Smart, practical planning is vital to any major endeavor. If you’re serious about accomplishing an objective, you need a strategy, and a plan to carry it out. World record holder Michael Phelps wouldn’t have earned the distinction of being the most decorated Olympian of all time if he hadn’t had a training strategy, and strictly followed the carefully formulated training program that went with it.
The same concept and pattern apply in business of any kind. Having a well-thought-out strategy and strategic plan enables you to:
- Review and evaluate your current position. Strategic planning includes evaluating your company’s capabilities and how it’s faring in the competitive marketplace. As you execute your plan, you can periodically compare where you stand with where you should be, according to the plan – and then act based on what you find: remedying shortfalls and reinforcing areas where you’ve exceeded expectations.
- Set goals and objectives. A clear vision helps the company coordinate its actions, make decisions, keep oriented and focused – and it can give team members a worthwhile purpose for showing up every day, and performing at their best.
- Allocate resources effectively. With a strategic plan, funds, time, personnel and other vital resources can be more intelligently and effectively allocated.
- Prepare for challenges. A plan gears up the team to face market competition, weather economic downturns, follow and take advantage of customer trends, and successfully meet threats that may pop up before they through the organization off track or out of balance.
What to Include in a Strategic Plan
There’s no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes a strategic plan, but below you’ll see a list of what one is typically composed of. Beside each major element, you’ll see a question; it’s meant to guide you in creating your own plan. The details in this section have been adapted from the Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies Cheat Sheet.
- Mission – Why do you exist as an organization?
- Vision – How do you see your company in five years?
- Values – What principles shape your company’s strategy?
- SWOT – What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Competitive advantage – What makes you stand out from the competition?
- Long-term strategic objectives – What will you focus on, to achieve your vision?
- Strategies – What methods will you use to achieve your vision?
- Short-term goals – How will you convert your strategic objectives into measurable performance targets?
- Action plans – What concrete steps will you take to achieve your goals?
- Scorecard – What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will you use to measure your work output?
- Financial assessment – How will your organization perform financially in the future?
Download Free Strategic Plan Slide Templates
Some companies shelve their strategic plans once they’ve formulated them. They fail to share their planning with their teams – the very people who are expected to execute the plans! This is a big no-no; in fact, it’s one of the main reasons plans fail. When all team members are not on the same page with management, when they don’t understand how their everyday tasks help the organization, plans—no matter how well-conceptualized—are difficult to execute, and goals are difficult to attain.
If you’ve gone to all the work of developing a strategy, finalizing it and getting it approved, share it! Put the details together in a presentation and share it with the whole team. Make sure they understand it, and are willing to do their parts to carry it out and reach its objectives. Ideally, they shouldn’t just be willing – they should be excited!
To help make you put together a presentation that’s worthy of all your planning efforts, we’ve created a Strategic Plan PowerPoint template deck. You can download it free, right here – then customize it to reflect your company’s branding.