See the full strategic planning process illustrated in less than five minutes. Understand the importance of defining your direction, setting up an effective strategic plan that can be communicated to your staff so everyone knows what the priorities are. With everyone pulling in the same direction, momentum is easy to achieve.
For more resources on building your strategic plan, view our Essentials Guide to Strategic Planning.
“Hi. My name is Erica Olsen. Today, I’m going to provide you an overview of the strategic planning process and instead of going through a long boring list of definitions, we’re going to do it with an illustration. Let’s get started. We always start with our mission statement and I have this illustrated as a box because a good mission statement helps clarify what’s in and what’s out, and most importantly, answers the question, “Why we exist as an organization?”. Once you’ve answered that, you then jump to determining where you are now. And we figure out where we are now by looking at data, both externally and internally. What’s going on in your industry and your environment, with your competitors, with your customers? What is your staff saying about what’s working and what’s not working? What are your partners saying about what they like or what they don’t like? We collect all that information and we synthesize it into our handy little strategic thinking tool called a SWOT; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Once we have that identified, we use that information as well as our collective thinking to determine where we want to be in the future.
Now you may already have a vision and that vision may just need to be updated based on the market information that you just collected, and maybe you’re refreshing it, but what’s important about the vision is it answers the question where. Where are we going? And it’s really clear to everybody in the organization, because if it’s not clear you can’t create a plan from where we are today to where we want to be in the future. Once you’ve clarified your vision, your job and your planning process is to draw the most direct line or the clearest path from where we are today to where we want to be. We start by articulating our organization wide strategies, or those things that are our guard rails to keep us on a straight path. Once we have those identified, we then articulate our long-term strategic objectives. Now there are all kinds of different planning terms. I’m going to call these long-term strategic objectives to articulate those things that provide a high level view of items between where we are today and that future state, broken down in a balanced way; financial, customer, operational excellence, and people. Less than seven of these is always good.
Once we have clear long-term strategic objectives, we then identify our short-term goals. I’m defining goals using our acronym SMART; specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound. It’s fabulous to have articulated goals that go out multiple years. You can’t always do that but if you can in your planning process, that helps you have a longer-term horizon, so you have goals with milestones that are due in year one, year two, year three. You may even go past that, for this purpose let’s just say three years. For your first year, or the year current that you’re in, you’re going to want to break that down into specific goals at the functional or department level and then at the individual level. You want to cascade goals, your corporate goals to departments and then individual contributors. Once you have all of these pieces put together, you have more than likely a really good plan. But no plan is complete if you don’t talk about how you’re going to execute it, so let’s talk about a couple key items. Everybody in your organizational structure needs to have a clear action plan. He or she needs to know their piece of the overall plan and what they’re responsible for for the year or for the quarter.
You need to identify when you’re going to come together to talk about your strategy and make adjustments and adaptations. Perhaps you’ll have quarterly strategy reviews and these might be the month that you might have them. Don’t leave your off sight without identifying those dates. Recommend that. Pick a system to track your progress, so when you come into these meetings with your goals, everybody has the same documentation and language to talk about how you’re doing against your plan. With that, that’s your complete strategic planning process.”