Strategic Planning Is a Process
By Jack McGowan
Strategic planning is more than documenting a company’s desired activities or developing a wish list for the coming year. Developing a useful plan is a process that consists of the following activities:
- Assemble a planning team of people who represent key functions at the company, are committed to the organization’s success, are willing to communicate and think openly, and will be responsible for implementing the plan after it is developed.
- Clarify and document the company’s core values and mission statement, which guide and inspire employees and are filters for planning, hiring and day-to-day decisions.
- Develop a vision that describes what the company will be at a defined point in the future. Think beyond the current situation and describe this vision in qualitative and quantitative terms.
- Gather information, on which planning decisions will be based. Get honest information about the company’s performance, customer needs, market trends and competition. Identify and analyze internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats (SWOT). Prioritize key issues facing the company.
- Develop a strategy to sustainably provide value that customers will pay for and that differentiates your company from the competition. A key element of strategy is determining what a company is NOT going to be. Few companies generate sustainable success trying to be all things to all people.
- Develop multi-year objectives that support the strategy and move the company toward its vision. These objectives should be realistic, limited in number, address all aspects of the business (customers and products, operations/process, people/capabilities, financial) and be aligned to support the company strategy.
- Develop action plans to achieve the objectives. This is where the rubber meets the road. Action plans are specific, measurable, have due dates and are assigned to a person responsible for their completion.
- Develop key, quantified goals that are aligned with the objectives and enable the company to track performance.
- Inform employees about the plan so they understand the company’s goals and how their work helps the company achieve them. Keep staff updated on progress so they feel more engaged and can take corrective actions when needed.
- Regularly monitor progress implementing action plans. This is typically done at monthly review or management meetings. Discuss reasons or alternatives if action plans are not being met by due dates.
- Evaluate and update the plan each year. Determine if longer-term strategies and objectives are still appropriate and develop new action plans for the upcoming year to keep the company moving toward its longer-term vision.
Developing a plan is a learning experience. Guidance from an experienced facilitator can result in a more effective plan and a more effi cient planning process. Contact Insyte to discuss our strategic plan facilitation services.