Strategic planning is the process of creating a vision for your business’s future and determining how you will get there. It includes defining your business’s direction, ideal customers and competitors and outlining goals and strategies for reaching those objectives. A well-formed plan also includes identifying business metrics for measuring progress toward your goals. A strategic planning process should be a continuous, ongoing activity that incorporates the participation of all members of your staff – from frontline employees to executives and even outside advisors.
It’s important to involve the right people in your strategic planning process to ensure everyone’s opinions are heard and that your final strategy reflects a broad range of perspectives. A team that’s too small can lead to a narrow focus and a plan that fails to take into account the realities of your business environment.
Identify a strategic planning committee that includes owners, leadership and key staff. The strategic management group should meet regularly throughout the year to discuss the company’s direction, competitive advantage and growth potential. The committee will work together to hammer out high-level strategic principles and then set objectives and actions that will help the company achieve those goals. A strategic planning committee may also choose to use one of many methodologies or frameworks as guidance for its work.
Once you’ve agreed on your long-term plans, record them in a strategic plan that can be shared across departments. Then determine how you will cascade the plan down to the level of functional area managers and individual contributors. This may mean developing a new set of short-term goals and actions that align with the organizational direction, or it may be as simple as ensuring that existing operational, business and account plans are synced up with the strategic plan.
A well-formed strategic plan is designed to be used as a guide for daily decisions. It helps managers and individuals understand why a particular decision is being made and how it fits into the bigger picture of the company’s direction. This will help employees make more informed choices in the face of day-to-day challenges.
Many strategic plans fail to reach their full potential because they are not communicated adequately or because the underlying motivations behind the plan aren’t understood or supported by employees. A professional facilitator can help guide the planning process, making sure that all viewpoints are considered and that a final plan is practical and useful to the company. A skilled facilitator can also act as a company’s “strategic conscience” by reminding employees of the big-picture goals that they need to keep in mind. They can also help keep the company on track once the strategic planning process is complete. Strategic planning is an essential part of running a successful business. Taking the time to plan effectively will enable your business to grow in ways that are consistent with your company’s culture and values, while keeping up with the competition. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your strategic plan has the power to succeed.