An AI Prompt Guide to CREATE a Great Strategic Plan

Jan 19, 2024

This is the age of Artificial Intelligence – and as the world grapples with using generative AI models contextually inside their organizations, we’re here to help explore how to use AI practically and incorporate it into your next strategic planning process. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools have one thing in common– they are only as strong as the AI prompt you put into it.

So, we started by pulling together a set of prompts you can use with ChatGPT to help you pull together the core components of your next strategic plan.

What makes a good AI prompt?

Using the CREATE method, as outlined in this blog post, enables users to leverage large language models and AI tools to enhance their strategic planning process. It helps strategy leaders craft highly effective prompts with ChatGPT, assists with content creation, and helps build the foundation of their strategic plan.

Heads Up – This is NOT a Holistic Guide to Building a Plan with AI

Strategic planning is functionally about uniting the unique perspectives of your team with market data and historical performance to create a vision and plan for the future. As far as machine learning has come and will no doubt continue, it can never replace the unique perspectives people provide.

AI can help you get your planning process started, get your team “unstuck,” or help you synthesize the inputs to your plan. However, it cannot design an entire strategic plan for you.

On the surface, you might be able to prompt your way to a plan that looks pretty good. But we don’t want pretty good, we want great. And any great AI-generated output is tested, revised, and checked by a human for the best results. Especially when the output is designed to help lead your team into the future.

After all, the AI revolution requires us to lead people, not robots.

Strategic Planning AI Prompt with the CREATE Method

People often assume that the best way to use OpenAI’s ChatGPT is to merely ask it a question or tell it to do something. This approach often results in shallow, negative [or just plain wrong] responses. We have found that using the CREATE method for prompt engineering can bring out much better results and save you time and frustration.

This guide will help you build a strategic plan using inputs and writing text prompts in your ChatGPT query. We’ll show you how specificity is a key component of a good prompt, and we’ll outline the five steps guaranteed to get you the desired results for your strategic plan.

CREATE stands for:

Character

You begin by telling ChatGPT who is doing the writing. For example, you are an experienced strategic planning consultant known for writing short, concise but witty strategic plans for organizations.

Request

This is where you tell ChatGPT what you want. For example, I need a strategic plan for Acme Electronics, which is a small IT company that helps small to medium-sized organizations manage their IT needs.

Examples

If you have examples of what you are looking for, provide them. This way ChatGPT will have additional patterns and information to work with. For example, list strategies that other organizations have used or goals that you currently want to expand upon.

Adjustments

This is after the initial response has come back. You can ask ChatGPT to be funnier or ask it to focus on a specific portion and expand on it. In the overall flow, this step is listed out of order to help make the acronym better.

Tell

This is where you tell ChatGPT how you want the results. Maybe you want a 500-word article with a headline and conclusion, or maybe you want a table with specific headers.

Extras

This is where you give ChatGPT any additional information you might have about what you are writing about. For example, if revenue was $100,000 last year and you want to increase it by 10%, tell it this information.

PRO TIP: If you aren’t sure what additional information to add, conclude your AI prompt with “Before you return a response, ask me some questions to help add additional information and context to the output.”

This will return a list of questions for you to answer to help ChatGPT return a much better-informed response.

Now we will walk through each step of the create method and provide examples to help guide you through the process.

Step 1: Fill in the CREATE AI Prompt with this Template

If you found the above outline useful, here is an AI prompt template that you can use to fill in your information and begin your strategic planning journey. It is best to think through each element of the create prompt before inputting it into ChatGPT.

Character

You are an experienced strategic planning consultant known for writing short, concise, impactful strategic plans for organizations. You specialize in developing strategic plans in <insert your market or industry> entities.

Request

I need a strategic plan for <insert your business> to help guide them as they focus on <list any areas of focus>. The plan should help to guide the organization through growth over the next two to three years. Included must be a vision statement, mission statement, list of values, and strategic objectives.

Example

Some problems that they need to solve for are:

  1. List examples of specific issues and concerns
  2. List examples of specific issues and concerns
  3. Continue until complete.

*Adjustments (This part will come into play in Step 2)

This step will come after your initial response, but this is where you can ask it to change the tone, expand on a point, or provide more information.

Tell

Create the strategic plan as a bullet point list of six to eight strategic goals, each with three to five supporting items that can help support the main strategic goals while also including a mission, vision, and values statements.

Extras

Before creating the plan, ask me additional questions to help provide additional insight to make a more complete plan.

Lastly, answer all the questions that ChatGPT asks you before it generates your new material. Have it change, modify, or expand on any materials it created if needed.

Pro Tip: Write your AI prompts with purpose; take a few minutes and write out your prompt before inputting it into ChatGPT.

Step 2: Paste Your AI Prompt into ChatGPT and Adjust your Input

The above template serves as the pre-work. Once you’ve fleshed out your AI prompt using the CREATE acronym, you can input it into ChatGPT to get your first draft. After you get your initial response, don’t forget to adjust your prompt. Including insight from your team is a good practice!

Now, let’s apply a real-time example to see this template in action.

Character

You are an experienced strategic planning consultant who writes short, concise, impactful strategic plans for organizations. You specialize in developing strategic plans for small- to medium-sized government entities.

Request

I need a strategic plan for the County Animal Shelter to help guide them as they focus on an increase in the number of animals in their care each month. The plan should help to guide the Animal Shelter through growth over the next two to three years. A vision statement, mission statement, list of values, and strategic objectives must be included.

Examples

Some problems that they need to solve for are:

  1. The number of dogs surrendered to the shelter has gone up 5% year over year, consistently over the last four years.
  2. There is no longer enough space at the current shelter to house the animals based on population trends.
  3. Adoption rates have decreased relative to the increase in surrendered animals.

Adjustments

Rewrite it with as many cat and animal puns and jokes as possible.

Tell

Create the strategic plan as a bullet point list of six to eight strategic goals, each with three to five sub-items that can help support the main strategic goals.

Extras

Before creating the plan, ask me additional questions to help provide additional insight to make a more complete plan.

Step 3: Answer ChatGPT’s Guiding Questions

ChatGPT will then follow up on your initial request with questions to help guide its response. Here are the questions we were asked based on the example provided above and our responses to the questions.

In your exercise, try to answer as many of the questions as you can that are relevant to your desired output.

  • What is the current capacity of the shelter in terms of animal housing, staff, and budget? Do you have insights into the current resource allocation?

    Answer: We can hold up to 15 dogs and 25 cats. We have a staff of 25 admin and animal handlers and a running team of 30 volunteers. We have an annual budget of $500,000.

  • How engaged is the local community with the shelter’s activities? What are the current efforts in place for community outreach and education regarding pet adoption and responsible pet ownership?

    Answer: We have at least one community-wide adoption event each month and host bi-weekly classes and education events. Our adoption events will have 5-100 attendees. We allocate significant resources to outreach and social media campaigns.

  • Do partnerships with local businesses, veterinary services, or other animal welfare organizations exist? What kind of support do these partnerships provide?

    Answer: Yes, we have partnerships with local vet offices, PetSmart, PetCo, and other local pet shops. We also have a partnership with the local dog parks and parks services. They provide monetary sponsorship of animals, as well as free/discounted health clinics.

  • Could you describe the current adoption process? Are there any specific policies or programs in place to encourage adoption?

    Answer: When an animal is adoptable, we put their profile on our website and social media. People must email us and schedule a meeting with the animal. We ask if they have other pets, and we will coordinate a time for a dog-to-dog or dog-to-cat meeting. We also do a screening and ask a questionnaire about the interested parties’ living situation. When the person is ready to adopt, it is a $150 adoption and admin fee.

  • What does the current volunteer and staff training program look like? Is there a focus on specific skills or knowledge areas?

    Answer: We have volunteers to help with adoption events, and we also run a volunteer program where approved volunteers can take the dogs out of the shelter for walks and hikes. Before approval, the volunteer must have 20 volunteer hours in the shelter before taking the animal out of the shelter.

  • Beyond managing the current increase in animal population, what are the long-term goals for the shelter? For example, is there an interest in expanding services or educational programs?

    Answer: Yes, we’d like to expand our animal housing capacity by 15% and increase our volunteer and outreach by 25% over the next 3 years.

  • Are there any specific challenges or opportunities the shelter currently faces or anticipates in the near future?

    Answer: Some of our most common challenges is limited space and a large stray population. We also had a decrease in funding over the last 4 years.

Step 4: Review the AI-Generated Strategic Plan and Adjust!

After answering the questions to your ability, give ChatGPT time to process. It will then produce a first draft of its output. You can use the ‘Adjustment’ step to prompt further and tweak the response to your satisfaction.

Below is the finalized plan ChatGPT returned to us based on our original AI prompt and answers to the program’s follow-up questions.

Vision Statement

“To be a community-driven, compassionate, and innovative animal shelter dedicated to improving the lives of animals and building a more humane society.”

Mission Statement

“We are committed to providing a safe, caring, and loving environment for animals in need. Through education, adoption, and community engagement, we strive to reduce the number of surrendered animals and ensure every pet finds a loving home.”

Core Values

  • Compassion: We treat every animal with kindness, respect, and empathy.
  • Community: We actively engage with our community to create a more humane environment for animals.
  • Integrity: We uphold the highest standards of ethics, transparency, and accountability.
  • Innovation: We seek creative and effective solutions to improve the welfare of animals.
  • Collaboration: We work collaboratively with partners to achieve our mission.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Increase Animal Housing Capacity:

    Expand the shelter’s capacity by 15% over the next three years to accommodate the growing number of animals.

  2. Enhance Adoption Programs:

    Develop and implement new adoption initiatives to increase adoption rates. Simplify and streamline the adoption process for potential pet owners.

  3. Community Engagement and Education:

    Strengthen community engagement through regular adoption events and educational programs. Utilize social media campaigns to raise awareness about responsible pet ownership.

  4. Partnerships and Support:

    Foster and strengthen partnerships with local businesses, veterinary services, and pet shops. Leverage partnerships with local parks and dog parks for sponsorship and health clinics.

  5. Volunteer and Staff Development:

    Expand the volunteer program and provide training opportunities for volunteers. Invest in staff training to ensure the highest standards of animal care and customer service.

  6. Data and Analytics:

    Implement a robust data tracking and analysis system to monitor animal intake, adoptions, and other key metrics. Use data insights to make informed decisions and improve shelter operations.

  7. Financial Sustainability:

    Develop a long-term fundraising strategy to address the decrease in funding. Explore grant opportunities and diversify funding sources.

  8. Address Stray Population:

    Collaborate with local authorities and organizations to address the issue of stray animals in the community. Implement programs for spaying/neutering and responsible pet ownership.

This strategic plan outlines key goals and actions to guide the County Animal Shelter’s growth and success over the next few years. It addresses the challenges you mentioned and aligns with your long-term goals. Regular monitoring and adjustments will be essential to ensure the plan’s effectiveness.

*Bonus Step 4-A:* Make Adjustments to Your AI Prompt

From here, we can see the details of our original AI prompt and determine if we need to refine it.

Is what ChatGPT returned perfect? No, of course not, but it’s a great start, and the questions it asked should help guide your thoughts.

If you notice any areas you want to explore further or change in some way, then this is now where you can have ChatGPT follow A for Adjustment as needed. Tell it specifically what you want to alter.

For example, maybe now you think of a strategic objective that the original response didn’t cover, and you want to ask it to include “Improving vaccination rates” as a strategic objective.

Or you can ask it to include more cat puns in the mission and vision statement We know this is a silly adjustment prompt, but we wanted to demonstrate a bit of the capability.

Adjustments to Your AI Prompt:

Prompt: This is great, but please rewrite it with as many cat and animal puns and jokes as possible.

ChatGPT: Certainly, let’s add some furry and punny charm to the strategic plan for the County Animal Shelter:

Vision Statement: “To be the ‘purr-fect’ haven for our four-legged friends, where ‘paws-itivity’ reigns, and every ‘paw-tient’ finds their forever ‘tail-wagging’ home.”

Mission Statement: “We are on a ‘pawsome’ mission to give ‘purr-ose’ to the lives of our furry companions. Through ‘purr-suasion,’ ‘pawsomeness,’ and ‘cat-tastic’ community involvement, we’re on a ‘tail-tastic’ journey to reduce the number of ‘unfur-tunate’ surrenders and ensure every pet gets a ‘paw-some’ place to call home.”

Prompt: Can you include one more strategic objective about improving animal vaccination rates?

ChatGPT: Absolutely, let’s add a ‘paws-itively” important objective about improving animal vaccination rates:

  1. Improve Animal Vaccination Rates:

    Promote and ‘purr-suade’ pet owners to ensure their furry friends are up to date on vaccinations. Organize vaccination clinics and educational campaigns to increase vaccination rates in the community.

Step 5: Take the Output Provided and Refine and Finalize with Your Team Based on Your Insight and Experience. This is the most important step!

Now you’ve got a great foundation to build your strategic plan on, but this output provided by ChatGPT is not your final product. ChatGPT is great, no doubt, but it cannot replace years of experience, insight, and personal knowledge of your industry that can only come from the people on your team. Their input is indispensable.

ChatGPT is here to help you do the work. But we at OnStrategy believe the best plans [and the ones that get adopted] are created from the perspectives of our organizations, married with what is happening in an external environment. No matter how sophisticated, AI can’t provide the insight or expertise needed to make a truly actionable plan.

So, take this plan back to your team and have sessions to refine it! Your team will have input and serious revisions to make. Sometimes it’s easier to get the process started when you have something to work from.

Use Your CREATE Outline to Build Consensus

We recommend bringing your ChatGPT outline to your all-hands or department meeting and discussing each point with your team before finalizing your plan.

You can even have different team members do the AI prompt exercise with their insight into the issues to solve, and the team can discuss and choose which ChatGPT responses are most relevant to the organization’s current situation.

Ultimately, strategic planning is meant to lead and solve the issues that affect your organization’s people, and that can’t be done without their input.

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