Strategic Planning: A Process to Success

 Did you know that October is International Strategic Planning Month?  Not a widely celebrated event—I doubt even Hallmark has cards to mark this momentous occasion.  However, it is the time of year when most business executives focus on the upcoming year—-whether they call it strategic planning, forecasting, or some other phrase.  Will your planning be a scary trick or a pleasant treat? An October surprise? Or will you spend time reviewing last year’s plan (you do have that, right?), adjusting where necessary, and developing your 2014 Strategic Plan?

Strategic planning isn’t just what pops out of people’s heads in water-cooler or break room conversations (even though those ideas can certainly help).  Strategic planning is the intentional and deliberate process of reviewing the business for new ideas and business decision-making. It’s important for there to be a process behind the ideas.

As strategic planners, we have some tips for you to help you on the way to develop your plan.  Use the following to ensure that strategies are consistent with the company’s intention.

  • The determined strategies agree with the organization’s mission and vision.
  • The strategies set expectations to accomplish the determined goals for the organization.
  • Strategic planning is using real information to determine future plans. This process is only as logical and useful as the information being used for consideration.
  • A company can’t afford to be narrow minded in its thinking.  Be open to multiple alternatives and be flexible in making strategic choices to meet a range of scenarios. Have a ‘Plan B’ in the wings.
  • Effective strategy allows a company to determine its priorities and resources.  There will always be new and different opportunities presenting themselves.  Maintaining focus on effective strategy will provide the direction needed to the overall organization.
  • Leaders know that in large, complex organizations a strategy must be a team effort.  There needs to be consensus, with multiple points of view and open discussion so all involved feel they have a direct stake in what’s happening. Trust is imperative to strategic planning!
  • There has to be involvement from various levels of the organization.  It is when everyone is on the same course that the organization can achieve the desired outcome in the manner identified through its mission and vision for its culture.
  • Adaptable: Every strategy, every game plan needs to be adaptable.  The market and the environment change, and a company must be able to read those changes and recalibrate strategy to fit a fluid situation.  The business environment is littered with the wreckage of companies who couldn’t adapt and didn’t survive.
  • The strategies identified must be implementable.  Strategic planning is not just an annual exercise.  It is only productive when the thinking, planning, and discussions result in an actionable plan that can be implemented, observed, measured, and tweaked along the way.

Strategic planning allows an organization to set a course, detour when necessary, but build momentum with intention.  It is the company that takes the time and effort to strategically plan for their organization’s well-being that will be in the race for the long haul. Remember, you will never have a “perfect” plan.  A strategic plan is an active document that can be updated as your business changes.  As a familiar saying goes: “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

We can help you develop a plan that meets your goals and expectations, and one that help you avoid the pitfalls of not being prepared and proactive in your business. Give us a call to schedule a time to meet.