If your company is doing what its always done, it may be losing its competitive advantage from both a customer and employment perspective. Never before in our world’s history have there been so many changes and uncertainties. The way in which you manage these changes affect your organizational performance.
You can “wait and see” what happens but often times, this reactive approach costs the company time and money. Plus it causes your stakeholders to feel more confused and frustrated. Strategic planning, on the other hand, is a proactive way to evaluate your current situation, anticipate changes, then make thoughtful decisions and chart a course of action. The importance of this process is that it enables you to shape your organization’s future rather than simply to respond to its future.
The most successful strategic planning process involves the right people in the right way. As an example, a planning team of 15-20 leaders is assembled to initiate and monitor the process. This group is responsible for evaluating the internal and external aspects of the business, establish, monitor and update the strategic plan
Key employees and customers may also become involved and provide feedback and suggestions. Using an unbiased, knowledgeable facilitator will help you to manage the agenda and maximize everyone’s contribution to the process. We have streamlined the development process for our clients into a 1-2 day meeting we refer to as a Protreatsm, as pro-active way of managing the business.
Strategic planning is not a one-time occurrence. The fact that strategic planning is a continuous, ongoing process is as important as the plan itself. To be most effective, you’ll need to incorporate the planning process into your way of doing business. Ideally, the strategic plan should be completed prior to beginning the budget process so that financial provisions can be made for the actions identified within the plan.
There are numerous benefits from this dynamic process, such as:
- Increase market share
- Improve customers’ satisfaction
- Motivate and retain employees
- Strengthen management’s effectiveness
- Build teamwork
- Improve decision making
We use a 10-step strategic planning process within a 4-phase pyramid to demonstrate the importance of establishing a solid foundation from which good decisions can be made. Each phase answers a specific question:
Phase IV How are we doing? Step 10
Phase III How do we get there? Steps 8-9
Phase II Where are we going? Steps 5-7
Phase I Where are we now? Steps 1-4
Step 1 – Plan to Plan
This first step initiates and outlines the strategic planning process, which begins by scheduling your Pro-treatsm…the first, 1-2 day meeting with your planning team and begin gathering appropriate information.
Step 2 – External Analysis
The goal of this step is to gather information to understand your competition, industry changes, regulatory implications, the economy, and the demographics of your target market.
Step 3 – Internal Analysis
The purpose of this step is to gather information to understand the strengths and weaknesses within your organization.
Step 4 – Strategic Issues
The final step in phase one summarizes “Where are you now?” by creating a list of the 5-7 top strategic issues currently facing the organization. Some of the most recent, common issues we’ve helped our clients to identify include:
- Recruit, train, and retain quality team members.
- Enhance financial stability.
- Provide quality services that meet the changing needs of current and future customers.
Step 5 – Mission & Vision Formulation
Step five clarifies the purpose of your company and creates the vision for its future. The mission is a single sentence of no more than 25-30 words that is easy for everyone to understand and remember. It describes what your organization does, whom you serve, and what makes your organization unique. To create your vision, the planning team uses its creativity to describe what you’d like your organization to be recognized for in the future.
Step 6 – Philosophy Formulation
The third guiding statement identifies your values and describes your promise to key stakeholders. This is one of the most difficult steps because it requires an in-depth analysis of your culture.
Step 7 – Develop Strategic Action Plans
The last part of phase two articulates “where you are going” by developing an action plan to address each strategic issue.
Step 8 – Strategic Plan Roll-out
Communication is critical for the initial and ongoing support for the strategic plan. During step 8, your planning team will meet with key stakeholders to explain the plan and request their support and help to implement the plan.
Step 9 – Implement Action Plans
The ideas communicated within your strategic plan are simply words on paper unless action is taken. By completing the last step, you will schedule time to review and recognize progress. In addition, the decisions made and projects identified in the strategic plan should be reflected in your budget process.
Step 10 – Monitor Progress
The last step in the strategic planning process is the single most important step to making strategic planning a process instead of just an event. The purpose of this final step is to integrate the plan into the day-to-day priorities of each department.
The Bottom Line
Even though the strategic planning process may seem overwhelming and arduous, it is one of the most important and beneficial projects your company can undertake. You will share a wealth of knowledge, clarify what matters most to your stakeholders, and develop a roadmap for your future success.
Certified Speaking Professional, consultant, and best-selling author, Michele is a dynamic and highly sought-after expert on organizational and talent development. Each year, she inspires the attitudes and actions of thousands of people with strategic planning, leadership development and customer service training throughout Iowa and the United States.
She is a Past-President of the ATD-Iowa chapter and was awarded its first “Impact to Business” in 2011.
Since 1991 Ms. Matt has been one of 1,800 Wiley Partners who help clients world-wide utilize Everything DiSC training products.
She’s recently become an accredited facilitator for “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” based upon the New York Times Best Selling book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.
She has earned the Certified Speaking Professional from the National Speakers Association, a designation earned by fewer than 700 professional speakers worldwide.