Strategic planning is an exercise in gathering and documenting information about the past, present and future of your business. Strategic planning helps determine where you want to go over the next few years, how you are going to get there and how to recognize when you have arrived.
Following a seven step process, we can work with you through each step:
1. Identify your mission statement. It is amazing how many organizations do not take the time to develop this statement. A mission statement is foundational to all strategic planning work. An effective mission statement describes what the company does, provides insight into client value and captures the essence of your company.
2. Create a vision of the future. A vision statement should look to the future. After all, you cannot get to where you want to go unless you know where you want to go. Think ahead to three to five years from now and write your story. What is it that your organization has achieved? Tighten that story into a clear crisp sentence and share it.
3. Develop core values and guiding principles. Core values and guiding principles are foundational to your entire organization. Guiding principles are a set of accepted guidelines formed by the business that capture how your people act, work, make decisions, set priorities and conduct themselves. It is imperative to set and communicate core values and principles or else they will set themselves over time through employee habits.
4. Create long-term goals and smart objectives. Goals are general statements outlining what you want to achieve to meet your mission and vision and address any issues you are facing. For every goal, it is important to identify strategies to achieve them. Objectives should be SMART; that means specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. It is important that you make a distinction between long-term goals and smart objectives for those goals.
5. Establish action plans with timelines. An action plan is a visual representation of your strategic planning items. It includes high-level agenda items, initiatives, champions and key elements. It includes the key areas that your organization will focus on in order to achieve its goals and objectives.
6. Build a communication plan. Communication plans should not be complicated and should be shared within your organization. It is important that time is spent determining the best approach for getting people informed as to what is planned and ensuring that they know impacts of not achieving the objectives. Consider printed plans, maps, high-level visuals, etc. It is all about communication. Be visual, be creative.
7. Establish an implementation and monitoring plan. This is important to be successful. Organizations and teams fail because they do not assign a top-notch resource to put together an implementation plan. Ensure that the rules of engagement are established and build a strong monitoring process that engages people in open dialogue centred on the actions that must be taken to be successful.
Strategic planning is an important part of every organization’s success. Everything that you do as an organization will come from your strategic plan. This includes enhanced sales, improved business processes, inventory controls, or market advancement. The list of options is huge.
We do not plan to fail, we just fail to plan.