Think Big, Be Bigger
What Is Strategic Planning?
In its purest form, strategy is the means by which an organization determines what they want to accomplish. A plan encompasses the way an organization wishes to achieve it. Therefore, a truly Strategic Plan aligns the actions of today, with the goals of tomorrow.
Why Do Strategic Planning?
In short, good strategy improves business results. So, the main reason to proceed with the process of developing a solid strategy is to grow profits leading to an organization’s substantial growth and/or sustainable recovery.
Organizations should fully engage their leadership teams in Strategic Planning, in order to set the course for their future. The process of defining the future gives the team purpose. It enables each member of the team to embrace ownership in the goals that lie ahead. Doing so will bond the team around the objectives, thereby solidifying their power to influence their destiny. Without Strategic Planning, the organization’s path is likely to remain cluttered, ambiguous and very difficult to achieve. Leadership teams can collectively take control of their future, providing a pivotal shift towards success.
As a result of the dialogue that leads to Strategic Planning, teams will realize they can achieve much more than they thought possible.
In our work, when we meet with most C-Level Leaders, they initially indicate that they have a plan. When we get to the true purpose of what we call a Strategic Plan, it often becomes evident that their plan is in fact, a set of shorter-term actions.
When planning strategy, the leadership team must truly encompass the broader-range future in order to determine what they want to accomplish. They should be proactively defining what will happen, rather than just moving from one checkpoint to the next. A good Strategic Plan defines the outcomes expected by reaching the checkpoints, and it may in fact, change the checkpoints.
What Should a Good Strategic Plan Include?
Mission is the overall purpose and focus for the organization. It is time solvent, and not likely to change substantially over time unless the company’s growth causes a broadening of purpose.
Vision captures a clear picture of the characteristics that will define the organization at a point in time 3-5 years in the future. This defines the future clearly for the organization. Vision answers the question, “Where should we be?”
(Strategic) Initiatives are the lifelines that feed the goals, connecting the present to the future. They are the things a company needs to do to change the direction, in order to meet the future goals. They are broad categories of things in which development, improvement or enhancement is necessary.
(Strategic) Milestones are the big chunks of things that need to be done in order to fully implement the Initiative. They are the connective tendons that build the ability of the appendage to move. This is where the plan gets real.
Finally, the execution of strategy should include the overall definition of the Projects and Tasks that will deliver the targeted results. All Projects and Tasks should have specific owners, due dates and measured deliverables. One of the biggest reasons a Strategic Plan fails is that there is not a detailed plan for execution, so this step is critical.
Teams should think big. And, when they do, they are quite likely to achieve even bigger.