Strategic Planning Overview

Having a clear strategic direction and strategic plan with a focused implementation process in place is important. Business success isn’t going to happen by accident. You must look into the future and create a plan for wherever you’re trying to go.

What will your business be like in three years? Do you have a road map to get from today to your envisioned tomorrow? Will you be a few steps closer to realizing your vision by next year? No one can predict the future. But if you don’t change anything, the future won’t be any different than the past.

One sure-fire way to impact your company’s future (and profitability) is to dust off a timeless tool — the strategic plan — and intentionally drive your organization forward. No one strategic model fits all organizations, but the planning process includes certain basic elements that all businesses can use to explore their vision, goals, and next steps of an effective strategic plan. A good strategic plan achieves the following:

  • Reflects the values of the organization

  • Inspires action to achieve a big future

  • Explains how you’ll win in the market

  • Clearly defines the criteria for achieving success

  • Guides everyone in daily decision making

Effective leaders aren’t sitting around waiting for something to happen. They’re anticipating what lies ahead. Managers and business owners aren’t waiting for their competitors to swoop in and put them out of business. Instead, they’re using their strategic plans to get ahead of the game.

So the fact that many people avoid strategic planning because they consider it complex, costly, and time-intensive is just odd. Most of the time, businesses shelve the plan before it can be implemented, even knowing that some other company may invade their market.

Consider the following statistics from the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative:

  • 95 percent of a typical workforce doesn’t understand its organization’s strategy.

  • 90 percent of organizations fail to execute strategies successfully.

  • 86 percent of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy.

  • 60 percent of organizations don’t link strategy to budgeting.

So what’s the upshot of these surprising revelations? Strategic planning matters to the life of your business.

Strategic planning doesn’t have to be mysterious, complicated, or time-consuming. In fact, it should be quick, simple, and easily executed. And strategic planning isn’t just something you cross off your list of to-dos — you must create a culture of strategic thinking, so your strategic planning doesn’t become an annual retreat but, instead, a part of daily decision making.

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