Have you been reading about strategic planning and you're not totally sure about what it is and how to use it? If so, you're in luck. I'm here to explain what strategic planning is and how you can use strategic planning to hit your organization's goals.
What is Strategy? Strategy is the act of making choices, making trade offs and picking the actions that are going to get you to where you want to go in the most effective way possible.
What is Planning? Planning is creating a system and structure for your actions.
Strategic planning is creating a structure for your choices:
It is identifying a goal, creating a plan to get there, and then allocating resources (Time money and people) so that you can achieve your goals.
Knowing what strategic planning is doesn't really help you move forward. What you want to know is how to use strategic planning to your benefit:
Depending on where you're at in the strategic planning process you may want to see the whole process in action. You may also want some best practices for strategic planning, or a strategic planning agenda to lead your strategy meeting yourself.
If you are at the beginning of creating your strategic plan here are 3 steps to consider:
1. Where are you going?
This is the most important part of strategic planning and creating a strategy. If you don't know where you want to go, then it doesn't matter how you get there.
If you're planning your first strategy meeting with your team, get a clear idea of what the successful future will be for your organization.
What is your one, three or five year vision and start there. Once you know where you're going, you can start making a plan to get there.
2. Where are you now?
You might wonder why it's important to figure out where you are now if you're trying to move forward and create this vision with your team. The reason that you look at where you are now is because you need to be able to bridge the gap between where you are now, and where you want to go.
If you want to be at 10 million dollars in revenue in three years and you're at 6 million dollars now, then you need to make a strategy that will generate the difference. However, if you're wanting to go to 10 million dollars in three years and you're at 50 dollars in revenue, then you have a lot more work to do, and it's going to take a very different strategy to reach that same goal.
In essence, knowing where you're at is equally important as where you want to go.
3. Get your team on board!
One you know where you want to go, and where you are at now, you will need to collaborate with your team to decide how to get there. You'll notice that the section is titled: Get your on board (not make a plan). This is because you can make a great plan, but if your team is not on board with it, you will be much less effective.
The great part about strategic planning is that it's done as a team because it usually involves all departments in an organization. Whether it's the board of directors, the department heads, or team members with different backgrounds, strategic planning is done as a group and takes into consideration everyone's skills, aptitudes and preferences in order to move forward successfully.
If you make your strategic plan and simply "tell" your team where you are going, you will have some success, because you're taken the time to create a future vision, and you've made a plan to get there. You will achieve much higher results though if you create that plan together, onboard your team, creating more engagement, more participation, better results, and more fun.
Just like you can go on a trip and take the bus, a car or a plane; the way you structure your strategic plan will determine how successful you'll be in hitting your goals.
So: What is strategic planning?
It's the steps and process that you create to make your goals a reality.
Pick your destination, look at where you are now, and make a plan to bridge the gap. Get your team together, and get to work on making your dreams come true.
If you want to learn how to create a complete strategic plan with your team, take our video course.