Each organization's concerns are dictated by whats happening in their everyday environment, and the strategic planning process helps leaders to take a step back from the day-to-day operations in order to identify areas that might need attention.
In our experience, there are two key types of strategic planning that organizations undertake: internal strategic planning for the future and building a competitive strategy for the external marketplace.
Internal Strategic Planning:
The key aspect of strategic planning is aligning all members of the management team with the vision and mission of the organization; both in the short and long term. Once an organization is on the same page as far as where they want to go and what they want to achieve, they then need to create the action plans to get there. In contrast, making decisions that are not directly inline with their goals and objectives, an organization risks wasting valuable time and money.
Strategic planning of this nature can be done by any company at any time. Many organizations work through the process yearly, while others plan more frequently at quarterly or monthly intervals.
Though a complete overhaul of the organizational strategy may only need to be completed yearly, we advocate for quarterly strategy reviews to evaluate prior performance as well as track changes in the business environment.
Depending on the scope of the planning session and the experience in the group, here are some of the things that we at SME Strategy like to cover:
- What is the purpose of the meeting?
- What are we here to do?
- What is the mission and vision of the organization?
- Where are we now?
- Where are we trying to go (and what does success look like)?
- What do we need to do to get there?
- Who is responsible for each action item?
If possible, leave time for key questions and concerns as a group discussion.
In more complex strategy planning sessions we would include: organizational values, a SWOT analysis, and a marketing strategy as part of the implementation.
These sessions can last for one or two days, so making time for team building and brainstorming activities is equally important to running an effective and engaging strategic planning session.
Competitive Strategic Planning:
Once you have a good understanding of what what your organization's mission, vision and values are, you may find your company operating in a highly competitive environment. All companies have competitors, but in some industries, the actions and decisions that your competitors make have a greater impact on how you run your organization.
Competitive strategy requires you to focus part of your attention outside your own organization to what's happening in the external marketplace and guiding your decision making based on your current and desired position within the market.
This may mean:
- increasing product offerings to existing customers
- launching a product into a different market
- increasing current customer revenue
- maintaining existing marketshare
- or other competitive initiatives
Your key decisions are based on both internal factors as well as what your competitors are doing and what you anticipate them to do in the future.
Every company should be aware of their competitors activities, but competitive strategic planning is a focused approach to creating a competitive advantage within the organization, with the goal of increasing market share.
Strategic planning not only helps align your people with your business vision, but it can also help you get a deeper understanding of the current and ever changing environment that your business operates in.
Whether you hire consultants to help facilitate your strategic planning sessions, or you do it on your own, we encourage you to take some time with your team (ideally off-site) and dedicate time to the strategic planning process. You'll find that you'll come out with a better idea of where your company is now and what your vision is for the future. You'll be more prepared for risks and uncertainties, and you'll be able to develop a detailed action plan with responsibilities to help you successfully implement your strategy.
Is your team ready to work through the strategic planning process?
Learn more about how working with a facilitator can increase the value of your next strategy session: