Strategic planning involves thinking beyond day-to-day operations and setting overall goals for the future of your business. It also requires an investment of time and resources to develop a plan to reach those goals, but the payoff can be significant for businesses that make it a regular part of their operational process. Strategic planning allows you to take a step back and look at the big picture, so that instead of continually reacting to market trends and putting out fires, your team can focus on making measurable progress toward achieving your vision for the company for years to come.
The first step in strategic planning is to analyze the current position of your business, including your strengths and weaknesses, and the likelihood of growth within your industry. This is usually done through an environmental assessment and the involvement of employees, customers and other stakeholders in the process.
Developing a strategic plan can involve identifying and analyzing many aspects of your company, so you may need to seek help from outside consultants or strategists. This can be an excellent way to ensure that your planning is thorough and that you get the best possible results from the exercise. However, it’s important to keep in mind that an expert can quickly become a costly overhead, so you need to choose wisely.
Once you’ve completed the analysis and consulted with your team, you’re ready to move on to the second step in the process. This is where you identify the strategic goals and initiatives that will help you achieve your desired future state, as well as a timeline to do so. A common framework for this is the Theory of Change, which helps you map out the steps needed to reach your long-term goals.
This step is also where you develop an action plan for the achievement of your strategic goals and initiatives, and determine how they will be measured. You’ll need to assign specific responsibilities and budgets with deadlines for each objective. This is a great opportunity to create alignment between departmental leaders and help everyone feel more connected to the organization’s direction.
Finally, you’ll need to communicate your strategic plans and review them on a regular basis. It’s important to keep the planning process moving forward, so it doesn’t get stuck in a rut. Having a regular planning process also gives your organization the flexibility to adjust to changes in the business environment and make adjustments to your strategy as necessary.
Strategic planning is a powerful tool for any growing business, but it can be easy to fall into the trap of becoming overly focused on the day-to-day demands of your operation and not setting aside enough time for strategic planning. By following the steps in this article, you can develop a strong strategic plan that will guide your organization and help you meet your business objectives. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive free Lucidchart templates and tips on effective visual planning.