.
Part 1: Overall business operations
Part 2: this blog focuses on strategic planning, part 3: operations design, part 4: initiative execution, part 5: business intelligence.
5 steps of the strategic planning process
Lucid Content Team
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Strategic planning process steps
- Determine your strategic position.
- Prioritize your objectives.
- Develop a strategic plan.
- Execute and manage your plan.
- Review and revise the plan.
Because so many businesses lack in these regards, you can get ahead of the game by using strategic planning. In this article, we will explain what the strategic planning process looks like and the steps involved.
What is the strategic planning process?
In the simplest terms, the strategic planning process is the method that organizations use to develop plans to achieve overall, long-term goals.
This process differs from the project planning process, which is used to scope and assign tasks for individual projects, or strategy mapping , which helps you determine your mission, vision, and goals.
The strategic planning process is broad—it helps you create a roadmap for which strategic objectives you should put effort into achieving and which initiatives would be less helpful to the business.
Before you begin the strategic planning process, it is important to review some steps to set you and your organization up for success.
1. Determine your strategic position
This preparation phase sets the foundation for all work going forward. You need to know where you are to determine where you need to go and how you will get there.
Involve the right stakeholders from the start, considering both internal and external sources. Identify key strategic issues by talking with executives at your company, pulling in customer insights, and collecting industry and market data. This will give you a clear picture of your position in the market and customer insight.
It can also be helpful to review—or create if you don’t have them already—your company’s mission and vision statements to give yourself and your team a clear image of what success looks like for your business. In addition, review your company’s core values to remind yourself about how your company plans to achieve these objectives.
To get started, use industry and market data, including customer insights and current/future demands, to identify the issues that need to be addressed. Document your organization's internal strengths and weaknesses, along with external opportunities (ways your organization can grow in order to fill needs that the market does not currently fill) and threats (your competition).
As a framework for your initial analysis, use a SWOT diagram. With input from executives, customers, and external market data, you can quickly categorize your findings as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) to clarify your current position.
An alternative to a SWOT is PEST analysis. Standing for Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, and Technological, PEST is a strategic tool used to clarify threats and opportunities for your business.
As you synthesize this information, your unique strategic position in the market will become clear, and you can start solidifying a few key strategic objectives. Often, these objectives are set with a three- to five-year horizon in mind.
Use PEST analysis for additional help with strategic planning.
2. Prioritize your objectives
Once you have identified your current position in the market, it is time to determine objectives that will help you achieve your goals. Your objectives should align with your company mission and vision.
Prioritize your objectives by asking important questions such as:
- Which of these initiatives will have the greatest impact on achieving our company mission/vision and improving our position in the market?
- What types of impact are most important (e.g. customer acquisition vs. revenue)?
- How will the competition react?
- Which initiatives are most urgent?
- What will we need to do to accomplish our goals?
- How will we measure our progress and determine whether we achieved our goals?
Objectives should be distinct and measurable to help you reach your long-term strategic goals and initiatives outlined in step one. Potential objectives can be updating website content, improving email open rates, and generating new leads in the pipeline.
3. Develop a plan
Now it's time to create a strategic plan to reach your goals successfully. This step requires determining the tactics necessary to attain your objectives and designating a timeline and clearly communicating responsibilities.
Strategy mapping is an effective tool to visualize your entire plan. Working from the top-down, strategy maps make it simple to view business processes and identify gaps for improvement.
Truly strategic choices usually involve a trade-off in opportunity cost. For example, your company may decide not to put as much funding behind customer support, so that it can put more funding into creating an intuitive user experience.
Be prepared to use your values, mission statement, and established priorities to say “no” to initiatives that won’t enhance your long-term strategic position.
4. Execute and manage the plan
Once you have the plan, you’re ready to implement it. First, communicate the plan to the organization by sharing relevant documentation. Then, the actual work begins.
Turn your broader strategy into a concrete plan by mapping your processes. Use key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards to communicate team responsibilities clearly. This granular approach illustrates the completion process and ownership for each step of the way.
Set up regular reviews with individual contributors and their managers and determine check-in points to ensure you’re on track.
5. Review and revise the plan
The final stage of the plan—to review and revise—gives you an opportunity to reevaluate your priorities and course-correct based on past successes or failures.
On a quarterly basis, determine which KPIs your team has met and how you can continue to meet them, adapting your plan as necessary. On an annual basis, it’s important to reevaluate your priorities and strategic position to ensure that you stay on track for success in the long run.
Track your progress using balanced scorecards to comprehensively understand of your business's performance and execute strategic goals.
Over time you may find that your mission and vision need to change — an annual evaluation is a good time to consider those changes, prepare a new plan, and implement again.
Achieve your goals and monitor your progress with balanced scorecards.
Master the strategic planning process steps
As you continue to implement the strategic planning process, repeating each step regularly, you will start to make measurable progress toward achieving your company’s vision.
Instead of constantly putting out fires, reacting to the competition, or focusing on the latest hot-button initiative, you’ll be able to maintain a long-term perspective and make decisions that will keep you on the path to success for years to come.
Use a strategy map to turn your organization's mission and vision into actionable objectives.
Implement the strategic planning process to make measurable progress toward achieving your company’s vision and make decisions that will keep you on the path to success for years to come.
How to Use Kaizen Methodology to Improve Business Processes
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- What is strategic planning? 5 steps and ...
What is strategic planning? 5 steps and processes
A strategic plan helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. It includes your company’s vision and mission statements, goals, and the actions you’ll take to achieve those goals. In this article we describe how a strategic plan compares to other project and business tools, plus four steps to create a successful strategic plan for your company.
Strategic planning is when business leaders map out their vision for the organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. Strategic plans inform your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals. So if you work for a small company or startup, you could likely benefit from creating a strategic plan. When you have a clear sense of where your organization is going, you’re able to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact.
The strategic planning process doesn’t just help you identify where you need to go—during the process, you’ll also create a document you can share with employees and stakeholders so they stay informed. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to get started developing a strategic plan.
What is a strategic plan?
A strategic plan is a tool to define your organization’s goals and what actions you will take to achieve them. Typically, a strategic plan will include your company’s vision and mission statements, your long-term goals (as well as short-term, yearly objectives), and an action plan of the steps you’re going to take to move in the right direction.
Your strategic plan document should include:
Your company’s mission statement
Your company’s goals
A plan of action to achieve those goals
Your approach to achieving your goals
The tactics you’ll use to meet your goals
An effective strategic plan can give your organization clarity and focus. This level of clarity isn’t always a given—according to our research, only 16% of knowledge workers say their company is effective at setting and communicating company goals. By investing time into strategy formulation, you can build out a three- to five-year vision for the future of your company. This strategy will then inform your yearly and quarterly company goals.
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. Here’s how a strategic plan compares to other project management and business tools.
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, consider creating 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.
Key takeaway: A business plan works for new businesses or large organizational overhauls. Strategic plans are better for established businesses.
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.
As a result, you should already have your mission and vision statements drafted before you create a strategic plan. Ideally, this is something you created during the business planning phase or shortly after your company started. If you don’t have a mission or vision statement, take some time to create those now. A mission statement states your company’s purpose and it addresses what problem your organization is trying to solve. A vision statement states, in very broad strokes, how you’re going to get there.
A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose
A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose
A strategic plan should include your mission and vision statements, but it should also be more specific than that. Your mission and vision statements could, theoretically, remain the same throughout your company’s entire lifespan. 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.
Key takeaway: A strategic plan draws inspiration from your mission and vision statements.
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.
Key takeaway: Company objectives are broad, evergreen goals, while a strategic plan is a specific plan of action.
Strategic plan vs. 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.
Key takeaway: A business case tackles one initiative or investment, while a strategic plan maps out years of overall growth for your company.
Strategic plan vs. 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.
A project plan has seven parts:
Stakeholders and roles
Scope and budget
Milestones and deliverables
Timeline and schedule
Key takeaway: You may build project plans to map out parts of your strategic plan.
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. That being said, if your organization moves quickly, consider creating one every two to three years instead. Small businesses may need to create strategic plans more often, as their needs change.
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 are the 5 steps in strategic planning?
The strategic planning process should be run by a small team of key stakeholders who will be in charge of building your strategic plan.
Your group of strategic planners, sometimes called the management committee, should be a small team of five to 10 key stakeholders and decision-makers for the company. They won’t be the only people involved—but they will be the people driving the work.
Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the strategic planning process.
Step 1: Determine where you are
Before you can get started with strategy development and define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. 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 in the product, business practices, or company culture
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?
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?
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 goals and objectives
This is where the magic happens. To develop your strategy, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your original business documents—these are your final destination.
To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” This can help you figure out exactly which path you need to take.
During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents to ensure your strategic plan is moving your company in the right direction like:
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 plan
Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Your plan will take your position and strategy into account to define your organization-wide plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your strategic plan should be created as the quarters and years go on.
As you build your strategic plan, you should define:
Your 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 for that first year. 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.
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: Execute your plan
After all that buildup, it’s time to put your plan into action. New strategy execution involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success.
Map your processes with key performance indicators, which will gauge the success of your plan. KPIs will establish which parts of your plan you want achieved in what time frame.
A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch:
Align tasks with job descriptions to make sure people are equipped to get their jobs done
Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process
Fully commit to your plan
Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed
At this point, you should have created and implemented your new strategic framework. The final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.
Share your strategic plan —this isn’t a document to hide away. Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to it so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and your overall strategic plan. 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 tool .
Update your plan regularly (quarterly and annually). Make sure you’re using your strategic plan to inform your shorter-term goals. Your strategic plan also isn’t set in stone. You’ll likely need to update the plan if your company decides to change directions or make new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan to ensure you’re building your organization in the best direction possible for the next few years.
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.
The benefits of strategic planning
Strategic planning can help with goal-setting by allowing you to explain how your company will move towards your mission and vision statements in the next three to five years. 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:
Align everyone around a shared purpose
Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go
Define long-term goals, and then set shorter-term goals to support them
Assess your current situation and any opportunities—or threats
Help your business be more durable because you’re thinking long-term
Increase motivation and engagement
Sticking to the strategic plan
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.
With clear priorities, team members can focus on the initiatives that are making the biggest impact for the company—and they’ll likely be more engaged while doing so.
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Effective Strategic Planning: The 3 essential component
By Ron Price, HR.com , October 2016
Very few organizations large or small understand what it takes to create an effective strategic plan. Terminology is confusing, plan documents gather dust, and planning processes get bogged down without effective implementation. Too often, the result of strategic planning is detachment between the plan and day-to-day realities.
Many companies know they should, but simply don’t have a strategic plan. But like any other meaningful business initiative, strategic planning can make a huge difference in employee engagement and overall effectiveness.
First, it’s important to differentiate between strategy and tactics. Strategy is direction. It usually includes one or more “big picture” destinations desired by leadership. Tactics are the day-to-day operational tasks to achieve the big picture objectives. Strategy and tactics are often used synonymously, which represents one of the major problems in planning. Managers cannot think strategically and tactically at the same time. Every time that a strategic planning session dissolves into discussion of tactical issues, the strategic discussion is lost.
Effective strategic planning is a process that should be broken down into three separate, equally important components: strategic thinking, long-range planning, and operational planning.
This first component addresses the big picture questions of an organization, including:
Who are we?
Why are we in business?
What business are we in?
What business should we be in?
Who are our customers?
Who should our customers be?
What impact will external factors have on our business?
This thinking includes reflective analysis about an organization's mission, vision, values, and 10-20 year objectives. It includes a broad look at what makes an organization unique, including internal strengths and limitations, as well as external opportunities and threats. The focus here is on intuitively feeling the organization's future at a deeper, contemplative level.
This component focuses on studying the strategic issues of the organization using facts, figures, and research. It includes an in-depth understanding and analysis of the marketplace, competition, and metrics surrounding the organization's strengths, limitations, opportunities and threats. This step uses data to validate the conclusions reached during the initial intuitive thinking phase. Long range planning results in 5-7 major strategic objectives that will become the focus for the next several years.
Just as it is critical for the strategic thinking phase to be intuitive, it is critical for the long range planning phase to be analytical, rich in facts and figures, and detailed. Without both intuitive and analytical thinking, planning is incomplete and the results will show it.
The final phase of strategic planning is creating an operational plan with 12-18 monthly goals. These goals include specific action plans, timelines, assignments, and systems of accountability. The goals are the result of completing the ideological analyses in first two planning phases, gaining total commitment from management. You have probably heard of SMART goals, or Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The goals in your operational plan should be SMART, incorporating schedules to review and adjust the plan and measure its success. Once again, this is rarely connected effectively to strategic planning.
Most organizational leaders excel in only one of these three phases of strategic planning. As a result, there is a disconnect and loss of focus between the creation and execution of a plan. How do we change this pattern?
In order to properly implement the three phases of planning, you may want to consider some of these tactics:
It all starts at the top. The impact of the strategic planning process on an organization depends on the commitment from top management. While it’s appropriate for the CEO to assemble a team to create a plan, executing the strategy is ultimately the responsibility of the company’s top executive.
Hire a professional facilitator to guide the strategic planning process. This means more than just hiring someone to start a discussion at a resort one weekend. Bring in a consultant as a partner and "strategic conscience.” Since a facilitator does not carry day-to-day responsibilities, they are uniquely positioned to remind the organization of what matters most.
Set aside at least four review meetings a year, ranging from 1-3 days. Ideally, the meeting will review your strategic thinking during the first session, then work on long range planning, and finish with operational planning. It is critical to develop focus without squeezing strategic planning into a pre-determined time frame that exhausts everyone. Companies may also need monthly or bi-monthly meetings to keep the process moving.
In one way or another, engage everyone in the organization in creating and implementing the plan. Confidentiality is usually over-emphasized. While I don't advocate distributing the strategic plan for the whole world to see, most organizations don't use the plan to transform and direct an entire organization. The result is unrealized potential, limited commitment, and ineffective execution.
Keep improving the strategic planning process. Periodically, take a step back and review the purpose of strategic planning. Double-check that the plan is creating clarity about why the organization exists, what it stands for, how it brings unique value to the marketplace, its direction for upcoming years, competitors, and ideal customers.
Every organization has an almost infinite reservoir of possibilities in its people, markets, and infrastructure. Effective strategic planning defines this potential based on what makes the organization unique, in combination with the realities of the marketplace
A realistic, focused, well-executed strategic plan is still the most dynamic path to success. The chances are pretty good that your competitors still haven't learned how to do it right! So, what are you waiting for?
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6 Key Factors to Successful Strategic Planning
Many of our clients come to Blue Beyond asking for partnership with planning. Planning for a culture reboot. Planning to overhaul their recruitment and retention efforts. Planning to implement a new communication strategy. Planning to help them navigate a crisis. Planning a leadership offsite. But, one of our biggest requests centers around strategic planning and strategy development.
Many organizations have a systematic process for strategic planning but look back a year later and wonder “what happened?” According to research outlined in the Harvard Business Review , 85% of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, and 50% spend no time at all. The research also reveals that, on average, 95% of a company’s employees don’t understand its strategy.
It turns out that a lot of people aren’t entirely clear what a strategy or strategic plan is. They confuse it with organizational goals, objectives, and motivational slogans and oftentimes end up creating an operational (the “when” and “where”) or business plan (“who” and “what”) instead of a strategic one. “We’re going to be the best” is a great rallying cry but it’s not a strategy.
The strategic plan gives you long-term goals and explains “how” your organization will gain a competitive advantage and be the best in your industry. It’s a long-term view. It provides a basis for monitoring progress, and for assessing results and impact. It facilitates new program development and enables your organization to look into the future in an orderly and systematic way. And, most importantly, it’s about grounding your organization in its mission, vision, and values.
With continued global volatility and inflationary pressures building in the marketplace, your organization’s strategic plan should be taking center stage as you move to mitigate potential impacts. Here are our strategic planning best practices to get you started.
Strategic Planning Best Practices
1. Gather your team, set up meetings, and create a timeline.
Before you say “thank you Captain Obvious” hear us out. The first step of the strategic planning process is often the hardest. The fear of too many cooks in the kitchen is understandable; however, collaboration is at the center of a successful strategic planning process. Creating a strategic plan in a silo is a huge mistake. For a strategy to be successful, you need the right mix of people and it must be cross functional. This can include your board or leadership, finance, HR, operations, sales, marketing, etc.
It’s important to examine any potential biases that may impact the selection of your collaborators. A great question to challenge your unconscious biases is to ask yourself “who does this decision impact?” Answering that question helps you invite the right people to the table who can provide real insight into how you’re going to move forward. The more inclusive and collaborative your process, the more support you’ll have across a diverse set of stakeholders. It also helps ensure that your strategic plan accurately reflects your organization’s vision for the future.
Nobody needs another meeting on their calendar so schedule your check-ins and working sessions strategically based on what you’re needing to accomplish. Not everybody needs to be at all your meetings. Consider a stakeholder analysis and mapping session to ensure that you have the right representation of voices to move forward on your initiatives.
Next, create a reasonable timeline. If you’ve never done this work before, it could take up to six months. A refresh could take anywhere between four and five weeks. Because strategic planning focuses on the destination and how you’re going to get there, be prepared to spend extra time thinking about who you are and where you want to go as an organization.
2. Operate Off Data, Not Assumptions
Everyone makes assumptions and has preconceived notions about their organization. However, starting the planning process without gathering data will set you up to fail . Without data, it’s easy to create your own reality. Data keeps you honest and increases efficiency. Interpreting data can be uncomfortable – it’s hard not to feel like you’ve failed when the feedback and numbers are telling you that something went (or is) very wrong. But gathering and disseminating data isn’t just about your weak spots. It also allows you to wash, rinse, and repeat the areas of strength across your organization.
When gathering data, you’ll need to focus on two aspects: internal and external.
- Internal – Is one part of your business growing faster than others? What departments have high-rates of turnover? What managers have unhappy or unengaged employees? Who is performing and where are the gaps? Who and what are overachieving and how?
- External – Assess the business landscape and what outside factors are playing a role in where your organization is headed. Right now, you may be looking long-term at inflationary pressures and talks of a possible recession. Trade and supply chain issues may also be impactful.
After collecting the data, it’s time to gather more data in the form of feedback. Talk to people. Host focus groups. Review the data you’ve gathered with leadership, industry experts, and your employees. If you don’t understand the why of the feedback, ASK . Take the pulse of your internal workforce. Using current data about existing policies and structures ensures you’re solving current problems.
3. Confirm Your Mission, Vision, and Values Statements
There’s no better time to create or reaffirm your mission, vision, and values than during the strategic planning process. Mission, vision, and values form the foundation on which you’ll build the strategic framework. They direct and guide the purpose, principles, and values that govern the activities of the organization and communicate this purpose of your organization internally and externally.
1. Mission statement
What your organization does and how it’s different from competitors.
2. Vision Statement
What your organization will look like in the future and what you want it to achieve in the long-run.
3. Values statement
What your organization’s top priorities and core beliefs are.
How your organization strives to achieve its goals and measure success.
By identifying and understanding how mission, vision, and values interact with one another, your organization can create a well-designed and successful strategic plan that gives you a competitive advantage.
4. Prioritize Transparency
Transparency, more than anything, builds trust. If your stakeholders are going to buy into the plan, they need to trust you and trust the process. They also need to see how their ideas and inputs are being captured and shared through regular, transparent updates and communications. Don’t try to hide negative information and don’t make excuses for why something didn’t work.
It’s also critically important to acknowledge that you and your leadership teams may not have the tools, capabilities, or knowledge to understand the “how” of a particular move-forward strategy. Acknowledge it and ask for help. And when you do ask for help, listen.
5. Think Past The Strategic Plan
Strategy execution is just as important as planning. This includes having a clear understanding of your capacity and the resources at your disposal, as well as determining the few priorities that will best help your organization achieve its goals.
Define your KPIs, keeping them simple and easy to measure. Try and look beyond revenue and money and don’t move the goalposts or ignore them. If you’re not hitting your targets, this could be a sign that your strategy has a broken link. Gather your internal champions for an immersive working session to father feedback and ensure that they understand and can articulate the vision. Setup training and have everyone, including your senior leadership team, take it.
GET YOUR EMPLOYEES INVOLVED. Sorry to yell but this is absolutely critical. Many organizations forget the human element in change and that different people have different ways of reacting to, and dealing with, a new direction. Successful change management is crucial to gaining buy-in. As we noted above, less than 5% of employees understand their company’s strategy. Is it any wonder employees have difficulty engaging in a strategy they don’t understand?
6. Commit To Action — Especially Leadership
Change is difficult for everyone. It’s especially difficult for organizations that have been doing things the same way for a long time. Even more so if those ways were successful. But, changing demographics, social upheaval, and technological advances often necessitate major changes for an organization to remain relevant and competitive.
To ensure your strategic plan’s success, be willing to commit to letting go of outdated processes, policies, toxic cultures, and managerial styles. Then do it. Because change without action are just words on a piece of paper.
The last thing you want after completing a strategic plan is to have a document that sits on the shelf and gathers dust. Strategy is an iterative process and it will need to be rethought as your business and industry changes.
From Strategy to Reality
Creating and updating a strategic plan is essential for mission-driven organizations to stay strong, relevant, and effective, especially in today’s complex and ever-changing economic and political climate. Whether you’re establishing your vision and setting goals for the first time, or in need of a refresh, it’s always a wise idea to pause and consider where you want to be in the future, and how you need to get there.
Whether you’re in the midst of developing your strategic plan or you’re already communicating your strategy to the entire organization, Blue Beyond can help you translate your strategy into a successful, executable framework.
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The strategic planning process in 4 steps, to assist you throughout your planning process, we have created a how-to guide on the basics of strategic planning which will take you through the planning process step-by-step..
Free Strategic Planning Guide
What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic Planning is 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.
Overview of the complete strategic planning process:
Getting started: strategic planning introduction.
The strategic management process is about getting from Point A to Point B more effectively, efficiently, and enjoying the journey and learning from it. Part of that journey is the strategy and part of it is execution. Having a good strategy dictates “how” you travel the road you have selected and effective execution makes sure you are checking in along the way. On average, this process can take between three and four months. However no one organization is alike and you may decide to fast track your process or slow it down. Move at a pace that works best for you and your team and leverage this as a resource. For more of a deep dive look into each part of the planning phase, you will see a link to the detailed How-To Guide at the top of each phase.
1-2 weeks (1 hr meeting with Owner/CEO, Strategy Director and Facilitator (if necessary) to discuss information collected and direction for continued planning.)
Questions to Ask:
- Who is on your Planning Team?
- 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 embarking on this initiative?
- Planning team members are informed of their roles and responsibilities.
- Planning schedule is established.
- Existing planning information and secondary data collected.
Step 1: Determine Organizational Readiness
Set up your planning process 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 implementation (Chief Strategy Officer or Strategy Director) and then you need some of the key individuals and decision makers for this team. It should be a small group of approximately 12-15 persons.
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
Collect the following information on your organization:
- The last strategic plan, even if it is not current
- Mission statement, vision statement, values statement
- 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?
Strategic Planning Phase 1: Determine Your Strategic Position
Want More? Deep Dive Into the “ Evaluate Your Strategic Position ” How-To Guide.
Step 1: identify strategic issues.
Strategic issues are critical unknowns that are driving you to embark on a strategic planning process now. These issues can be problems, opportunities, market shifts or anything else that is keeping you awake at night and begging for a solution or decision.
- 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 also referred to as a PEST analysis, which is an acronym for Political, Economic, Social and Technological trends. Sometimes it is helpful to also 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 have an understanding of 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.
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 that may prevent a company from reaching its objectives.
What do you need to mitigate?
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
Customer segmentation defines the different groups of people or organizations a company aims to reach or serve.
Who are we providing value to?
- 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
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. By creating a SWOT analysis, you can 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
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 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.
How will we behave?
- What are the key non-negotiables that are critical to the success of the company?
- What are the guiding principles that 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.
A Vision Statement defines your desired future state and provides direction for 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.
A Competitive Advantage is a characteristic(s) of an organization that allows it to meet their customer’s need(s) better than their competition can.
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.
Your strategies are the general methods you intend to use to reach your vision. No matter what 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.
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 help you think about the options that 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? 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
Step 3: Setting Organization-Wide Goals and Measures
Once you have formulated your strategic objectives, you should translate them into goals and measures that can be clearly communicated to your planning team (team leaders and/or team members). You want to set goals that convert the strategic objectives into specific performance targets. Effective goals clearly state what, when, how, and who, and they are specifically measurable. They should address what you need to do in the short-term (think 1-3 years) to achieve your strategic objectives. Organization-wide goals are annual statements that are specific, measurable, attainable, responsible and time bound. These are outcome statements expressing a result expected in the organization.
What is most important right now to reach our long-term objectives?
Outcome: clear outcomes for the current year..
Step 4: Select KPIs
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.
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, begin by asking “What are the key performance measures we need to track in order to monitor if we are achieving our goals?” These KPIs include the key goals that you want to measure that will have the most impact in moving your organization forward.
Step 5: Cascade Your Strategies to Operations
Cascading action items and to-dos for each short-term goal is where the rubber meets the road – literally. Moving from big ideas to action happens when strategy is translated from the organizational level to the individual. Here we widen the circle of the people who are involved in the planning as functional area managers and individual contributors develop their short-term goals and actions to support the organizational direction. But before you take that action, determine if you are going to develop a set of plans that cascade directly from the strategic plan, or instead if you have existing operational, business or account plans that should be synced up with organizational goals. A pitfall is to develop multiple sets of goals and actions for directors and staff to manage. Fundamentally, at this point you have moved from planning the strategy to planning the operations; from strategic planning to annual planning. That said, the only way strategy gets executed is to align resources and actions from the bottom to the top to drive your vision.
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:
Phase 4: Executing Strategy and Managing Performance
Want More? Deep 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.
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.
Your Bi-Annual Checklist
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 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 goaFls, 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.
Restricting the meeting to reporting on measurements can help you stay on task and keep the meeting within 30 minutes, but if you can commit to a full hour, the meeting agenda should also include some time devoted to working on one specific topic or on one of the quarter’s priorities where decisions need to be made. Once agreed upon, this topic should be developed to conclusion. Holding meetings helps focus your goals on accomplishing top priorities and accelerating growth of the organization. Although the meeting structure is relatively simple, it does require a high degree of discipline.
Strategy Review Session Questions:
- What were our three most important strategic accomplishments of the last 90 days – how have we changed our field of play in the past 90 days?
- What are the three most important ways we fell short of our strategic potential?
- In the last 90 days, what are the three most important things that we have learned about our strategy? (NOTE: We are looking for insight to decision to action observations.)
Step 4: Annual Updates The three words strategic planning off-site provoke reactions anywhere from sheer exuberance to ducking for cover. In many organizations, retreats have a bad reputation because stepping into one of the many planning pitfalls is so easy. Holding effective meetings can be tough, and if you add a lot of brainpower mixed with personal agendas, you can have a recipe for disaster. That’s why so many strategic planning meetings are unsuccessful. Executing your strategic plan is as important, or even more important, than your strategy. Critical actions move a strategic plan from a document that sits on the shelf to actions that drive organizational growth. The sad reality is that the majority of organizations who have strategic plans fail to implement. Don’t be part of the majority! In fact, research has shown that 70% of organizations that have a formal execution process out-perform their peers. (Kaplan & Norton) Guiding your work in this stage of the planning process is a schedule for the next 12 months that spells out when the quarterly strategy reviews are, who is involved, what participants need to bring to the meetings and how you will adapt the plan based on the outcomes of the reviews. You remain in this phase of the strategic management process until you embark on the next formal planning sessions where you start back at the beginning. Remember that successful execution of your plan relies on appointing a strategy director, training your team to use OnStrategy (or any other planning tool), effectively driving accountability, and gaining organizational commitment to the process.
Strategic planning frequently asked questions
Read our frequently asked questions about strategic planning to learn how to build a great strategic plan..
Business Strategic Planning is a process where your business defines a bold vision of the future and creates a plan to reach that future. It helps your business define where you’re going, how you’ll get there, how you’ll grow, and what you must do to reach your desired future.
A great strategic plan determines where your organization is going, how you’ll win, what roles each team member has in the execution, and your game plan for reviewing and adapting your strategy. Elements include a current state analysis, SWOT, mission, vision, values, competitive advantages, growth strategy, growth enablers, a 3-year roadmap, and annual plan with goals, KPIs, and OKRs.
Typically, the average strategic planning process takes about 3-4 months, but depending on your organization, it could take more or less time. Every organization is different, so you should work at a pace that works for you.
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?
Determining your positioning entails conducting a scan of macro and micro trends in your environment and industry, identifying marketing and competitive opportunities and threats, clarifying target customers and value propositions, gathering and reviewing staff and partner feedback for strengths and weaknesses, synthesizing the data into a SWOT, and solidifying your competitive advantages.
Developing your strategy includes determining your primary business model and organizational purpose, identifying your corporate values, creating an image of what success would look like in 3-5 years, solidifying your competitive advantages, formulating organization wide-strategies that explain your base, and agreeing on strategic issues you need to address in the planning process. .
Once you get to the strategic plan development process in the planning process, you must begin developing your strategic framework and defining long-term strategic objectives, set short-term SMART organizational goals, and select the measure that will be your KPIs (key performance indicators.)
The last phase of strategic planning is implementation, execution, and ongoing refreshes. This step entails establishing an implementation schedule, rolling out your plan, executing against your key results, and reviewing process and refreshing your plan quarterly. p>
The ideal execution schedule for your strategic plan will differ from team to team or organization to organization, but generally, you should try to set 4 quarterly reviews, a mid-year executive survey, 12 monthly check-ins, and a year-end plan review and annual refresh.
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