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Review the Past to Create a Strategic Plan for the Future

You can move faster into the future by avoiding roadblocks and pitfalls you’ve already encountered to identify strategic issues you need to address during your planning process. Strategic issues are critical unknowns that are driving you to embark on a strategic planning process now. These issues can be problems, opportunities, market shifts, or anything else that’s keeping you awake at night and begging for a solution or decision.

Look at your past performance and the marketplace to uncover your strategic issues. You don’t have to spend too much time wandering down memory lane, but taking a few hours by yourself or with your team to work through the exercises in this chapter may pay high rewards in the future.

With a short list of strategic issues that you want to solve during this process, you’re able to develop a strategic plan that addresses what’s critical to your organization right now.

Because you’re not a new organization, you’ve accumulated invaluable information about your past activities, customers, employees, and financials that can help prevent do-overs. Tap in to that invaluable resource to review last year’s performance, including dusting off last year’s strategic plan. Ideally, you’ve been using it monthly or quarterly, so carrying key items forward should be simple.

As a first step in your strategic planning process, review the last year. Conduct the review either individually, by requesting that employees respond to the set of questions, or as a group, by facilitating the discussion in a regularly scheduled staff meeting.

After you’ve identified your successes and failures, look at what goals and objectives continue into the current planning year. Create a notes page and label it “Goals and Objectives,” and then start a list of potential items you want to include in this year’s plan.

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