How to Get Started with Strategic Planning – Part 1

What is Strategic Planning?  

Glad you asked. It’s a process that helps you know where you stand, clarifies where you should go, and creates a detailed plan on how to get there. Qualified consultants navigate leaders and teams through creating core objectives, leading to greater alignment, growth, and confidence. Although there are many good programs out there, I use the StratOp system to help executives gain transformational perspective on the operational and financial aspects of their organization.

Whether you’re a large or small business, a corporation or a nonprofit, it’s vital to have a detailed plan. Whatever process you choose, your strategic planning process will contain some variation of the following 5 components.

Here’s an overview on how to write a strategic business plan:

  1. Gather the facts. Start by collecting all relevant information on past performance and a snapshot of where you are today.
  2. Create a Mission & Vision Statement. Define your organization’s purpose and primary objectives. Describe what you do and why.
  3. Pinpoint your strategic objectives. Define business goals and priorities. These targets will inform how you utilize your resources and budget.
  4. Determine action steps. Your short-term tactical plans will guide you to measurable results. They cover all departments and functions.
  5. Review your performance. It’s vital to continually check your results against your written action plans and vision statements.

It’s often helpful to look at existing strategic plan examples or ask your consultant for a strategic plan sample. For instance, before working with a local retailer or manufacturer, I will show them a strategic plan template for small business. If you need one, feel free to contact me.

What Steps are included in Strategic Planning?

I’m often asked, “What should be in a strategic plan?” and “What does a good strategic plan look like?” No two systems are exactly the same, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Fortunately, any reputable consultant will always explain the steps involved in the strategic planning process.

Virtually all the major programs start by walking their clients through an alignment process aimed at focus and clarity. For example, the StratOp system that I use begins with a 3-day interaction to gain insights into the present and vision for the future.

Before creating a business strategy, a StratOp facilitator like myself conducts a 6-step process:

  • Perspective – Where are we now?
  • Planning – Where are we headed?
  • Action – What’s important now?
  • Structure – What form is needed?
  • Management – How are we doing?
  • Renewal – What must change?

Regardless of the exact format, a good strategic plan should include a strategic plan outline that’s purposefully crafted to deliver measurable results, a detailed strategic planning worksheet to keep teams on the same page, and regular follow-up meetings with their consultant.

What is your Mission and your Vision? 

“Refresh the world. Make a difference.” With just six words, Coca Cola expresses both its Mission Statement (to refresh people in body and spirit) and its Vision (to make a positive impact on the world).

In general, a Mission Statement defines a company’s business, its goals, and its approach to reaching those goals.

In general, a Vision Statement defines how and where the company sees itself in the future.

They often overlap to express a group’s mission, vision and values.

Having a strategic vision for a company is essential. Starbucks’ Mission Statement is clear and strong: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

Then, Starbucks goes beyond its strategic mission to express its Vision by listing its core values. For example, “Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.” These value-vision extensions of their Mission Statement explain how they focus on customers, how they grow their company, and how they treat employees.

How to write a Mission and Vision statement.

Don’t go it alone. Start by brainstorming with leaders and team members. Tell them that developing a Mission Statement is a group-think and should describe the overall purpose of your organization. Be sure your Mission Statement describes what you do, who you do it for, and the benefit it provides. Keep it short enough to easily memorize.

For example, Steve Jobs briefly and brilliantly described Apple’s Mission back in 1980: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

When developing a Vision, remember it mostly pertains to where the organization hopes they’ll be going in the future. The “forward-looking” statement of vision should provide guidance and inspiration for your current and future teams. Retail giant IKEA expresses theirs like this, “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people.”

Have these guidelines in mind when you’re crafting your Mission, Vision and Values: Keep it short, truthful, and to the point. Make it aspirational but doable. Keep it original. Make it specific to your organization.

Above all, when creating a Mission and Vision statement, remember the difference between the two. Using Google as an example is helpful:

Their Mission Statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Their Vision Statement is to “provide an important service to the world-instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.”

Remember, the best Mission and Vision statements serve multiple functions, define objectives, and motivate people. One of the most helpful steps in crafting them is to start with a SWOT analysis. In my next posting, I’ll share exactly what that is.

Meanwhile, feel free to contact me with any questions so far!