Key Elements to a Strategic Plan

According to research conducted by office supply chain Staples, 63% of small business owners don’t have a 5-year plan.  This is just one of the many data points that point to a problem with business owners and managers today: Lack of Strategic Planning. As I have interacted with executives at large and small companies, it seems to me that there are a variety of reasons for the lack effective strategic planning.  Forbes cites the following reasons…

  • Having a plan for plan’s sake
  • Lack of understanding the environment
  • Not focusing on results
  • Half hearted commitment
  • Not having the right people involved
  • Writing the plan, then putting it on the shelf
  • Unwillingness to change
  • Wrong people in leadership
  • Ignoring reality
  • No accountability or follow through
  • Unrealistic goals, lack of focus and resources

And yet, companies that develop a strategic plan, and follow it excel.  A variety of commercial and academic studies support the notion that if a plan is developed AND implemented, organizational performance improves. Strategic planning…

  • Serves as a framework for decision making
  • Provides a foundation for more detailed planning
  • Can used as a way to quickly explain the business to others (executives, funding sources, partners, etc.)
  • Assists in measuring performance
  • Stimulates growth, and becomes a building block for future planning.

Even though the year has started, it’s not too late to develop your plan.  To do so, dedicate the time and resources necessary (this cannot be a “task list” item). For small to medium sized companies, the best way to develop a plan is to schedule a time with key team members to discuss and “whiteboard” the plan together. (If necessary, have an objective third party facilitate these sessions).

Your plan should…

  • Focus on your external audience, not just the internal one
  • Articulate your organization’s Vision, Mission and Value Proposition
  • Include strategies that are tied to Vision, Mission, and Objectives
  • Include tactical elements (an action plan)
  • Provide a roadmap
  • Have built in management and accountability mechanisms
  • Create excitement

Elements of a strategic plan should include…

  • Business Objectives
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Vision, Mission, Corporate Praxis (Values)
  • Key Strategies
  • Major Milestones
  • Strategic Action Programs

It was once said that “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Make this year the year you plan to succeed.