Strategic planning is an important tool that allows a business to set goals and develop a roadmap for the future. The process can take from a few weeks to a few months depending on the size and complexity of the organization. It is crucial that the process be well managed to ensure it is effective. There are many different tools, templates and frameworks available to assist in strategic planning. The key is to find the right fit for the needs of your organization.
The first step in strategic planning is gathering information and conducting research. This can include interviews, data analysis, focus groups and surveys. Gathering this information helps to identify current and potential future business issues, as well as opportunities. It also helps to establish the company’s competitive position.
After the research is complete, the team should decide on a vision for the company. It should be a statement that captures the essence of the business, its values and where it wants to go in the future. The plan should then be broken down into smaller goals and strategies to achieve that vision. This is where it can be helpful to bring in an external facilitator to guide the group and keep it on track.
Another important step is identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses. This can be done by interviewing employees and customers, reviewing financial reports and analyzing industry data. It is critical that the organization’s perspective on its strengths and weaknesses is unbiased. The goal is to identify the areas that will require the most focus and effort to achieve success.
Once the goals and strategies are determined, it is time to make the plan executable. Often this will mean assigning responsibilities to specific people and setting up timelines for implementation of the strategy. It is also important to schedule monthly meetings to discuss progress on the implementation of the strategy. This will help to keep everyone on track to meet their goals and maintain a focused approach to the business.
While there are many different approaches to strategic planning, the one common denominator is that it should be a continual process. Companies that do not commit to the process and fall out of the habit will struggle to maintain a clear direction for their business and will be more likely to fail to reach their strategic objectives. The best way to avoid this is to make a commitment to the process and hold regular meetings. It is also a good idea to hire an outside facilitator, which will ensure that the process is productive and will result in a real business plan that can be used to help the organization succeed.