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How to Demonstrate Your Strategic Thinking Skills

  • Nina A. Bowman

strategic planning reflection questions

Don’t be shy about bringing your ideas to the table.

Developing your strategic thinking skills isn’t enough to get you promoted. In order to advance in your career, you need to demonstrate them. Leaders want to know what you think, and they view your worthiness for promotion through the lens of how ready you are to make bigger decisions. Ask yourself: “Do people know where I stand?” If not, what do you need to do to bring your perspective to the table? It’s also important to demonstrate that you can put new ideas into action. Take the initiative on new projects that show how your understanding extends beyond your current function.

We all know that developing strategic thinking skills is important , but many don’t realize how critical it is to your career advancement to show these skills to your boss and other senior leaders. Showing strategic thinking skills tells your bosses that you’re able to think for yourself and make decisions that position the organization for the future. It assures them that you aren’t making decisions in a vacuum but are considering how other departments might be affected or how the outside world will respond.

When I’m helping my coaching clients learn to think more strategically, I emphasize that developing and demonstrating these skills are very different challenges .

  • Developing great strategic thinking skills requires you to gain exposure to strategic roles, synthesize broad information, participate in a culture of curiosity, and gather experiences that allow you to identify patterns and connect the dots in novel ways. That’s why high-potential and leadership development programs often include job rotations, cross-functional projects, and face time with senior leadership — these all accelerate the development of strategic thinking.
  • Demonstrating strategic thinking, on the other hand, requires that you are simultaneously a marketer, a salesperson, and a change agent. Proactive and widespread communication of your strategic efforts combined with the courage to challenge others and initiate and drive your strategic ideas are what make your boss and peers take notice.

The case of one of my coaching clients illustrates the steps you need to take to show off your strategic thinking skills. Tim Waters (not his real name), vice president of the U.S. supply chain for a growing medical products company, hoped to be named global senior vice president of supply chain but sensed that his promotion discussions were stalled. Tim had a good reputation for responding to business unit leads, and he worked tirelessly and effectively to keep the supply chain functioning well. He was therefore surprised to receive informal feedback from the head of HR, a longtime colleague and friend, who said that a few influential executives had voiced concern that Tim “wasn’t strategic enough.” These executives felt Tim was good at keeping the trains running, but he had not driven proactive change in the organization or set a strategic vision for supply chain. Tim was a strong strategic thinker, but he wasn’t doing it in a way his bosses could see it. He decided to engage an executive coach to help him learn how to demonstrate these skills.

Bring a point of view to the table

Your leaders want to know what you think, and they view your worthiness for promotion through the lens of how ready you are to make bigger decisions. By asking yourself, “Do people know where I stand?” you can sharpen your ability to demonstrate this skill.

Tim made efforts to update his understanding of trends and to refresh his network but realized that he wasn’t putting the knowledge learned to good use. One of the first changes he made was to instruct his assistant to block out 30 minutes on his calendar before important meetings. He knew that barely having time to collect his thoughts before going into meetings made him unprepared, less vocal, and less capable of synthesizing and sharing his knowledge. Just a half hour, once or twice a week, would allow him to shape his point of view on important issues.

Tim’s efforts began to pay off over time, and he was able to shift his contributions in senior executive meetings from operational input to strategic input. He took time to package his ideas into a vision for the organization and engaged his peers in new discussions about how the vision could impact their areas.

Having greater clarity of vision also enhanced Tim’s effectiveness as a supervisor. Tim was able to see how his team was missing the specific skills needed to support the vision. Now, instead of having reactive discussions with his HR business partner, he was able to engage in forward-looking discussions about strategic hiring and leadership development opportunities for his team. Demonstrating that you think strategically about hiring and talent development is a surefire way to make your leaders notice you.

Show that you can initiate innovation and bring strategic change

To be viewed as a strategic thinker, you must also demonstrate that you can use your knowledge to put new ideas into action. No matter your level, you can demonstrate strategic thinking by executing an innovative project that shows that your understanding extends beyond your current function.

Tim channeled the new energy and vision he had gained into a strategic planning process that culminated in formal recommendations for the supply chain group. Tim communicated the project and its milestones across the organization, allowing the executive team to see that he could lead a strategic initiative; previously, Tim would have kept it behind the scenes. Boldly suggesting value-added changes was a welcome shift to both Tim and his colleagues. Tim felt he had greater control, projecting greater confidence because he was no longer just reacting to others’ suggestions and issues, and Tim’s colleagues also appreciated that he was initiating improvements without their prodding.

Tim’s journey to demonstrating strategic thinking took him longer than he had expected, but over time, his boss, peers, and team noticed the changes and viewed them positively. Tim was promoted to the global role a year later and was ultimately better equipped to navigate the role.

Adapted from the  HBR Guide to Thinking Strategically by Nina Bowman.

strategic planning reflection questions

  • NB Nina A. Bowman is a Managing Partner at Paravis Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. Previously, she held various advisory and leadership roles in strategy. She is an executive coach and speaker on issues of strategic leadership, leadership presence, and interpersonal effectiveness. She is also a contributing author to the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees and HBR Guide to Thinking Strategically .

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20 Innovative Strategic Planning Questions to Prepare for Next Year

Marketing , Strategy , Analysis , Events , Tools , Implementation , Performance , Strategic Planning , Strategic Thinking , Communication , Innovation

If you have not started already, it is a great time to ask yourself and your organization innovative strategic planning questions to identify your best opportunities and prepare for implementation next year. Maybe it is because the new year is approaching quickly that conference presenters the past week prompted twenty innovative strategic planning questions - either directly or by me turning a statement into a creative question to answer.

strategic planning reflection questions

Presenters offering these strategic planning questions included Fast Company co-founder, Bill Taylor at the FastKC luncheon and several presenters at the marcus evans B2B Summit in Colorado Springs, including authors Mitch Joel , Joe Pulizzi , and business leaders Atul Vohra (Solera Holdings, Inc.), Michael P. Guillory (Texas Instruments), and Curt Porritt (Master Control Inc.) I spoke on  Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation at the marcus evans B2B Summit .

As you get ready for implementation next year, make sure you are considering these innovative strategic planning questions to boost next year's results!

Strategy & Purpose Questions

  • In this age of disruption for businesses and markets , what do we stand for and strongly advocate as an organization that makes us special? (Bill Taylor)
  • Are we asking enough "why" questions, since they tie to our business plan? If we are not asking enough of them, why is that? (Mitch Joel)
  • What are we the "most of" in our field ? (Bill Taylor)
  • Don't ask, "What keeps us up at night?" Ask, "What gets us up in the morning?" (Bill Taylor)

Strategic Marketing Questions

  • What are we doing to reboot our marketing for the new realities of customers buying in dramatically different ways? (Mitch Joel)
  • What are our plans to introduce more sense-based cues into our product or service? (Bill Taylor - Umpqua Bank features local music in its branch offices )
  • How are we going to start our own media channels (by creating content) instead of renting them (through buying advertising)? (Joe Pulizzi)
  • Once we've created content, what are 10 ways we can re-imagine and package it in new ways? (Joe Pulizzi)
  • Are we putting lead forms and next steps options into all of the content our organization creates and shares? (Joe Pulizzi)
  • What metrics and strategic thinking exercises are we using to stay away from "marketing by what happened last" (i.e., you just had a good trade show so there's a push to do more of those)? (Curtis Porritt)

Customer and Market Questions

  • What are we trying to do for our customers? (Atul Vohra)
  • When it comes to customers, how is our organization shifting from a "how many" to "who" focus? (Mitch Joel)
  • How will the growing BRIC and BOP markets fit in our market plans the next 3 years? (Atul Vohra)
  • If someone doesn't interpret what we wrote as expected, what's to say they're wrong? What can we learn from the misinterpretation? (Interactive Session comment)

Learning Organization Questions

  • What are our plans for learning as fast as the world is changing? (Bill Taylor)
  • What steps do we take to immerse new (and existing) employees in the lives and challenges customers face? (Bill Taylor - USAA puts immerse new employees in a military-like experience since that's its sole market )

Marketing Metrics Questions

  • How many meaningless numbers are part of our marketing metrics? (Michael Guillory)
  • How many people are searching for our brand name or URL - spelled correctly? (Curtis Porritt)
  • If we're using in-person events in our marketing plans, who were the new people and companies we met this year, and how are we turning them into customers? (Michael Guillory)

Number 20 - My New Favorite Strategic Planning Question

  • To identify potential value for a client in a B2B market, ask clients, "What do you never want to do again?" Then provide the means for them to never have to do what they don't want to do again. (Unnamed B2B Summit participant)

Are You Ready for What's Ahead?

If you'd like assistance in getting your annual planning for next year done faster than ever, call us at 816-509-5320 or email [email protected] . Our Brainzooming name means what it says: we'll stretch your brains to consider new opportunities and quickly zoom them into a plan that's ready for next year when next year starts! We'd love to help you hit next year zooming!   –  Mike Brown

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Date published: 11/15/11

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strategic planning reflection questions

  40 Strategic Questions to Ask

Asking intelligent questions of employees or customers and analyzing their responses is critical for executives who are responsible for making decisions and setting corporate strategy. Ask the wrong questions of the wrong people, and you will not receive the necessary organizational intelligence needed to drive optimal outcomes. Worse yet, you might waste valuable time and resources in the process. Instead, find the right strategic questions to ask.

At 9Lenses, we are experts at helping leaders ask the right strategic questions and analyze the feedback to: determine the success of existing strategies, identify gaps in the strategy, and establish optimal strategic actions going forward. Consultants, Fortune 500 companies and SMBs alike have used our digital client engagement platform to automate this questioning process, asking thousands of questions to tens of thousands of stakeholders.

Below are 40 strategic questions to ask your employees or yourself from   our platform  that you can use that evaluate strategy comprehensively. These questions cover such areas as: General Strategy, Competition, Product, Pricing, Customers, Sales, etc. – just a small sample of the areas that our platform is capable of pulsing.

Strategic Questions to Ask

Assessing your current strategy.

1. Does your organization’s corporate responsibility strategy match the availability of your current resources?

This question addresses your strategy in terms of the funding, time, people, and information necessary to make the strategy work, determining its feasibility.

2. How often does your organization assess its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in order to understand the current business climate?

Measuring these aspects of the strategy will help to analyze the company’s current approach to strategic evaluation and reveal if it is necessary to analyze it more often.

3. How effectively does your organization form and make profitable use of partnerships?

Partnerships can be helpful assets to your company, but they must actively be sought out and well-utilized.

4. If you were in charge of strategic planning for your organization, what changes would you make?

Asking your employees for their own ideas can not only provide interesting suggestions for future initiatives, but also can reveal any discontent with current strategy. With the high importance of strategic planning, it is crucial to ensure your company is creating analytical, actionable plans.

5. How efficient is your organization from an operational standpoint?

Determining operational efficiency can assist in revealing the reasons behind the success (or lack thereof) of your current strategy. By discovering the operational inefficiencies inhibiting success, your company can identify key process improvements.

6. How well does your organization utilize its people as an asset to help it improve, stay competitive, and strategically meet goals? Are people used efficiently or is talent wasted due to lack of effective strategy?

A major problem in many companies is a lack of utilization of existing resources, including the use of people and their particular strengths. Employing an effective strategy can better reveal the particular assets of your employees that can then be engaged to better the company overall.

Assessing your Competition

7. How often does your organization analyze the competition in order to understand competitive advantages and disadvantages as well as identify areas for investment or needs for improvement?

Regular assessment of the competitive landscape is a crucial determinant of corporate strategy, and fine-tuning the frequency of this evaluation will help to reveal how your company’s doing in terms of competitor analysis.

8. How well does your organization strategically differentiate from the competition in terms of the capabilities of its product? How clear is your organization’s strategy for this?

This question helps to analyze and assess competition in a clear, specific way that will yield insight into the differentiation strategy.

Assessing the Future

9. How clear is your vision for what corporate responsibility should be like in your organization in the future? Is the direction that the organization wants to go in clear and understandable?

Clarity is an important part of strategic success, and this question can help determine the intelligibility of your strategy from the perspective of your employees.

10. Is our long-term view reflected in our short-term priorities? Are we pouring effort into initiatives today that have connections with where we expect ourselves and the market to be in the future?

Strategy without long-term perspective is useless, and clear, direct thinking about the future can help ensure the durability of your strategy.

11. Is your organization pursuing growth and new business/market development with as much passion as it does operational efficiency?

This question still addresses the importance of planning for the future, but also focuses on the sense of urgency for growth. Finding the balance between day-to-day operations and new developments is critical for your company’s future success.

12. How effective is your organization’s strategic vision?

A strategic vision involves a clear view of the desired future position of an organization within a market, giving your company a goal to plan around that, when implemented correctly, will produce results.

13. When developing and implementing strategy, does your organization effectively balance short and long-term priorities?

This question further addresses the balance between concentrating on daily operations and on future growth that must exist in your company.

14. How efficient and organized is your organization’s plan for how to improve and evolve the strategic objectives over time?

Just having a set plan for the future is not enough; it must be structured, logical, and well-communicated in order to help direct your company.

15. How do the potential negative consequences that could occur with the implementation of a new strategy compare to the potential positive outcomes?

If the results of these questions suggest that a new strategy is necessary, your company must ensure that this new plan will not cost your company more than it will benefit it. This return analysis helps to evaluate if the pros of new strategic implementations can outweigh the cons.


Assessing your connections.

16. How many established outlets does your organization have through the Internet (social media, websites, etc.)?

By assessing the Internet outlets of your company, you can discover insight into how well your business is utilizing available online resources.

17. How many established connections to other businesses does your organization have?

Connections with other businesses can be used to create new partnerships and go-to-market opportunities, and therefore determining how many connections already exist for your company can help assess current strategy.

18. How many established connections does your organization have with consistent and dependable customers?

Customer advocates can be a lucrative avenue for your company to sell products and thus generate revenue, so determining the extent to which your company capitalizes on these relationships can help assess the effectiveness of your distribution strategy as a whole.

Assessing your Outlets Overall

19. How effective is your organization’s delivery model?

Your company’s delivery model is the method for getting your offering to your customer, and a successful model is a key aspect of your go-to-market strategy.

20. How much potential benefit for the organization does the distribution strategy have?

It is crucial to determine the positive outcomes that the current distribution strategy permits in order to analyze if your company is effectively utilizing its delivery outlets.

21. Considering all possible outcomes, how much risk does the distribution strategy have?

On the other hand, it is important to determine the risk in this strategy. Answering these questions separately then comparing the results can help to fully analyze both sides of the issue.

Product Offering

Assessing your market.

22. To what degree are your offerings clearly differentiated in their market?

This question is important to ask in order to analyze how your company is distinguishing its products from that of competitors and thus working to permeate the market as much as possible. This type of question is important to ask when assessing your competition (see also #8), as well as when analyzing your product itself.

23. How much ease and expense is required for your customer to switch to a competitor’s offering?

It is important to understand product stickiness and customer switching costs to determine how your customer values your product.

24. How often does your organization analyze the competition in order to understand competitive advantages and disadvantages as well as identify areas for investment or needs for improvement?

This question can reveal whether or not your company is evaluating your competition often and in a thorough manner.

25. Based on your knowledge of current efforts to promote your services, what are the major internal barriers to selling your services to clients?

By determining impediments to selling services, your company can find ways to avoid these hindrances and strategise better as a whole.

26. How well does your organization maximize existing resources in order to deliver the product offering?

This question evaluates the method for getting your offering to your customer in order to reveal certain resources that your company could be better utilizing.

27. How aligned are your organization’s offerings to meet market demand?

Not only do you want to be producing the offerings that leverage your organization’s resources, but you also want to be delivering the right products for your target market.

Assessing the Value to your Customers

28. Does your product offering encourage innovation for the customer through versatility, usability, and efficiency?

The more innovative your company’s offerings are, the more valuable they can be to your customers, for innovation is key in any product.

29. How well do the organization’s products solve the customers’ problems and meet their expectations?

Evaluate how your product meets the expectations of your customers in order to ensure the value in your offerings.

30. How frequently does your organization deliver new value-adding ideas to your customers to keep them engaged?

This question addresses how fresh your company is staying with your product and your customers, which is crucial in terms of retaining them as clients.

31. What is the direction and state of our innovations? Is the direction right for now, 5 years from now, and 10 years in the future?

A great tactic to use when analyzing the strategy of your company is to envision your product years from now and determine if your product roadmap is truly innovative.

32. Does your organization have several strategies for differentiation, innovation, customer alignment, and a detailed plan of forecasted strategies?

This multifaceted question assesses how well your company is planning for the future in terms of your offerings.

Pricing & Promotion

Assessing your pricing.

33. Considering factors such as competition and timing of discounts, does your organization provide the right amount of discounts and at the right price?

Discounting, when executed correctly, can be a great tactic to utilize, and this question addresses how well your company is using this strategy.

34. Does your organization’s pricing strategy match with the availability of your current resources?

This question addresses prime optimization, which is how well your organization prices its work in comparison to other organizations without forfeiting profit.

Assessing your Promotions

35. Does your organization promote itself through its people? Do the people actively promote your organization?

One of the greatest resources that many companies fail to use is their own people. Employees of an organization can be a company’s best proponents if they are actively and enthusiastically promoting the organization.

36. How effective is your organization at using product placement to subtly appeal to the customer?

Product placement deals with strategically implementing your offerings in context without advertisements, and can be a useful promotion strategy when employed correctly.

37. How often are your organization’s web strategies updated in order align with current organization news and capabilities?

Web strategy must be updated frequently in order to be useful to your company, and this question addresses the regularity of these revisions.

38. Is your organization’s website professional, visually pleasing, and effective at generating customer revisits?

Analyze your website design in order to determine if your company is fully optimizing its web presence.

Assessing your Sales

39. How effective is your organization at ensuring loyalty of current customers by extending various incentives for loyalty to your offerings?

Loyalty marketing is a promotional tool that can help your strategic advancements, as long as the incentives are right for your market, customers, and product.

40. How often does your organization convert leads for potential sales into actual sales in the long run?

This question, though basic, must be asked in order to reveal any problems in your current sales strategy that could be modified in order to better your company’s sales overall.

We hope you find our list of strategic questions to ask your employees or yourself valuable and beneficial to your company. These questions represent a small sample of our diagnostic library that we draw upon when running 9Lenses diagnostics for our clients. Because each question tends to elicit an in-depth response, we tend to ask fewer questions per assessment so as not to overwhelm participants. Beyond asking the right questions, it’s important to involve the right set of stakeholders, to analyze the responses for new insights, and measure any changes in performance over time – all of which is possible with our platform.

strategic planning reflection questions

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  • Contributors

Five Essential Strategy Questions Boards Should Be Asking

strategic planning reflection questions

Stephen Klemash is EY Americas Center for Board Matters Leader, Gaurav Malhotra is EY Americas Reshaping Results & US Restructuring Leader, and Lance Mortlock is EY Canada Managing Partner for Energy. This post is based on their EY memorandum.

  • Management and the board should define “long-term” and develop a strategy that is focused not on where the organization “is going” but where it “can go.”
  • It is essential for an organization’s talent strategy and ESG priorities to be aligned and integrated with the overall strategy.
  • Boards can help recalibrate the risk framework to focus on a longer-term horizon and reframe the discussion from risk to opportunity.

C-suites have adapted to the tumultuous environment created by the global pandemic, and only a few could have predicted the rebound occurring in specific geographies and sectors so quickly.

While the rapid pace of economic expansion has been a welcome opportunity for certain businesses, the long-term robustness of the recovery could be challenged by uneven events in specific geographies, the unwinding of government support programs, the scarceness of labor, the rise of inflation or the resurgence of COVID-19 variants.

As organizations continue their strategy refresh discussions, the following five questions should be top of mind for board members and management teams to make sure that their strategy adequately focuses on the future while recognizing the past and present stakeholder concerns.

1. How does the organization’s strategy put talent and culture at the forefront?

In a survey of 378 US public company board members conducted before the global pandemic by Corporate Board Member and the EY Center for Board Matters, 78% of respondents indicated that their board spends more time on talent strategy than just five years ago. The global pandemic has intensified this focus on human capital and accelerated both workforce and digital transformation, including a sudden shift to mass remote working. Boards and management should consider what changes to the operating model, working methods and culture are temporary, permanent or hybrid.

A shift in strategy may require management to redefine culture to incorporate new behaviors required to drive strategy for the long term. Developing and overseeing a culture and human capital strategy aligned with the overall corporate strategy is essential. Furthermore, the strategy must leverage digitalization, virtual work and automation gained during the global pandemic while confirming the right balance in the workforce portfolio (e.g., traditional, virtual, contingent, digitally enabled) to attract and retain key talent.

2. Does the strategy identify and redefine key risks as potential opportunities for innovation and expansion?

Based on the results of a recent EY survey of more than 500 global board members, risk management today lacks a focus on emerging and atypical risks. The survey also highlighted the criticality of considering a longer time horizon (ideally more than five years) when assessing strategy and risk — particularly when setting the organization’s business strategy, assessing the likelihood and impact of potential trends or disruptors and scenario planning. Eighty-four percent of boards do not believe their organizations have a highly effective risk management strategy and 55% of board members identified that risk management often struggles to keep pace with changes in business strategy.

Boards and C-suites alike have an opportunity to recalibrate their risk framework to focus on a longer-term horizon and reframe the discussion from risk to opportunity. This could include opportunities related to innovations around technology, changing consumer expectations, strategic transactions and evolving business models, all of which could impact how the company is doing business in five years and beyond. Consideration should also be given to the strategic ways technology and data can be used to improve the ability to identify and capture emerging opportunities and accelerate growth.

In one example , the management team of a leading chemicals business identified long-term sector risk for a core division. Facing impending consolidation in the industry and the risk of being left behind, the board and management team acted decisively through a series of transactions to turn risk into opportunity and maximize long‑term value. High performance organizations have an agile risk management framework that allows the organization to identify strategic opportunities and take measured risks related to longer-term innovation.

3. How does the strategy embrace the transition to a complete digital enterprise?

In a 2020 study of 570 C-Suite and senior business leaders, we found that organizations at the forefront of digital transformation were 45% more likely than laggards to unlock annual revenue growth of 10% or more. These organizations look at digital transformation as a cornerstone for the future of their business. They put the customer at the center, focusing on artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, innovation, talent development and strong governance to deliver on their journeys. Digital transformation is not without its pitfalls. Therefore, it is critical to be aware of value leakage and mitigate it proactively. Both Forbes and the Harvard Business Review have found that as much as 70% of digital transformation efforts fail to meet their goals, many failing due to a lack of focus.

As digital transformation transcends customer-facing digitization to more holistic enterprise-wide digital transformation, both the opportunity and the complexity of these efforts will increase. The concept of collective intelligence (e.g., bringing together the best of AI, machines, digital and human efforts) will fundamentally shift the future of work. Boards and management must balance this extension of human cognition with increasing uncertainty and complexity and the significant amount of data generated. Organizations should develop robust strategies that consider these concepts and their short and long‑term implications on their businesses.

4. How does the strategy accelerate the ESG ambition faster than the competition?

A recently convened roundtable of public company board members highlighted the need to focus on long-term societal impact, environmental sustainability and inclusive growth in the strategic agenda. Driven by, among other factors, the current climate emergency, a focus on social injustice and a realization that ESG priorities, including diversity, equity and inclusion, can be financially beneficial, investors are focused on companies’ ESG strategy and performance. Assets in sustainable funds continue to hit record-breaking heights and investor stewardship goals increasingly relate to business‑relevant environmental and social priorities.

To inform their investment decisions and stewardship, investors are looking for companies to provide standardized and rigorous nonfinancial data and any expectation gap between companies and investors could come at a significant price, including companies finding it harder to access capital. At the same time, pressure from other stakeholders to address ESG is also growing. Consumers want to understand the impact their choices are having on the world, employees want to understand whether their company is driving sustainable progress and regulators and governments around the world are also taking action.

In this business environment, making ESG a strategic imperative can help companies positively differentiate themselves from competitors, become more attractive to the key stakeholders on whom they rely and sustain lasting profitability as sustainability risks accelerate. To support its oversight of strategy, it is essential for boards to understand the key forces shaping tomorrow’s business environment, how ESG investing and stewardship trends are impacting access to capital and relationships with investors and the ESG factors that are material to the company’s business.

The strategy refresh agenda should include identifying and prioritizing the ESG issues that are most relevant to the business through a sustainability materiality assessment. Once identified, the board can help guide the design of those ESG priorities into an ESG strategy aligned and incorporated into the organization’s overall strategic plan. The board’s role also includes overseeing ESG goal setting and metrics, providing for transparent ESG governance structures, supporting the integration of ESG with ERM and overseeing how the company tells its ESG story.

5. How does the strategy incorporate shock absorbers that enable the organization to remain resilient?

Recently, a significant automobile and aerospace components manufacturer faced falling profitability and a significant drawback of its share price, driven by a combination of factors, including an oil price decline and several unforeseen economic and technical events. The executive team at this organization turned to scenario planning to identify, catalog and address events or pivot points that could impact their business through 2040.

Building strategies based on crucial pivot points help establish that organizations are ready for a mix of both internal and external shifts that may impact that end state. The most resilient strategic planning efforts are underpinned by implementing shock absorbers (e.g., internal systems, processes and policies that can limit impacts of unforeseen events) and a thorough effort to prioritize which scenarios to prepare for. Organizations often elicit input from external experts to provide an outside-in and in-depth view of those pivot points and potential shock absorbers. While it is unrealistic to plan for everything, finding the right balance of preparedness can help an organization navigate today’s increasingly uncertain times.

Boards should consider the role of advocates and questioners to help management focus on a strategic vision that drives long-term sustainable value. Boards should also challenge management to define “long-term” based on the circumstances of the organization and develop a strategic plan focused not on where the organization “is going” but where it “can go.” Finally, consider appropriate governance processes to enable timely review and implementation of the strategic plan and related organization shock absorbers across now, next and beyond.

Ensuring success in the strategy refresh process is about balancing the roles of the board and management, prioritizing issues and asking probing questions. In the face of continued global economic uncertainty, being future-ready will be the difference between those organizations that merely survive and those that thrive in a post-pandemic world.

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How to Set Strategic Planning Goals

Team setting strategic planning goals

  • 29 Oct 2020

In an ever-changing business world, it’s imperative to have strategic goals and a plan to guide organizational efforts. Yet, crafting strategic goals can be a daunting task. How do you decide which goals are vital to your company? Which ones are actionable and measurable? Which goals to prioritize?

To help you answer these questions, here’s a breakdown of what strategic planning is, what characterizes strategic goals, and how to select organizational goals to pursue.

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What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is the ongoing organizational process of using available knowledge to document a business's intended direction. This process is used to prioritize efforts, effectively allocate resources, align shareholders and employees, and ensure organizational goals are backed by data and sound reasoning.

Research in the Harvard Business Review cautions against getting locked into your strategic plan and forgetting that strategy involves inherent risk and discomfort. A good strategic plan evolves and shifts as opportunities and threats arise.

“Most people think of strategy as an event, but that’s not the way the world works,” says Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen in the online course Disruptive Strategy . “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’s at work 24/7 in almost every industry."

Related: 5 Tips for Formulating a Successful Strategy

Characteristics of Strategic Goals

To craft a strategic plan for your organization, you first need to determine the goals you’re trying to reach. Strategic goals are an organization’s measurable objectives that are indicative of its long-term vision. Here are four characteristics of strategic goals to keep in mind when setting them for your organization.

1. Purpose-Driven

The starting point for crafting strategic goals is asking yourself what your company’s purpose and values are . What are you striving for, and why is it important to set these objectives? Let the answers to these questions guide the development of your organization’s strategic goals.

“You don’t have to leave your values at the door when you come to work,” says HBS Professor Rebecca Henderson in the online course Sustainable Business Strategy .

Henderson, whose work focuses on reimagining capitalism for a just and sustainable world, also explains that leading with purpose can drive business performance.

“Adopting a purpose will not hurt your performance if you do it authentically and well,” Henderson says in a lecture streamed via Facebook Live . “If you’re able to link your purpose to the strategic vision of the company in a way that really gets people aligned and facing in the right direction, then you have the possibility of outperforming your competitors.”

Related: 5 Examples of Successful Sustainability Initiatives

2. Long-Term and Forward-Focused

While strategic goals are the long-term objectives of your organization, operational goals are the daily milestones that need to be reached to achieve them. When setting strategic goals, think of your company’s values and long-term vision, and ensure you’re not confusing strategic and operational goals.

For instance, your organization’s goal could be to create a new marketing strategy; however, this is an operational goal in service of a long-term vision. The strategic goal, in this case, could be breaking into a new market segment, to which the creation of a new marketing strategy would contribute.

Keep a forward-focused vision to ensure you’re setting challenging objectives that can have a lasting impact on your organization.

3. Actionable

Strong strategic goals are not only long-term and forward-focused—they’re actionable. If there aren’t operational goals that your team can complete to reach the strategic goal, your organization is better off spending time and resources elsewhere.

When formulating strategic goals, think about the operational goals that fall under them. Are they actionable steps your team can take to achieve your organization’s objective? If so, the goal could be a worthwhile endeavor for your business.

4. Measurable

When crafting strategic goals, it’s important to define how progress and success will be measured. For instance, the goal “become a household name” is valid but vague. Consider the intended timeframe to reach this goal and how you’ll operationally define “a household name.” The method of obtaining data must also be taken into account.

An appropriate revision to the original goal could be: “Increase brand recognition by 80 percent among surveyed Americans by 2030.” By setting a more specific goal, you can better equip your organization to reach it and ensure that employees and shareholders have a clear definition of success and how it will be measured.

Related: A Manager’s Guide to Successful Strategy Implementation

Prioritizing Strategic Goals

Once you’ve identified several strategic goals, determine which are worth pursuing. This can be a lengthy process, especially if other decision-makers have differing priorities and opinions.

To set the stage, ensure everyone is aware of the purpose behind each strategic goal. This calls back to Henderson’s point that employees’ alignment on purpose can set your organization up to outperform its competitors.

Calculate Anticipated ROI

Next, calculate the estimated return on investment (ROI) of the operational goals tied to each strategic objective. For example, if the strategic goal is “reach carbon-neutral status by 2030,” you need to break that down into actionable sub-tasks—such as “determine how much CO2 our company produces each year” and “craft a marketing and public relations strategy”—and calculate the expected cost and return for each.

The ROI formula is typically written as:

ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100

In project management, the formula uses slightly different terms:

ROI = [(Financial Value - Project Cost) / Project Cost] x 100

An estimate can be a valuable piece of information when deciding which goals to pursue. Although not all strategic goals need to yield a high return on investment, it’s in your best interest to calculate each objective's anticipated ROI so you can compare them.

Consider Current Events

Finally, when deciding which strategic goal to prioritize, the importance of the present moment can’t be overlooked. What’s happening in the world that could impact the timeliness of each goal?

For example, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the ever-intensifying climate change crisis have impacted many organizations’ strategic goals in 2020. Often, the goals that are timely and pressing are those that earn priority.

Which HBS Online Strategy Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Crafting Goals for the Future

As you set and prioritize strategic goals, remember that your strategy should always be evolving. As circumstances and challenges shift, so must your organizational strategy.

If you lead with purpose, a measurable and actionable vision, and an awareness of current events, you can set strategic goals worth striving for.

Do you want to learn more about strategic planning? Explore our online strategy courses and download our free flowchart to determine which is right for you and your goals.

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SOAR Analysis – A Tool For Strategic Planning

SOAR analysis is a strategic planning tool that can be used to help your organization create and execute its strategy.

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SOAR is an acronym standing for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. Strengths and opportunities focus on your present situation, whereas aspirations and results focus on your desired future situation. A SOAR analysis is a 2×2 matrix.


The top row on the matrix focuses on the present, and the bottom row focuses on your desired future. The left column focuses on internal factors, and the right column focuses on factors that are external to your organization.

You might ask, why are results external and not internal? After all, don’t we achieve our own results? The answer is that results are considered an external factor as they are not something you achieve on your own. For example, your customers must be happy, and they must refer others to buy from you.

This section aims to determine the strengths of your organization that you can leverage and build on to seize the opportunities you decide to pursue. This will take the form of a list and include your organization’s critical assets, resources, and know-how.

Some questions that can help you determine your strengths include:

  • Unique selling point (USP)
  • Most valuable know-how that is better than anyone else
  • Most valuable assets that are better than anyone else


This section of the SOAR analysis aims to identify the opportunities in the marketplace that you could pursue to become more successful. Some questions that can help you identify opportunities in the marketplace include:

  • What trends are happening in our market that we could leverage?
  • What trends are happening in the wider world that we could leverage?
  • Could any of the threats to our business be turned into an opportunity?
  • Are there any gaps in our existing market?
  • Are there any new markets we should enter?
  • Do our customers have unfulfilled wants that we could meet?


This section aims to identify your aspirations for the future. It’s essentially a vision built on the strengths and opportunities you’ve identified to both challenge and inspire your organization to achieve. Note that your aspirations are not the same as your organization’s overall vision.

Your aspirations will typically be nearer-term in nature. For example, your company vision might be to be the biggest global airline, but your next aspiration might be to become the biggest airline within the single country you currently operate in. Questions that can help you set your aspirations include:

  • What should our future organization look like?
  • What do we care genuinely about?
  • How can we make a difference?
  • What do we want to achieve?
  • What should our goals be as an organization?

This section aims to show how you will know that you have achieved your aspirations, and also outline how you intend to track progress towards your ambitions. Goals setting techniques, such as SMART goal setting and Outcome goal setting can be helpful here.

It is important not to set too many measures to track, instead measure the 3-5 values that are critical to business success. A balanced scorecard can be a useful tool in helping you track progress.

Some questions that can help you set your results include:

  • How will we know when we have achieved our aspirations?
  • What numbers/statistics can we use to measure our progress towards our aspirations?
  • Can we translate our aspiration into something measurable?
  • How and when will we track progress towards our aspirations?

SWOT Vs. SOAR Analysis

The key difference between a SWOT analysis and a SOAR analysis is that while a SWOT analysis scans your internal and external environment, it doesn’t help you figure out how to proceed. In contrast, a SOAR analysis helps you determine the results you want to achieve in the future.

Another difference is that a SOAR analysis doesn’t examine negatives, whereas a SWOT analysis will expressly look for threats and weaknesses. SOAR focuses on enhancing what is already being done well instead of addressing weak areas. Another way to say this is that a SOAR analysis focuses more on planting seeds than pulling weeds.

The main advantages of a SOAR analysis are:

  • It doesn’t just analyze your situation but helps you set goals and targets to achieve
  • It’s forward-looking and positive, unlike SWOT, which spends 50% of its time encouraging you to fix weaknesses and threats
  • SOAR analysis is better than SWOT analysis for startups because the organization is so new it doesn’t know its strengths, weaknesses, or threats yet
  • It is action-oriented


The main disadvantages of a SOAR analysis are:

  • Aspirations are somewhat redundant because you’ll already have this stated as your organization’s vision
  • Although it builds on your strengths, it doesn’t do an in-depth analysis of the marketplace or your customers. This could lead you to focus on the wrong thing

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About the author: mithun sridharan.

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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.

Strategic Planning Guide and Process

Phase Duration

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.

Action Grid:


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 Pyramid

Strategic Planning Phase 1: Determine Your Strategic Position

Want More? Deep Dive Into the “ Evaluate Your Strategic Position ” How-To Guide.

Action Grid

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

Strategy Map

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..

Strategic Planning Outcomes Table

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.

Strategic Planning Calendar

Step 2: Tracking Goals & Actions

Monthly strategy meetings don’t need to take a lot of time – 30 to 60 minutes should suffice. But it is important that key team members report on their progress toward the goals they are responsible for – including reporting on metrics in the scorecard they have been assigned. By using the measurements already established, it’s easy to make course corrections if necessary. You should also commit to reviewing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) during these regular meetings.

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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The Systems Thinker -

Strategic Questions: Engaging People’s Best Thinking

S top asking so many questions,” many children hear at home. “Don’t give me the question, give me the answer,” many students hear at school. “I’m not interested in hearing what you don’t know, I want to hear what you do know,” many employees hear at work. The injunction against discovering and asking questions is widespread in today’s family, educational, and corporate cultures. That’s unfortunate, because asking questions that matter is one of the primary ways that people have, starting in childhood, to engage their natural, self-organizing capacities for collaborative conversation, exploration, inquiry, and learning. In our own work with creating positive futures, we are discovering that the usefulness of our knowledge depends on the quality of the questions we ask. Clear, bold, and penetrating questions tend to open up the context for new learning and discovery, which is a key component of strategy innovation.

Strategic learning can occur, not only through formal planning activities, but also through webs of informal conversations and networks of relationships, both within an organization and among key stakeholders. Choosing to ask and explore “big questions” — questions that matter to the future of the organization — is a powerful force.

When people frame their strategic exploration as questions rather than as concerns or problems, a conversation begins where everyone can learn something new together, rather than having the normal stale debates. In effect, people begin looking at “the map of the territory” together. The questions encourage them to wonder “What is the map telling us?” rather than to push preconceived ideas of what they think it shows.

Why Don’t We Ask Better Questions?

If asking good questions is so critical, why don’t we spend more of our time and energy focused upon discovering and framing them? One reason may be that much of our Western culture is focused on knowing the “right answer” rather than discovering the “right question.” Our educational system focuses more on memorization and static answers rather than on the art of seeking new possibilities through dynamic questioning. We are rarely taught how to ask powerful questions. Nor are we often taught why we should ask compelling questions in the first place. Quizzes, examinations, and aptitude tests all reinforce the value of correct answers, usually with only one correct answer for each question asked. Is it any wonder that most of us are uncomfortable with not knowing?

Perhaps our aversion to asking creative questions stems from our emphasis on finding quick fixes and our attachment to black/white, either/or thinking. Often the rapid pace of our lives and work doesn’t provide us the opportunity to be in reflective conversations where creative questions and innovative solutions can be explored before reaching key decisions. This dilemma is further reinforced by organizational reward systems in which leaders feel they are paid for fixing problems rather than fostering breakthrough thinking. Between our deep attachment to the answer — any answer — and our anxiety about not knowing, we have inadvertently thwarted our collective capacity for deep creativity and fresh perspectives in the face of the unprecedented challenges we face, both in our own organizations and as a global human community.

The World’s Best Industrial Research Lab

One of the best corporate examples of how a “big question” — a truly strategic question — can galvanize collective conversation, engagement, and action occurred at Hewlett-Packard. The director of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories wondered why HP Labs was not considered the best industrial research lab in the world. As he thought about it, he realized that he did not know what being the “World’s Best Industrial Research Lab” (WBIRL) really meant.

One key staff member was charged with coordinating the effort

One key staff member was charged with coordinating the effort. Instead of looking for “answers” outside the company, she encouraged the director to share his “big question” with all lab employees around the world. Instead of organizing a senior executive retreat to create a vision and then roll it out, she encouraged organization-wide webs of inquiry and conversation, asking people what WBIRL meant to them, what it would mean personally for their own jobs, and what it might take to get there. She invited the entire organization to join in exploring the question through informal, ongoing conversations; and she took advantage of more formal internal survey and communication infrastructures. When the lab director acknowledged his “not knowing” — an uncommon stance for a senior executive — an open field was created for multiple constituencies and perspectives to be heard.

The conversation continued for several months. The WBIRL leader developed a creative “reader’s theater” piece which reflected 800 survey responses, detailing employee frustrations, dreams, insights, and hopes. Players spoke the key themes as “voices of the organization,” with senior management listening. That made a difference to everyone’s thinking by literally putting a variety of points of view on stage together. But it wasn’t the only venue in which the “big question” was explored. Senior management met in strategic sessions, using approaches such as interactive graphics and “storytelling about the future” to see new opportunities that crossed functional boundaries. In these strategic conversations, they considered core technologies that might be needed for multiple future scenarios at HP Labs to unfold.

People throughout the labs, meanwhile, were initiating projects at all levels, resulting in significant improvement in key areas of the lab’s work. Weekly Chalk Talks for engineers, “coffee talks,” an Administrative Assistant Forum, and a Community Forum created opportunities for ongoing dialogue, listening, and learning. A WBIRL Grants Program provided small stipends for innovative ideas, enabling people to act at the corporate grassroots level, taking personal responsibility for work they believed in. In all of these efforts, the leader of the WBIRL project spent most of her time “helping the parts see the whole” and linking people with complementary ideas. And yet, while productivity was improving rapidly, something was missing. During an informal conversation while planning for a “Celebration of Creativity” to acknowledge what had already been accomplished, one of the lab engineers spoke up. She wondered what was really different about HP that distinguished it from any other company that wanted to be the best in the world. She said, “What would get me out of bed in the morning would be to become the best for the world.” Suddenly a really “big question” had emerged. What would it mean for HP Labs to be the best both in and for the world? (See “What Makes a Powerful Question?”)

Stakeholders in any system already have within them the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges.

A senior engineer created an image of what “for the world” meant to him. It was a well-known picture of the founders of HP looking into the backyard garage where the company began. He added a beautiful photo of Earth placed inside. This picture became the symbol of “HP for the World.” A “town meeting” of 800 Palo Alto employees with live satellite hook-ups enabling a global conversation focused on the question, “What does ‘HP for the World’ mean to you?” The “HP For the World” image spread throughout the company — appearing in lobbies, featured in recruiting brochures, and offered as executive gifts. More than 50,000 posters were purchased by HP employees around the world, stimulating a growing network of conversations about the meaning of the big question for the future of the company.

In the course of this exploration, people rediscovered that the company founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, had always maintained a commitment, as Packard put it, that “the Hewlett-Packard company should be managed first and foremost to make a commitment to society.” Growing numbers of people throughout HP reconnected to that founding governing idea — stimulating investigations into breakthrough technologies for education, remote medical care for third-world nations, and global environmental issues.


A Powerful Question

  • Is simple and clear
  • Is thought-provoking
  • Generates energy
  • Focuses inquiry
  • Surfaces assumptions
  • Opens new possibilities

As part of this effort, the same senior engineer who had created the “for the world” poster image was persuaded to pursue a 25-year old dream: To create a mile-long educational diorama, placing human life in the context of evolutionary history. In 1997, this work — “A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us” — was featured at the annual State of the World Forum. There, the question of what it means to be for the world was posed to global leaders gathered from every continent. Public and private partnerships evolved from these conversations. Clearly, this is a powerful question that “travels well.”

Big Questions and Strategic Thinking

This approach to discovering and asking the “big questions” — strategic questions for which we truly do not have answers — is grounded in the assumption that stakeholders in any system already have within them the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges. Given the appropriate context and support, members of an organizational community can often sense where powerful strategic possibilities and opportunities for action may lie. Is it simply “luck” that enables us to stumble onto questions that really matter for strategic thinking? Or can we actually design processes that make it more likely for those questions to emerge? (See “How to Use Questions Effectively” on page 4.)

“Discovering strategic questions,” says one colleague, a senior executive at a major multinational corporation,


  • Well-crafted questions attract energy and focus our attention on what really counts. Open-ended questions — the kind that don’t have “yes” or “no” answers — are most effective.
  • Good questions need not imply immediate action steps or problem solving. Instead, they invite inquiry and discovery rather than advocacy and advantage
  • You’ll know you have a good question when it continues to surface new ideas and possibilities. Bounce possible questions off key people to see if they sustain interest and energy

“is like panning for gold. You have to care about finding it, you have to be curious, and you have to create an anticipation of discovering gold, even though none of us may know ahead of time where we’ll find it. You head toward the general territory where you think the gold may be located, with your best tools, your experience, and your instincts.”

To evoke strategic thinking based on discovering powerful questions, several activities may be useful. They

may not apply to all situations and they may not always follow the same sequence, but they suggest ways that formal and informal processes can evolve together to support individuals as well as teams in discovering “gold” for themselves.

Assessing the Landscape. Get a feel for the larger context in which you are operating. Scan the horizon, as well as the contours of the current business and organizational landscape, related to the system or project you are working with. Like trackers in the mountains, look for obvious and subtle indicators that point to storms as well as to sunny skies. Allow your curiosity and imagination to take the lead as you begin to identify the many questions that the business landscape reveals. It will be tough, but important, to frame your findings as questions, rather than as concerns or problems. To help in framing those questions, ask yourself: “How does A relate to C and what questions does that suggest? If X were at play here, what would we be asking? What is the real question underneath all this data?”

Discovering Core Questions. Once you think you’ve posed most of the relevant questions (and there may be many of them), look for patterns. This is not a mechanical process, even though it can be disciplined and systematic.


Here are some questions you might ask yourself as you begin to explore the art and architecture of powerful questions. They are based on pioneering work with questions being done at the Public Conversations Project, an organization that helps create constructive dialogue on divisive public issues.

  • Is this question relevant to the real life and real work of the people who will be exploring it?
  • Is this a genuine question — a question to which I/we really don’t know the answer?
  • What “work” do I want this question to do? That is, what kind of conversation, meanings, and feelings do I imagine this question will evoke in those who will be exploring it?
  • Is this question likely to invite fresh thinking/feeling? Is it familiar enough to be recognizable and relevant—and different enough to call forward a new response?
  • What assumptions or beliefs are embedded in the way this question is constructed?
  • Is this question likely to generate hope, imagination, engagement, creative action, and new possibilities, or is it likely to increase a focus on past problems and obstacles?
  • Does this question leave room for new and different questions to be raised as the initial question is explored?

You are on a treasure hunt, seeking the core questions — usually three to five — which, if answered, would make the most difference to the future of your work. Cluster the questions and consider the relationships that appear among them. Notice what “pops up” in order to discover the “big questions” that the initial clusters reveal.

Creating Images of Possibility. Imagine what your situation would look like or be like if these “big questions” were answered. Creating vivid images of possibility is different from pie-in-the-sky visioning, especially if people with a variety of perspectives have participated in the earlier stages of the conversation. This part of the conversation can also provide clues for evolving creative strategies in response to the “big questions.” It often reveals new territory and opportunities for action while remaining grounded in real life.

Evolving Workable Strategies. Workable strategies begin to emerge in response to compelling questions and to the images of possibility that these questions evoke. Of course, the cycle is never complete. Relevant business data, ongoing conversations with internal and external stakeholders, informal conversations among employees, and feedback from the environment enable you to continually assess the business landscape revealing new questions.

Many organizations are stuck in a “problem-solving orientation” when it comes to strategy. They can’t seem to shake the focus on fixing short-term problems or seeking immediate (but ineffective) solutions. Simply by moving their attention to a deliberate focus on essential questions, they can develop an inquiry-oriented approach to evolving organizational strategy (see “How Can I Frame Better Questions?”). In a knowledge economy, this approach provides an opportunity for developing the capability of strategic thinking in everyone, and for fostering sustainable business and social value.

How Can Leaders Use Powerful Questions?

In today’s turbulent times, engaging people’s best thinking about complex issues without easy answers represents one key to creating the futures we want. Leaders need to develop greater capacities for fostering “inquiring systems” in order to learn, adapt, and create new knowledge to meet emerging needs (see “Is Your Organization an Inquiring System?”).

The leadership challenges of the next 20 years are likely to revolve around the art of catalyzing networks of people rather than solely managing hierarchies as in the past. The ability to bring diverse perspectives to bear on key issues both inside and outside the organization and to work with multiple partners and alliances will be a critical skill for effective leaders. We believe the following core capabilities, rarely taught in today’s MBA or corporate leadership programs, will help define leadership excellence:

Engaging Strategic Questions. In a volatile and uncertain environment, one of the most credible stances leaders can take is to assist their organizations in discovering the right questions at the right time. A key leadership responsibility is creating infrastructures for dialogue and engagement that encourage others at all levels to develop insightful questions and to search for innovative paths forward. Leaders also need to consider reward systems that provide incentives for members to work across organizational boundaries to discover those challenging questions that create common focus and shared forward movement.

Convening and Hosting Learning Conversations. A core aspect of the leader’s new work is creating opportunities for learning conversations around catalyzing questions. However, authentic conversation is less likely to occur in a climate of fear, mistrust, and hierarchical control. The human mind and heart must be fully engaged in authentic conversation for the deeper questions to be surfaced that support the emergence of new knowledge. Thus, the ability to facilitate working conversations that enhance trust and reduce fear is an important leadership capability.

Supporting Appreciative Inquiry. Opening spaces of possibility through discovering powerful questions may require a shift in leadership orientation from what is not working and how to fix it, to what is working and how to leverage it. Shifting the focus in this direction enables leaders to foster networks of conversation based on leveraging emerging possibilities rather than just on fixing past mistakes. Leaders who ask, “What’s possible here and who cares?” will have a much easier time gaining the collaboration and best thinking of their constituents than those who ask, “What’s wrong here, and who is to blame?” By asking appreciative questions, organizations have the opportunity to grow in new directions.

Fostering Shared Meaning. Leaders of organizations in the 21st century will discover that one of their unique contributions is to provide conceptual leadership — creating a context of meaning through stories, images, and metaphors within which groups can discover relevant questions as well as deepen or shift their thinking together. To tap into this pool of shared meaning, which is the ground from which both powerful questions and innovative solutions emerge, network leaders need to put time and attention into framing common language and developing shared images and metaphors.

Nurturing Communities of Practice. Many of the most provocative questions for an organization’s future are first discovered on the front lines, in the middle of the action of everyday life. Key strategic questions that are critical for creating sustainable value are often lost because few of today’s leaders have been trained to notice, honor, and utilize the social fabric of learning that occurs through the informal “Communities of Practice” that exist throughout an organization. A Community of Practice is made of up people who share a common interest and who work together to expand their individual and collective capacity to solve problems over time. Nurturing these informal learning networks and honoring the questions they care about, is another core aspect of the leaders new work.

Using Collaborative Technologies. Intranet and groupware technologies are now making it possible for widely dispersed work groups to participate in learning conversations and team projects across time and space. As these tools become even more widely available, leaders will need to support widespread online conversations where members throughout the organization can contribute their own questions and best thinking to critical strategic issues. The Hewlett Packard case shows how important enabling technology infrastructures are for strategic innovation. Collaborative tools will be a critical factor in how well strategic questions travel both within the organization and among customers and other stakeholders who are key to success.


Here are some questions for assessing your organization’s capabilities:

  • To what degree does the leadership in your organization foster an environment in which discovering the “big questions” is as much encouraged as coming up with workable solutions?
  • Does your organization have rewards or incentives for members to work across functional boundaries to find those challenging questions that create common focus and forward movement for knowledge creation?
  • Do your leadership development programs focus as much on the art and architecture of framing powerful questions as they do on techniques for problem-solving?
  • Do your organization’s strategic planning processes include structured ways to discover the “big questions” that, if answered, would have real strategic leverage?
  • Are there collaborative technology tools that enable people on the front lines to ask each other questions related to their daily work (for example, customer service, equipment maintenance) and receive help with these questions from colleagues in other locations?
  • Do senior leaders in your organization see the process of strategy evolution as one that engages multiple voices and perspectives in networks of conversation that contribute both to discovering the “big questions” as well as to finding innovative solutions within individual arenas of responsibility?

Co-Evolving the Future

we can make a difference to the whole

It is quite easy to learn the basics of crafting powerful questions. However, once you have begun down this path, it’s hard to turn back. As your questions broaden and deepen, so does your experience of life. There is no telling where a powerful question might lead you. Transformative conversations can result from posing a simple question such as: “What questions are we not asking ourselves about the situation in the Middle East?” Tantalizing possibilities emerge from the simple act of changing a preposition from “in” to “for” as in the HP example. Profound systemic change can emerge from creating a process for discovering and acting on the “big questions” within a business setting.

Where collaborative learning and breakthrough thinking are requirements for a sustainable business future, asking “questions that matter” and engaging diverse constituencies in learning conversations are a core process for survival. Because questions are inherently related to action, they are at the heart of an organization’s capacity to mobilize the resources required to create a positive future. Seeing the organization as a dynamic network of conversations through which the organization evolves its future encourages members at every level to search for questions related to their real work that can catalyze collective energy and momentum. It enables each one of us to realize that our thoughtful participation in discovering and exploring questions that matter — to our team, to our organization, and to the larger communities of which we are a part — we can make a difference to the whole. For it is only in this way that organizations will be able to cultivate both the knowledge required to thrive today and the wisdom needed to ensure a sustainable future.

  • Assess Your Organization’s Capabilities: Assess the degree to which your organization is an “inquiring system.” How is the organization developing people and infrastructures in ways that support discovering and asking catalytic questions to foster new knowledge and help shape the future?
  • Read, Read, Read: Begin with the resources listed at the end of this article. They will point you to more material about the power of “big questions” and the creation of knowledge through networks of conversations.
  • Surf the Net: You can find lots of interesting perspectives on questions and questioning by experimenting with different combinations on your search engine. Some we’ve found particularly useful are: asking powerful questions; strategic questioning; and questions and breakthrough thinking. Experiment! You might be surprised by what you learn.

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Developing your strategic plan.

Free Micro-eMBA Module #6: Developing Your Strategic Plan

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC .

This module is in the organization development program . However, this module can also be used by anyone as a self-study exercise to learn more about strategic planning and writing a strategic plan.

Sections of This Module Include the Following

  • Introduction
  • Materials for Review
  • Suggested Topics for Reflection and Discussion
  • Activities to Build Systems and Practices
  • Assessments
  • Tracking Open Action Items


Very simply put, strategic planning identifies where the organization wants to be at some point in the future and how it is going to get there. The “strategic” part of this planning process is the continual attention to current changes in the organization and its external environment, and how this affects the future of the organization. Skills in strategic planning are critical to the long-term success of your organization. This form of planning includes:

a) Taking a wide look around at what’s going on outside the organization and how it might affect the organization (an environmental scan), and identifying opportunities and threats b) Taking a hard look at what’s going on inside the organization, including its strengths and weaknesses (perhaps doing a SWOT analysis) c) Establishing statements of mission, vision, and values (some prefer to do that as the first step in planning) d) Establishing goals to accomplish over the next (usually) three years or so, as a result of what’s going on inside and outside the organization e) Identifying how those goals will be reached (strategies, objectives, responsibilities, and timelines)

Strategic planning determines the overall direction and goals of the organization. Consequently, strategic planning influences numerous aspects of the organization, including what:

a) Products and services will be provided by the business and how those products and services will be designed b) Organizational design and roles will be needed by the organization c) Performance goals should be established for positions throughout the business d) Board committees should be developed (in the case of corporations) e) Resources will be needed to achieve those goals, and consequently, how much money is needed to procure those resources — ultimately, the goals determine the content of various budgets

Two key points to remember while proceeding through this module are: 1) The planning process is at least as important as the planning document itself 2) The planning process is never “done” — the planning process is a continuous cycle that’s part of the management process itself

NOTE ABOUT BOARD COMMITTEES: Consider establishing a Board Planning Committee (in the case of corporations) to review and help guide the implementation of the information in this learning module. The Planning Committee might be comprised of chairs from other board committees. Major activities and goals from this learning module could be incorporated into that Committee’s Committee Work Plan . This module includes additional recommendations for membership in the group of planners.

NOTE ABOUT OCCASIONAL REFERENCES TO NONPROFIT MATERIALS: Various links below refer to nonprofit strategic planning — there is little difference between strategic planning in for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Consequently, all of the materials referenced below can be useful for understanding strategic planning in for-profit organizations.

NOTE ABOUT STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS USED IN THIS MODULE: There are many different ways to do strategic planning. The process used depends on the nature and needs of the organization, the reason for the planning (there are numerous, different reasons for doing strategic planning), the types of priorities faced by the organization, the rate of change outside and inside the organization, the ways that decisions are made in the organization, the expertise of people to do planning, the extent of external research needed to do the planning, and the personal preferences of the organization’s leaders and the facilitator(s) of the planning process. Because this module aims to explain strategic planning to people who have no — or very little — experience in strategic planning, some basic approaches are described in this module. Other approaches are described in the Library’s Strategic Planning topic.

Also, consider Related Library Topics

Learners who complete this module will achieve the following outcomes:

  • Decide if You Are an Entrepreneur
  • Answer: Do you Have Right Planning and Financial Skills?
  • Answer: What Human Resources Will You Need?
  • Articulate Your First Products and Markets
  • Verify If Those Markets Really Exist
  • Identify the Best Approaches to Pricing
  • Answer: How Much Money Will You Need?
  • Draft Your First Strategic and/or Business Plan


  • The following materials will help you address each of the topics and learning activities in this module.
  • NOTE: Each of the following links is to a one- to two-page overview. Read all of the following documents referenced by the following links.

Introduction to Basics of Planning (general to most planning processes)

Read all of the documents referenced by the following topic.

Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process

Introduction to Strategic Planning

Read all of the documents referenced in the following topics.

  • Basic Description of Strategic Planning
  • Benefits of Strategic Planning
  • When Should Strategic Planning Be Done?
  • Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning Models

Preparation for Strategic Planning

Read all of the documents referenced by the following topics.

  • Need Consultant or Facilitator to Help You With Planning?
  • Who Should Be Involved in Planning?
  • How Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?
  • How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?

Conducting Strategic Planning

  • Basics of Developing Mission, Vision and Values Statements
  • Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals
  • Basics of Action Planning (as part of strategic planning)
  • Basics of Writing and Communicating a Strategic Plan
  • Basics of Monitoring, Evaluating and Deviating from the Strategic Plan


  • Learners are strongly encouraged to discuss the following questions with peers, board members, management, and employees, as appropriate.
  • There are a variety of views and approaches regarding strategic planning. There is no one “perfect” approach for all situations. Therefore, the reader is exposed to a variety of perspectives in the materials that are referenced from the items below.

Introduction to Planning and Strategic Planning

  • What are at least 3 of the key terms in a typical plan? See Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process .
  • What are at least 3 of the typical phases in a typical planning process? See Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process .
  • What are at least 5 of the 9 guidelines for successful planning and implementation? See Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process.
  • What is the purpose of strategic planning? See Basic Description of Strategic Planning .
  • In the Introduction section of this learning module, you read about numerous aspects (5) of the organization that were directly influenced by the results of strategic planning. Name as many of these items as you can and then compare your answers to those listed in the Introduction section of this module.
  • What are some of the benefits of strategic planning? See Benefits of Strategic Planning .
  • What is the “basic” strategic planning model? See Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning Models .
  • What is the “issues-based” strategic planning model? See Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning Models .
  • What is the “organic” strategic planning model? See Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning Models .
  • When should strategic planning be done? See When Should Strategic Planning Be Done?
  • What are at least 4 considerations as to whether a strategic planning facilitator will be needed? See Need Consultant or Facilitator to Help You With Planning?
  • Name at least four of the types of people who should be involved in strategic planning. See Who Should Be Involved in Planning?
  • What are some preparations to make before conducting strategic planning? See How Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?
  • What is the most important factor in accomplishing complete attendance at planning meetings? See How Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?
  • What are at least 5 of the actions to ensure the implementation of the strategic plan? See How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?
  • What is a strategic analysis? See Basic Description of Strategic Planning .
  • What is a mission statement? What’s one way to develop one? See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements .
  • What is a vision statement? What’s one way to develop one? See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements .
  • What is a values statement? What’s one way to develop one? See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements .
  • What are at least 3 of the questions to answer when identifying a strategic issue? See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals .
  • What’s one way that strategic goals can be generated from strategic issues? See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals .
  • What is an action plan? See Basics of Action Planning .
  • What should a strategic plan document include? See Basic Description of Strategic Planning.
  • What are at least 6 of the typical parts of a Strategic Plan document? See Writing and Communicating the Plan .
  • What are at least 5 of the questions to ask, when monitoring implementation of the Plan? See Basics of Monitoring, Evaluating, and Deviating from Plan .


  • Learners are strongly encouraged to complete the following activities and share and discuss results with peers, board members, management, and employees, as appropriate.
  • You can write a draft of your own strategic plan by filling in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document as you proceed through the activities listed below.
  • Learners are strongly encouraged to use a team of planners to complete the strategic plan. The following information references advice and guidelines for forming this team.
  • As you proceed through the following activities, be sure to note any incomplete actions in the Action Item Planning List .

Preparation (for Organizations That Have Not Yet Done Strategic Planning) — Do a “Plan for a Plan”

  • Address any hesitations that planners might have before you start planning. Do you have any reservations or hesitations about the value of strategic planning? If you do not want to pursue the strategic planning process as it is described in this module, then how will you (the board, chief executive, and other employees) decide what your organization will be doing over the next few years and how it will do it? (Many banks/funders, prospective board members, and chief executives will want to see some form of a strategic plan document. Consider this in your decision about how your organization will do strategic planning.)
  • What planning model will you use? Basic? Issues-based? Organic? How did you select the model that you’ll use? See Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning Models .
  • When should your strategic planning be done? See When Should Strategic Planning Be Done?
  • Will you need a facilitator? If so, where might you get one? See Need Consultant or Facilitator to Help You With Planning?
  • Who should be involved in your strategic planning? Be sure at least the Board Chair is involved and certainly the CEO. See Who Should Be Involved in Planning?
  • Will there be strong, visible support of the CEO and Board Chair to others in the organization? See How Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?
  • How will you ensure the implementation of the plan? See How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?

Developing Your Basic Strategic Plan Document

The following activities involve completing a Strategic Plan document. A framework, or template, is provided for you, Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document . However, that document is in HTML, of Web-based format. You might be better to re-create the framework, using your preferred word -processing software.

  • Write Your Mission Statement. In the section labeled “Mission Statement” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write a concise description of the purpose of your organization. Answer the question: “Why does our organization exist?” When answering this question, include the nature of your products and the groups of customers who buy your products. The mission statement should provide continued direction and focus to your plans and operation in your organization. See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements .
  • Write Your Vision Statement. In the section labeled “Vision Statement” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document write your vision statement. Answer the question “What do you hope for your organization and customers?” Ideally, it should be written in a compelling, inspirational fashion. See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements .
  • Write Your Values Statement. In the section labeled “Values Statement” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write down the important values from which you want your organization to operate. The values statement depicts the priorities in how the organization carries out activities with stakeholders. See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements .
  • Conduct an External Analysis. In Appendix C of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write down your thoughts from an external analysis. An external analysis looks at societal, technological, political, and economic trends affecting the organization, e.g., trends in the economy, recent or pending legislation, demographic trends, rate of access to trained labor, and competition. In your external analysis, don’t forget to look at stakeholders’ impressions of the organization, including bankers, customers, community leaders, etc.
  • Conduct an Internal Analysis. In Appendix C of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write down your thoughts from your internal analysis. Write down the major strengths and weaknesses of your organization. Write down the major threats and opportunities regarding your organization. Consider trends affecting the organization, e.g., the strength of sales, the reputation of the organization, the expertise of employees, facilities, the strength of finances, the strength of administrative offices and operations, etc.
  • Identify Strategic Issues. In Appendix C of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write down the major immediate and near-term issues that your organization must address. New organizations, in particular, are often better off to first look at the major obstacles or issues that if face, and next identify the more forward-looking, developmental goals to accomplish over the next few years. For example, current issues might be that sales are dropping, there is no research and development to generate new products, the employee turnover rate is too high, etc. Developmental goals for a new organization might be, for example, building a board, doing a strategic plan, doing a market analysis to build a new product, hiring employees, etc. See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals .
  • Establish Strategic Goals. In the section labeled “Goals and Strategies” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write down the strategic goals to address the above-identified issues and the more forward-looking, developmental goals. Consider goals over the term of your strategic plan, but look very closely at the next year especially. Design and word your goals to be “SMARTER”, that is, specific, measurable, acceptable to the people working to achieve the goals, realistic, timely, extending the capabilities of those working to achieve the goals, and rewarding to them. Don’t worry so much about having to specify goals to be exactly “correct”. Carefully consider whether the goals and strategies are closely aligned with your mission, vision, and values. See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals .
  • Develop a Staffing Plan. In Appendix E of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write a rough draft of a staffing plan. To do this, reference each of the strategies to reach the goals and consider what kind of capabilities are needed to implement the strategies. This might seem like a lot of guesswork, particularly if you don’t have experience in supervision. However, don’t worry so much about being exactly correct — you will likely refine your staffing plan later on as you design and plan your products. If you are developing a new organization, you might think about including the following typical roles in your initial staffing plan (but again, consider these roles in terms of implementing the strategies in your plan): chief executive, administrative assistant, and product managers for each of your major product goals. See Organizing Staff .
  • Conduct Action Planning. In Appendix A of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , for each strategy, write down the objectives that must be achieved while implementing the strategy, when the objective should be completed, and by whom — especially over the next year. As you identify who will accomplish each of the objectives, you might end up refining your staffing plan. See Basics of Action Planning.
  • Describe the Process Used to Develop the Plan, in Appendix B. It helps to describe the process now, so planners can refer to it the next time they do planning.
  • Document Any Strategic Goals Assigned to the Board Committees and CEO in Appendix D. One of the best ways to ensure that strategic goals are achieved is to assign them to a person or group of people.
  • Develop an Operating Budget for Each Year in the Plan, for Appendix F. In the table labeled “Your Budget Planning” in Appendix F of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , list the resources you will need to achieve the goals in the strategic plan and what it will cost to obtain and use the resources. You don’t have to be exactly accurate — besides, you may end up changing your budget as you give more attention to product design and planning in the next learning module. You should do a budget for each of the years included in the span of time covered by your strategic plan — but give particular attention to the first year of the time span.
  • Specify How the Implementation of the Plan Will Be Monitored and Evaluated. In Appendix G of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write down how the status of implementation will be monitored and evaluated. Consider, for example, weekly written status reports to the chief executive from employees, and monthly written reports to board members. The status will address whether goals and objectives are being met or not, current issues, and any resources needed to implement the plan. See How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?
  • Specify How Plan Will Be Communicated. In Appendix H of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document , write down how the plan will be communicated. Consider distributing all (or highlights from) the plan to everyone in the organization. Post your mission on the walls of your main offices. Consider giving each employee a card with the mission statement on it. Publish portions of your plan in your regular newsletter. See Writing and Communicating the Plan .
  • Write an Executive Summary. To complete your strategic plan document, update the following sections of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document . a) Complete the section labeled “Executive Summary” (guidelines are provided in the framework) b) Gain authorization from your board (in the case of corporations) (they should sign in the section labeled “Board Authorization of Strategic Plan”) c) In the body of the plan in the section titled “Organizational Information”, include descriptions, for example, of the history of the organization, its major products, and services, highlights and accomplishments during the history of the organization, etc.
  • Acknowledge What You’ve Done — Congratulations!


1. Strategic Planning Assessment for Businesses

2. The following link is to several approaches to evaluate strategic planning. Monitoring Implementation, Evaluating Implementation


Reminders about you.

  • Are you using the skills learned in previous modules? For example, as you using methodical approaches to problem-solving and decision-making? Are you using strong practices of meeting management? Are you communicating key information to others throughout your organization?
  • Are you discussing topics and materials with peers, board members, and others, as appropriate? Discussion and ongoing feedback are some of the best methods to really learn new information and materials.
  • Are you helping others to hold you accountable for the times that you committed to reading and studying in this program?
  • Are you reflecting on learnings from past modules and how they build on the learning in this module? For example, are you seeing your organization from a systems view, as explained in the module “Starting and Understanding Your Organization?”

Reminders About Your Organization

  • The results of your strategic plan should produce updates to a variety of aspects of your organization. Consider: a) Are your products and services directly aligned with your new strategic planning goals and strategies b) Should any job descriptions and performance goals be updated for personnel in your organization? c) Should your board committees be reorganized to be more aligned to contribute toward achieving your new strategic goals?
  • How are you ensuring that your whole board understands and contributes to achieving your strategic goals?


1. One of the first indicators that an organization or a person is struggling is that open action items are not tracked and reviewed. (Open action items are required actions that have not yet been completed.) Instead, people only see and react to the latest “fires” in their workplaces or their lives. Whether open action items are critical to addressing now or not, they should not entirely be forgotten. Therefore, update and regularly review a list of open action items (identified while proceeding through this program) that includes listing each open action item, who is responsible to complete it, when it should be completed, and any associated comments. When updating the list, consider action items as identified during discussions, learning activities, and assessments in this module. Share and regularly review this action item list with the appropriate peers, board, management, and employees in your organization. You can use the following Action Item Planning List . (At that Web address, a box might open, asking you which software application to open the document.)

2. If you have questions, consider posing them in the national, free, online discussion group , which is attended by many human resource and organization development experts.

(Learners in the organization development program can return to the home page of the organization development program .)

For the Category of Strategic Planning:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

  • Related Library Topics
  • Recommended Books

strategic planning reflection questions


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Privacy Overview

Facilitator Questions for Strategic Planning

Facilitator Questions for Strategic Planning

In most aspects of life, facilitation starting with the right questions can put us on the road to discovery and ultimate success. Below we will cover facilitator questions for a strategic planning .

Those of us who earn our living facilitating strategic planning sessions know that organizations don’t hire us (facilitators) because we have all the answers. They engage us to engage them with essential questions.

When we are in a conversation we know we are being productive when people say, “that is a good question”. When conducting planning sessions, we need to “read the room” to determine if our questions are provoking the required analyses and responses.

It’s the totality of the responses that enable us to build a strategic plan from the output.

When I consider questions for strategic planning I think in terms of levels.

  • Level 1 Facilitator questions are fundamental. They cover essential topics.
  • Level 2 Facilitator questions are probes that enable us to drill down deeper on specific topics.

Download a Strategic Planning Self-Assessment ▹

This article is focussed on Level 1 Facilitator questions.

  • What organization do you most admire and what is a key attribute? This question gets participants talking. Importantly, it gets them focussed on characteristics of organizations that make them admirable. It’s a great lead in to a day spent thinking about the characteristics of their own organization.
  • Considering the power of our customers and the power of our suppliers, how would you describe the difficulty of doing business in this industry? Not every industry faces the same challenges and opportunities. It is important that a planning team have a consensus about the nature of the forces in their industry. We have developed a scoring system to identify the relative degree of difficulty in doing business within an industry. For a copy of this just respond in the contact us form and ask for the Five Forces chart.
  • How would you describe our current value proposition(s), in terms of how we respond to customer needs? At the heart of any strategic plan is the strategy that will generate sustainable and profitable customer value. Some companies have many customer segments and numerous value propositions. A value proposition is a bundle of products and/or services that meet specific customer needs. For a very useful understanding on value proposition design, I would recommend a publication by the same name and written by Alex Osterwalder.
  • What is a major priority business process, which if improved, would significantly impact the operational effectiveness of the organization? I am a major believer in the power of focusing on business process improvement as the method to improve organizational performance. Lucidchart has excellent examples of the different kinds of methodologies and their historical context.
  • What three things would increase the ability of our people to achieve the goals of the organization. Our people are the third leg on the stool that supports sustainable and profitable customer value. The first is strategic direction, which is the point of this article. The second is priority process improvements mentioned above. Organizations must move from the abstract to the concrete in terms of identifying how they are going to improve the capacity of their people to achieve the strategic direction that it sets for itself.

Strategic Objectives must include outcomes (e.g. revenue from new products), with measurements (e.g. totalling 15% of sales), within a timeframe (by 2022).

Engaging our clients with these Level 1 Facilitation questions helps move them down the road to writing their strategic plan.

Get A Strategic Planning Consultation

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How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session [2024 Strategic Planning Workshop]

By Ted Skinner

strategy planning

Annual & Quarterly Planning

how to facilitation a strategic planning session

At Rhythm Systems, our consultants are trained strategic facilitators who are crucial in strategic planning. They are planning experts who help you get the most ROI from your meeting with their expert facilitation skills. We have facilitated hundreds of successful Strategic Planning , Annual Planning , and Quarterly Planning sessions for our clients. In this blog post, we will share expert insights from these sessions so that you can scale up your company. Strategy planning (and expert facilitation) is vital as the longer-term strategic priorities drive the shorter-term goals, projects, and actions with complete organizational alignment .

Note to strategic CEOs: Along with our ability to educate, coach, and facilitate specific content and methodology during on-site sessions, one of the main reasons CEOs choose to bring us in to run their sessions is so that the CEO can fully participate and implement their 5 year plan template . It is impossible for a CEO to effectively facilitate a session with all the stakeholders and fully participate simultaneously. The CEO's contribution and participation is significant to reach the desired outcome. Session facilitation is an extra burden that is better placed on another team member or an expert facilitator. You should learn to be a good facilitator with tips and tricks or consult with us to see if hiring an expert makes sense.

Free Guide: How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session

Rhythm Systems Annual Planning Facilitation Guide

Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 1: THINK Through the Purpose and Outcome of the Meeting

Stephen Covey advises us to "begin with the end in mind." What is the purpose of this meeting? What do we hope to accomplish? Who should attend? What are our strategic objectives for this workshop? What work should the meeting participants get done before the meeting (research and homework)? What are the specific outcomes or outputs we are looking for from this strategic planning session? What is the role of a facilitator in a strategic planning session? Do we need a plan B for a potential 2023 recession ?

Creating an Objective Statement that you can share with the rest of the team in advance is a great way to ensure everyone who attends the meeting has shared goals and expectations for your time together. It will also clarify you as you move into step 2 and begin planning for the session. Make sure that this aligns with your mission statement. This differs from  team meetings ; setting expectations upfront is critical for your strategic objectives. 

An Objective Statement consists of three parts:

Part 1: TO : (What is the action? What will you do? Start with a verb.)

Part 2. IN A WAY THAT : (How will you do it? List criteria, scope, involvement, success measures, specific tactics, side benefits, or any other relevant information. Use bullet points.)

Part 3. SO THAT : (Why are you doing this? Why is it essential? What is the main benefit?)

Sample Objective Statement for one company's Quarterly Planning Session


TO : Conduct a practical strategic planning session


  • Brings the Senior Leadership Team together for two full days to develop an effective strategy
  • Highlights the previous quarter's accomplishments
  • Updates and advances our Annual Plan and long-term goal attainment
  • It allows us to discuss-debate-agree critical topics as a team
  • It prepares us to overcome any potential obstacles to hitting our year-end goals
  • Identifies 3-5 Company Priorities, complete with owners and clear success criteria
  • Identifies clear Individual Priorities for each member of the leadership team
  • Prepares us to begin thinking about next year's Annual Plan
  • It allows us to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Answers the key questions facing our company and industry
  • It helps us clearly define and communicate our business strategy to the entire organization
  • Fun ideas for strategic planning are always considered and change up the energy in the room

SO THAT : We finish this year strong and set ourselves up for a solid start to next year.

Professional Strategic Planning Facilitation Video

HubSpot Video

Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 2: Plan all the Details in Advance

Anytime you bring your team together for a meeting, whether for a few hours or days, you invest time, energy, and money. The way to ensure you get the most out of your investment is to be adequately prepared. The preparation checklist below will help you.

Download the Meeting Facilitation Guide

Strategic Planning Process Meeting Preparation Checklist

  • Set the date – You will want to determine and set the date as soon as possible so that everyone on your team can attend. The longer you wait, the harder it is to find a time that works. If this is an ongoing, standing meeting, ensure everyone has it on their calendar every time it occurs and actively works to protect the scheduled time with the team.
  • Select the Facilitator – It is essential to pick the right person to facilitate your session . The facilitator is responsible for creating the agenda, preparing content material (slides/visuals), arriving early to ensure setup and materials, testing technology, and facilitating the session. If you must choose someone on your team who will be in attendance, remember to occasionally stop during the meeting and ask their opinion if not previously shared. If you choose someone who would not usually be in attendance, ensure they understand that their job is to facilitate, not offer opinions on discussions they would not typically be involved in. Role clarity is essential.
  • Select a location – A meeting or planning session in your conference room can be ineffective. The opportunity to lose focus and be interrupted by operational issues increases exponentially. This is fine for short, weekly, routine meetings, but we recommend taking your team off-site for 1-2 day planning sessions. 
  • Choose a Meeting Coordinator – This person is in charge of handling all of the logistics for the meeting, making sure participants have made travel arrangements, the conference room (on-site or off-site) is booked and set up for the session, and that all participants are aware of any homework/preparation that is needed for the session. Use someone on your team who is meticulous with details and have them build a strategic planning checklist for future meetings.
  • Prepare the meeting material – You and the facilitator should refer to your Objective Statement when creating the agenda. Be careful not to overload your agenda. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have available. Create a basic time plan to accompany your agenda. This will help you know whether or not you are on track during the meeting. Less is more when it comes to slides. The old rule was no more than 6x6 (six words long by six bullets). In today's Twitter and drive-through world, you're better served to stick to 4x4 or, better yet, 3x3. Consider revealing information one bullet point at a time, especially if you must have more than 6x6 on a slide, and always ensure it is written for your target audience.   Use our AI Goal Coach if you have any questions!
  • Email the meeting agenda and pre-work to the attendees - Communicate with all attendees at least two weeks before the session, sharing the objective statement, agenda, and any pre-work you want them to do. Realize that some people - even with proper instruction - may be in the habit of attending meetings unprepared. If you consider the pre-work essential, let the team know that it's mandatory and require them to return it in advance, or instruct them to bring copies to the meeting and build time to share the output into your agenda. This will allow people to think about the strategic goals for themselves and the company ahead of the meeting.
  • Last minute details - Work with the meeting coordinator to ensure all the meeting details have been addressed: supplies ordered, lunch planned, technology arrangements made, attendance confirmed, action plans, etc.

Remember to be realistic about what you can accomplish in the available time and set the agenda appropriately. The strategic planning facilitator must also keep the team focused on having the proper discussions for your organization. Understanding and working with the group dynamics is essential, especially in a large group. This related article can read more details about a virtual strategic planning session .

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Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 3: Do the Hard Work of Running the Strategy Session

Three definitions of the role of the facilitator:

  • "An individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. He or she is a 'content neutral' party who by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for fair, open, and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group's work."
  • "One who contributes structure and process to interactions so groups are able to function effectively and make high-quality decisions. A helper and enabler whose goal is to support others as they achieve exceptional performance."
  • "The facilitator's job is to support everyone to do their best thinking and practice. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared responsibility. By supporting everyone to do their best thinking, a facilitator enables group members to search for inclusive solutions and build sustainable agreements."

The word facilitation means to make it easy. Too bad actually facilitating a group of people isn't. It takes a tremendous amount of energy, focus, quick thinking, and patience to facilitate a meeting. Following the first two steps in this blog post (Step 1: THINK and Step 2: PLAN), you are set up for a successful session. But there is still much work to do.

Here are 15 Tips to keep the strategy session moving positively.

Download Guide: 3 Steps to Ensure Your Virtual Meeting Will Be a Success

15 Expert Tips for Facilitating a Great Zoom Strategy Meeting

1. Set ground rules at the beginning of the meeting. Let the team discuss their expectations for full participation, candor, sidebars, interruptions, tangents, and cell phone and computer use. This conversation upfront creates an environment of accountability and high commitment to the meeting. Ground rules will help reduce the stress of group interaction and make it easier to resolve problems when they arise. Capture your ground rules on a flip chart while discussing and post for reference throughout the meeting. To start with some energy, I suggest using one of our Zoom icebreakers to get things started.

2. Trust the process. Remember that you have put a great deal of time into steps 1 & and 2, so you are going into the day with a good game plan. Sometimes, things seem disjointed, or the team doesn't understand where you're going. Tell them there is a method to the madness, and ask them to trust the process with you. When utilizing a slide deck and agenda provided by Rhythm Systems, know that the function and content have been tested and proven to work many times. It may not all come together until the very end, but if you are going in with a clear objective and well-thought-out agenda, the results you're looking for will follow, and problem-solving will occur.

annual planning

3. Give yourself permission to deviate from the time plan if a topic requires more time than you thought it would. As long as the additional time is used for good, healthy debates on important issues and not the beating of dead horses, it will be a good use of time. If you do deviate from the time plan, involve the team in deciding how you will make it up. You may choose to stay late or start early one day, or you may decide to cut or shorten the time allowed for another topic. Involving the team in this discussion and decision increases engagement, energy, and commitment (see #11).

4. Celebrate your progress as you move through the session. Reflect on lessons learned and breakthroughs. Acknowledge someone when they're brave enough to bring up a tricky subject. Check in with each other to ensure you're all engaged. After breaks, consider restating what's been accomplished and where you are on the agenda.

5. Use icebreakers with purpose. Ice breakers are quick, interactive exercises designed to get the team's brain working and mouth moving. They are usually used at the beginning of a session, after breaks, and after lunch. They can also be great for raising the energy level late in the afternoon. A quick Google search will provide hundreds of ideas for icebreakers. One of our favorites is a quick round of victories or good news. This serves several purposes. It gives team members a chance to share information, allows them to get to know each other better, and starts the meeting on a positive note. We recommend that you start every session with some version of good news.

6. Encourage full and equal participation. A team comprises many individuals, each with their own personality and preferred work style. Some are naturally more dominant and expressive, while others may be more thoughtful and reserved. One type is not better than another, and the fact that they're on your team means you value their input. The facilitator's job is to recognize these different styles and run the meeting in a way that gives each person a chance to contribute. This is a good discussion at the beginning of the session as you set the ground rules.

Set the expectation of full and equal participation clear and give the team a chance to discuss how they will do this. The facilitator may have to step in throughout the meeting, explicitly calling on individuals who have not spoken up. The facilitator may also design the meeting to include specific opportunities to hear from everyone. Examples of this would be small group breakout sessions or employing different brainstorming methods (see #8.)

7. Use visual aids effectively. Any combination of flip charts, whiteboards, sticky notes, posters, PowerPoint/Keynote, and handouts will do. We've all seen the person who used every animation tool within PowerPoint - wiggly jiggly icons, annoying animations, slides swiping in from 20 directions in 5 different ways. Don't overdo it; allow your visuals to distract from the meeting. People have different learning styles; Some are visual learners, some auditory, some kinesthetic, and some experiential, so mix it up and use all aids in moderation. Keep in mind that your body language is one of the most essential visual aids that you have; make sure that you make people feel like they are being heard.

virtual strategy planning facilitator

8. Use different methods for brainstorming. Round robin, freewheeling, group pass, and silent reflection are all proven methods you may try. Brainstorming aims to produce a comprehensive list of potential ideas, solutions, or plans. When done well, brainstorming should increase participation, reduce inhibition, stimulate ideas, increase creativity, and be a group process.

The general rules for all brainstorming methods are:

  • Focus on quantity first and capture as many ideas as possible.
  • Encourage and welcome all ideas - ask the team to dig deep and think beyond the obvious - every idea submitted should be captured.
  • Hold off on judgment, criticism, or reality checks - this should be a "safe time." Ideas will be discussed and debated later.
  • Use short phrases and bullet points, not paragraphs and lengthy explanations.
  • "Piggyback" on others' ideas. Outlandish ideas can be stepping stones to good, workable ideas.
  • Although giving a brief overview of brainstorming rules can be helpful, there's no need to go into an elaborate explanation. "Let's brainstorm annual priorities that will move us toward our 3-5 year strategic plan . Remember, let's not judge the ideas but just capture and understand them first." Then, begin your chosen method of brainstorming. As you move through the process, anticipate that someone will break the rules - that's when the facilitator steps in and makes the correction.

Doing Planning Virtually? Explore Your Options

Round Robin

Ask for a volunteer to start the brainstorming process with one idea. The facilitator captures the idea on a flip chart for all to see. Ask the volunteer to choose whether to go to the right or the left, allowing the person sitting next to them to offer one idea. The facilitator continues to chart the answers, going around the room until everyone can contribute at least one picture. You can then try to take a second pass around the room if the ideas are flowing freely, or you may open it up to anyone who has another idea not previously mentioned.


Suppose you're working with a group where equal participation is not an issue. In that case, you may be able to open the brainstorming session up by asking for ideas and allowing people to offer suggestions in any order at all. Use the participants' words to chart all ideas with short bullet points. This method can go fast, so you may want to ask for a volunteer to help chart answers using a second flip chart.

Each person in the group starts with a piece of paper, writes down one idea, and then passes the piece of paper to the next person. The following person then builds on the original idea, adding a few thoughts. Continue around the room until the owner returns their original piece of paper. You can then ask each person to take a minute to review their original idea and share it with the team.

Silent Reflection

Some people need a little time to think and formulate their ideas. Instruct the team that you give them a certain amount of time (5-15 minutes, depending on the topic) to think and write down their ideas. You can ask them to write their thoughts on sticky notes, one idea per note, or list them on paper. If you use sticky notes, you can ask them to read one statement at a time and place them on the wall, grouping all similar ideas together. If they are written on notebook paper, you can use the round-robin method to share and chart the ideas.

9. Use a Parking Lot. Stay on track by creating a place to capture ideas that are inappropriate to the discussion at hand but that you don't want to lose. Make it visible to all using a whiteboard, tear sheet, etc. This helps you keep the meeting focused without chasing too many "rabbit trails." It is important to honor all ideas, questions, and concerns during a session, and by placing the item in your parking lot, you send the subtle message that all contributions are essential. Refer to the parking lot items while facilitating when appropriate and review any unresolved items at the end of your session, moving them to an action item list. In a strategy meeting, you must keep the team on task; using a parking lot can help you accomplish that.

planning facilitator

10. Deal with difficult people ahead of time. Before your meeting, think about participants who tend to be outspoken, dominate, or argue in meetings. Think also about participants who may have felt bullied or intimidated or have a history of not participating openly. Have a conversation with these people before the session, explaining your concern and asking for their help in creating a healthy and productive environment. When talking to the dominant person, helpful language might include, "Jim, I'm trying to increase participation in this meeting. I appreciate your outspokenness and value your input. If it's ok with you, I'd like you to go last so I may first hear the rest of the team's thinking before you share yours." Be sure to reevaluate and give that participant a chance to share.

This is also an excellent topic to discuss while setting ground rules at the beginning of the session. Discuss the expectations for politeness and tone during the meeting, and ask the team for permission to point it out if things get off track. If a conflict arises during a meeting, the facilitator must be prepared to step in and take control of the meeting. Anytime the discussion becomes accusatory or personal, the facilitator can ask the participant to reword statements so that they are focused on solutions, facts, and business issues, not people and blame. An excellent technique for redirecting a heated discussion is to ask the team to discuss their learnings rather than their frustrations. Be sure to do this whenever the language becomes personal; before you know it, your team will police this behavior themselves. Conflict resolution is the central role of the facilitator.

11. Keep the energy high. Enthusiasm is contagious - and so is negativity. Some people need to doodle while they think, some need toys like a Koosh ball or rubber Gumby, others need talk time with other participants, and others need to stand up or walk around the room from time to time. Think through your meeting day and plan ways to keep the energy high for the entire time to keep the group paying attention.

Have participants work in pairs, write something down, work together on puzzles, make mini-presentations on topics assigned before and after breaks, schedule group breakout sessions, etc. Remember that the room's energy is often a notch or two below the facilitator's, so it is vital to keep your energy high. Try to get plenty of sleep the night before, eat well, have plenty of water on hand, and take breaks as needed, as group facilitation is challenging!

12. Get to a consensus. Many discussion topics require moving the group from several individuals, independent ideas to one agreed-upon group decision. Consensus can be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution everyone on the team can support. It does not mean that everyone on the team has to agree that this is their number one favorite resolution, just that they will support the decision in the future. Supporting a decision means that you will speak positively about the decision to others and do everything in your power to ensure the decision results in a positive outcome. You will not say," They decided."

Explaining the definition of consensus and support to the team at the beginning of the discussion can help resolve the issue. An essential step in reaching a consensus is ensuring that all ideas are evaluated, and everyone's perspective is heard. This is important in getting buy-in for the conclusion and generating the best ideas and solutions. Structuring a process for team decision-making is a critical facilitation skill.

Here are some tips to help team decision-making:

  • Use the brainstorming tips above to identify all viable solutions (see #8)
  • Combine and link similar ideas
  • Use structured methods, like The Six Thinking Hats, to help take the emotion out of the discussion.
  • Set a time limit for discussion on each potential solution
  • Make sure everyone is participating in the debate and, make sure everyone is actively listening and applying their listening skills
  • Work to narrow the options down to as few as possible
  • Don't be afraid to call for a vote to see how close the group is to completing the agreement
  • If there are just one or two holdouts, seek to understand what and how firm their objections are
  • Engage the group in troubleshooting to minimize the potential negative impact identified by any complaints or concerns raised
  • Restate the most popular resolution, adding one or two points addressing the concerns raised, and ask the holdouts if they can support that decision
  • Sometimes, people will get caught up in the moment and continue the debate just to argue. Ask the holdout if they will lose sleep if the group moves forward with the proposed resolution. Refer to the definition of support and ask if they will support the decision.
  • With consensus, there is often compromise. Only some get everything they want out of the final decision. However, because you created an environment where everyone has had an opportunity for input, the conclusions reached will often be very successful and highly supported.
  • If you are running a virtual strategic planning session,  visit the link to learn some additional tips to help you get the most out of your planning session.

annual planning

13. Document and publish the Who-What-When. Who-What-When action items are leading indicators of successful meeting outcomes. How often do teams meet, discuss, and debate critical topics, then set the next meeting date only to discover that no progress has been made at the next meeting? As the facilitator, it is essential that you make sure that every critical discussion ends in a documented action captured in an action list of Who is accountable (one person only), What they will do, and When it will be completed. Create a habit of ending meetings with a review of the Who-What-When and beginning discussions with confirmation on completing the actions assigned.

14. Finish strong. People won't always remember what you do or say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. And what they will remember most is how they felt at the end of the meeting. Whether you completed every objective you laid out or worked through the agenda, it's essential to recognize the team's accomplishments and celebrate their focus, contribution, time invested, and hard work. Finish the meeting by recapping the decisions, reviewing the actions committed, and confirming the next steps. We also recommend allowing everyone to share how they feel as they leave. You can go around the room and ask each person to share a one-word/one-phrase closing statement or share one takeaway or breakthrough they gained during the meeting.

15. Ask for feedback. Great facilitators are not born overnight. They develop and improve over years of experience. And the most experienced facilitators know that asking for feedback is the best way to improve. You can ask the team before they leave to write down one bright spot from the meeting and one area to work on or do differently next time. Please feel free to email everyone after the session, asking for feedback. Or, you can ask for a quick one-on-one conversation with a few trusted advisors.

You would like to encourage feedback on the agenda, pre-session communication, design of the day, homework, and how you performed and handled difficult situations during the session. If you want to receive feedback, please take it seriously. Don't take it personally or complain to others about it. All feedback, even negative feedback, is a gift. Thank the person who shared with you, and I'd like to make every effort to incorporate all helpful suggestions into your next session. Stay encouraged and stick with it. You will improve every time you facilitate, so please volunteer and look for opportunities to practice. Over time, the tips in this blog post will become second nature. Good luck!

This blog post shares tips and tricks for facilitation from the Facilitator guide written by Chris Cosper and Barry Pruit and adapted to a blog post by Ted Skinner. If you'd like to download the manual, please click here . We hope you enjoy the facilitation techniques outlined in this article to keep group discussions positive and productive. We hope this answers your question about how to lead a strategic planning session; if you want to get the best ROI on your investment of time and energy, please feel free to  drop us a line , and we'll see if it makes sense for you.

Learn More About Rhythm

Read our other strategic planning and facilitation articles below:

Annual Planning: 9 Tips to Focus & Align Your Team with a Great Plan

Annual Planning Playbook: 5 Steps to Create a Winning Annual Plan

How CEOs Can Avoid High-Cost Mistakes in Annual Planning

Best Practices for Annual Planning

16 Strategic Planning Tips to Keep Your Strategic Plan Alive

The CEO Strategy-Execution Gap...And How To Fix It

Choose Your 3-Year Strategic Growth Initiatives Wisely With This 4-Step Process

5 Steps to Getting Started on 3-Year Strategic Plans with Winning Moves

Have you been able to validate your 3 Year Strategic Plan?

Robust 3 Year Strategic Plans to Grow Revenue and Stay Competitive

Don't Confuse Strategic Thinking And Strategy Execution Plans

9 Steps to a New Revenue Growth Strategy [Infographic]

Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images

Ted Skinner

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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How I Got The Job

Inspiring Job Search Stories

Strategic Planning Interview Questions- with Simple Answers

Strategic Planning Interview Questions

Introduction : Strategic planning refers to a process of making the strategies for the organization to achieve the target and goal. So, important Strategic Planning Interview Questions are discussed in this article which will help you to perform well in your strategic planning interview. 

Answer : Strategic planning is required in the organization so that the companies can forecast the future, do the swot analysis, and make some strategies so that they can earn more profit.The state strategic depicting director is required to know about the competition, about the market position, and how to achieve the goals. These are the main tasks during a few years of their work. 

Strategic planning interview questions

Q1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?  

Answer : This question is mostly asked 

  • Show your experience and interest in this strategic planning so that employers can understand that you have the required knowledge.
  • Highlight the capabilities and skills that you can offer.
  • You can highlight that you are passionate about doing this job and you have the right skills and efficiency to make the planning for the goals and implement strategies that will help the organization to earn in the future. 
  • Also, you have the right information regarding the market trends and analysis to make changes in business plans from time to time. 
  • You can also discuss your planning and foreseeable and forecasting skills and manage different tasks at a time by planning systematic processes and showing your expertise in different areas. 

Q2. What Are The Responsibilities of a Strategic Planning director?  

Answer : Different duties are needed by the strategic planner in the organization.

  • Communication : The task of the strategic planning director is to communicate all the policies and plans framed by the organizational levels of employees from top to level employees for better implementation of policies.
  • Framing policies: The main task of the director is to frame all the policies and plans for achieving organizational goals for maintaining finance for raising funds for carrying out day-to-day administrative activities related to product distribution and selling of all the goods and services.   
  • Analyze and evaluate : Market analysis forecasting related to the financial analysis of competitive advantages and other feasibility studies are required to be done by the strategic plan for the formulation of policies in the organization. He oversees and directs all the employees in the organization and the efforts of the employees towards achieving the long-term and short-term goals.
  • Planning : He plans what to do and how to do, and also makes short-term and long-term planning of all the resources in the organization.

Q 3:Describe the qualities required for planning in the organization?

Answer: To maintain a better strategy in the reorganization there is a need to have a systematic approach for maintaining all the transactions of the company. 

So try to show your skills and knowledge related to it and also tell them the experience required for formulating the policy so that trust and ability can be maintained within the company. 

An employer should have forward-looking skills for forecasting skills, technical and specialized knowledge in the area of planning and management, and good analytical skills to analyze all the strategic policies. 

Some features lead to results, for maintaining a strategic plan. 

  • Development plan: Plans should be developed for better implementation of policies and strategies, faculty, staff,  students required to conduct the meeting from time to time to discuss the policies and strategies with all the staff and faculty, and other employees for the development organization on a monthly, weekly, or quarterly basis.
  • For achieving short-term goals the organization is required to continuously review all the data to identify different steps related to the success of these scores as well as monitoring the progress theoretically helps in knowing any deviations. 
  • You can also tell them the benefits of the strategic planning and implementation process so that they can understand that you have enough knowledge regarding how to plan and how to make strategies.

Q 4:What are the qualifications required to become a strategic planner?

Answer: A strategic planner must have experience in managing different fields in an organization and should be trusted so that he can work in coordination with different departmental heads. He should have completed his 12th from commerce or management background and have graduated in BBA and should have the formal business qualification like m com MBA or experience in any management course. 

Q 5: Discuss major challenges required to handle the pressure in the organization?

Answer : During the interview, you should remain very calm and peaceful and show your managerial skills to the employer.

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You can discuss that you can efficiently manage all the roles and duties and can overcome any weak strategies which were ineffective in achieving organizational outcomes. Also, teamwork is very important for managing the situations, so there is a need to plan ahead of time and keep a proper outlook of all the employees in the organization so that they can be made aware regarding new plans and strategies.

Q6: How will you manage all the tasks daily?

  • The first step is to organize all the work.
  • Make a to-do list based on the hierarchy of the tasks which need to be performed daily.
  • Then to make any efficient policy there is a need to communicate all the tasks with the other organizational Head So that you can easily prioritize the most important task. 
  • To plan the entire day, conduct some meetings with the team members to get their arguments and perspective and plan based on the feedback. 
  • Make some small strategies so that you can plan out the whole task in a very effective and efficient manner.
  • Then start working on the important as based on the deadlines and period to complete then this will help in achieving the goals.

Q7:Why is accountability important for better implementation of a strategy?

Answer : To successfully implement the strategic plan in the organization from all the levels are from top to bottom the plan should be accountable and consistent. By holding the people accountable for their task helps in understanding the importance of a particular task and prioritizing them for achieving the goals this also helps in implementing other parts of the plan so that the intended results can be easily created in the organization the strategic planning director is required

  Q8: Is there any requirement to plan in the beginning before implementing the strategic policies? 

Answer  Yes we should always try to learn all the strategies before the task in the organization because this helps in formulating an outline of the plan before it is ed. You can easily find out what works best and which technique can be implemented for better control in the organization. All these plants can help to reduce the cost, increase the profit and maintain the reputation of the company in the environment.

Q9: What is the best way to inform the people about the decisions of the organization?  

Answer :  Communication is the main key in informing about all the decisions and strategies to the organization and the staff members. It is very important because it adds value.

It is rightly said that the main responsibility of a strategic planner is to understand the decisions and trust for implementing them before planning for a longer-term.

Also,  there is a need to understand whether they serve the purpose or not. Lower management people are required to explain all the goals so that they can perform accordingly. There is a need to understand whether the employees are can understand those points and implements the same was true in the

Q 10:What goals are required for yourself and your team?

Answer: This question may look a little tricky but it will depend upon the employer because he wants to see whether you will be able to answer this question or not as you need to develop the team spirit among your co-workers and work in coordination in the text so that you can achieve your organizational goals.

To get a better position in the organization and should have done an extensive amount of research related to strategic planning so that you can prepare the policies based on your knowledge and the current situation. This will also help in assessing the market policies and maintaining all the activities in the organization according to the changes taking place.

Conclusion : The strategic planning interview is based on the employee’s skills and the qualities to manage the organization and make the right Strategies for the right situation. These interview questions will help you to excel in any managerial interview related to strategic planning, manager director, or any other designation.

                      Written by Ishani Saxena

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Reflective summary of strategic plan.

A strategic plan entails document that can be used to communicate organizational goal, the specific actions required to achieve the goals and other critical elements that the implementing team develops during the planning exercise. Strategic planning is an area of management leadership that helps managing an activity to set priorities, focus resources, ensure stakeholders are working on common spirit, and strengthen the operations, assess the activities, set outcomes and adjust the organizational direction to the changing environment (Kuhn and Rudolf, 23-54). Through the Diversity Strategic Plan introduced in the Holmes County School District, I am able to learn the basic crucial elements of strategic planning techniques. For instance, there is the driving force that makes the strategic developers decide on a change in a better outcome. Social discrepancies have led to most students in the Mississippi area to have poor access to quality education, as they are limited to financial and social support. Their dreams have been shattered, as a result, and only the diversity strategic plan can induce a change in them for better education, jobs, and social satisfaction.

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Through such a scenario, I learned that, before introducing any plan there is a need to focus on the future outcome. In such a case, cost-benefit analysis techniques, Force Field analysis and, SWOT analysis are important tools as they help determine the right decision. However, it is my observation that strategic planning as a leadership field requires a wide look at the surrounding environment and its impact on the current activities of individuals in an organization (Steiner, 13-41). For instance, poverty has been the key root for the poor access of education and career formation for many students in the Mississippi area and its environs. Such an aspect has been contributed by wanting social demographics where most students come from single parents, limited resources, less cultural exposure among others. These serve as the constellation forces and maybe even pose a challenge to the plan implementation as students lack sufficient parental support for the anticipated change. Social variations from the community also may be a key challenge for a better outcome for the diversity strategic plan.

Implementing the diversity strategic plan has been challenged by various aspects regarding the support from the community. Taking students to new neighbouring schools for benchmarking and learning new cultural aspects was a continuous process that required sufficient funds. However, as the income levels in the community are average; the activities for the plan were limited as students could not be taken to all anticipated areas. The school needs government support in terms of funds while the community needs to join its hands in supporting the programme. The attitudes of the students need to be changed for positive ones as most of the students showed fewer efforts in participating in it. Nevertheless, there is a need for improving the PTA, the School Board and the Implementing Committee communication for continued support, as well as, increasing female gender in the steering committee.

The activity would have been better prepared for offering a support Toolkit that included diverse cultural terminologies, concepts and techniques that are scalable and flexible to the students. Additionally, conducting a SWOT analysis before implementing the plan would have given the steering committee the light regarding the weaknesses and threats to better implementation skills (Macmillan and Mahen, 34-67). Nevertheless, introduction of learning-feedback system that reflects the single district-wide instructional program would help better-learning diversity by the students and place positive attitudes for the disabled ones. Lastly, it is a good idea to formulate a team that communicates the plan after its planning phase and before the implementation. Such an effort aims at eliminating any forthcoming resistance from the stakeholders and the targeted group. Such an effort might be followed by a pretesting survey to foresee the success of the plan. Such activities help to forecast the outcome of the plan and better outcome (Smith, 62-94).

In conclusion, strategic planning is a leadership tool for many organizations that coordinates various strategies and aligns them with the goals and objectives of the organization. For such a Diversity Strategic Plan, there is a need to learn more about the school leadership style, communication style used from the PTA to students and the different criteria used to select student leaders. The type of student leaders selected determines much the success of such a diversity plan. It is also of important to learn from other schools with similar or related diversity plans, liaise with their management Committee and adopt the best practices from them. Therefore, this area of leadership calls for efficient planning, improved evaluation techniques, oriented steering team and stakeholder support for better results.

  • Kühn, Richard, and Rudolf Grünig. Process-based Strategic Planning. Berlin: Springer, 2001. Print.
  • Macmillan, Hugh, and Mahen Tampoe. Strategic Management: Process, Content, and Implementation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
  • Smith, Ronald D. Strategic Planning for Public Relations. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. Print.
  • Steiner, George A. Strategic Planning: What Every Manager Must Know. New York: Free Press, 2012. Print.

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  1. Four Questions To Ask Yourself As You Develop A Strategic Plan

    Strategic planning is a way for leaders to step out of the day-to-day activities of running the business in order to focus on long-term strategy and ask themselves, "Are the day-to-day...

  2. 8 Tough Questions to Ask About Your Company's Strategy

    The authors suggest three tactics: First, give executives time to step... Companies often fail to address the tough questions about strategy and execution: Are we really clear, as a leadership...

  3. 5 Strategy Questions Every Leader Should Make Time For

    1. What does not fit? Ask yourself, of the various activities and businesses that you have moved into, do they make sense together? Individually, each of them may seem attractive, but can you...

  4. 11 Common Strategic Planning Questions, Answered

    1. What time frame should our strategic plan cover? Your strategic plan should look as far into the future as you're comfortable looking. But keep in mind, you need to be confident that your company's environment will be stable during the period of time you choose.

  5. Strategic Planning: A Time for Reflection

    Implementation Vet the action plans to ensure that accomplishing the steps will achieve the objective and assess whether the company has sufficient talent and financial resources to accomplish the task set out in the action plans. This three-step process allows your company to reflect on the correct topics to research.

  6. 10 Questions to Jumpstart Your Strategic Planning Process

    Innovate 10 Questions to Jumpstart Your Strategic Planning Process It's time to start planning for next year. Don't let your team come up with a brittle--and ultimately...

  7. Six Key Questions in Strategic Planning

    Reevaluate all your business activities. Is everything you are doing necessary to win and keep customers? What savings could you generate by partnering with other companies to do work or carry overhead? Could you hare a warehouse or manufacturing plant with a neighboring firm? Can you hare an accounting department?

  8. How to Demonstrate Your Strategic Thinking Skills

    Developing your strategic thinking skills isn't enough to get you promoted. In order to advance in your career, you need to demonstrate them. Leaders want to know what you think, and they view ...

  9. 20 Innovative Strategic Planning Questions to Prepare ...

    Ask, "What gets us up in the morning?" (Bill Taylor) Strategic Marketing Questions What are we doing to reboot our marketing for the new realities of customers buying in dramatically different ways? (Mitch Joel) What are our plans to introduce more sense-based cues into our product or service?

  10. 40 Strategic Questions to Ask

    Strategic Questions to Ask Assessing your Current Strategy 1. Does your organization's corporate responsibility strategy match the availability of your current resources? This question addresses your strategy in terms of the funding, time, people, and information necessary to make the strategy work, determining its feasibility. 2.

  11. Five Essential Strategy Questions Boards Should Be Asking

    Furthermore, the strategy must leverage digitalization, virtual work and automation gained during the global pandemic while confirming the right balance in the workforce portfolio (e.g., traditional, virtual, contingent, digitally enabled) to attract and retain key talent. 2. Does the strategy identify and redefine key risks as potential ...

  12. How to Set Strategic Planning Goals

    4. Measurable. When crafting strategic goals, it's important to define how progress and success will be measured. For instance, the goal "become a household name" is valid but vague. Consider the intended timeframe to reach this goal and how you'll operationally define "a household name.". The method of obtaining data must also be ...

  13. Ultimate Guide To Strategic Planning

    Strategic planning is a proven method to align core values, mission statements and goals to provide focus and profitability for your company. ... but it may allow management and employees to ask valuable questions about the progress of the plan. A scorecard is a visual method that works better with most people than a written document. Strategic ...

  14. SOAR Analysis

    Summary. A SOAR analysis is an acronym standing for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. It's a strategic planning tool that can help you identify opportunities that align with the strengths of your organization. Once you've done this, it enables you to create an action plan so you can bridge the gap between where you are now ...

  15. The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

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

  16. Strategic Questions: Engaging People's Best Thinking

    Strategic learning can occur, not only through formal planning activities, but also through webs of informal conversations and networks of relationships, both within an organization and among key stakeholders. Choosing to ask and explore "big questions" — questions that matter to the future of the organization — is a powerful force.

  17. Crafting Your Strategic Plan: Free Business Training

    Consequently, strategic planning influences numerous aspects of the organization, including what: a) Products and services will be provided by the business and how those products and services will be designed. b) Organizational design and roles will be needed by the organization. c) Performance goals should be established for positions ...

  18. Facilitator Questions for Strategic Planning

    When I consider questions for strategic planning I think in terms of levels. Level 1 Facilitator questions are fundamental. They cover essential topics. Level 2 Facilitator questions are probes that enable us to drill down deeper on specific topics. Download a Strategic Planning Self-Assessment .

  19. How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session [2024 Strategic Planning

    Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 1: THINK Through the Purpose and Outcome of the Meeting Stephen Covey advises us to "begin with the end in mind." What is the purpose of this meeting? What do we hope to accomplish? Who should attend? What are our strategic objectives for this workshop?

  20. PDF Practical Approach to Visioning and Strategic Planning

    long-term strategic plan. Therefore, these realities should always be factored in the planning process. Why Do Strategic Planning? An overriding purpose for strategic planning is to create and place the organization at a competitive advantage in the future. Specific reasons for doing strategic planning include:

  21. Why Invest in Strategic Reflection?

    Strategic reflection strengthens leadership, develops team capacity, and facilitates transitions. These processes are difficult because they question the organization itself, its objectives, and capabilities. The organization must be open to admitting mistakes and learning from them. It must have the willingness to be questioned and to ...

  22. Strategic Planning Interview Questions- with Simple Answers

    Answer: Strategic planning is required in the organization so that the companies can forecast the future, do the swot analysis, and make some strategies so that they can earn more profit.The state strategic depicting director is required to know about the competition, about the market position, and how to achieve the goals.These are the main tasks during a few years of their work.

  23. Reflective Summary of Strategic Plan

    Reflective Summary of Strategic Plan. A strategic plan entails document that can be used to communicate organizational goal, the specific actions required to achieve the goals and other critical elements that the implementing team develops during the planning exercise. Strategic planning is an area of management leadership that helps managing ...