Strategic planning is a process by which leaders of an organization develop a long-term vision for their company or service and generate short-term goals, objectives and strategies to achieve that vision. Successful companies often have effective strategies that allow them to keep moving forward, even in the face of changing or unanticipated conditions. Taking time to create a strategy may not be easy, but developing one can help a business remain resilient and competitive in the face of industry change or economic hardship.
Strategic planners typically gather a wide range of information about the current business environment to identify problems and opportunities. This could include interviews, data analysis, surveys, focus groups and internal or external benchmarking. Some organizations choose to bring in outside consultants for this phase of the process. The results of this information gathering and analysis should be documented in a strategic plan document that includes both problems and opportunities.
This preparation step is critical to a successful strategy development process. It helps a business create an accurate picture of its position in the market and customer insight to guide subsequent decision-making. It also sets the tone for a new direction by creating one common vision that managers can unite around. Without this, individual managers may make decisions that conflict with each other or counteract the company’s overall strategic objectives.
Once a strategic plan has been developed, it is important to communicate it to employees throughout the business. This will help to ensure that all staff understand the reasoning behind the decision-making and will feel confident in making their own contributions to the strategic process. This communication will also help to reduce the impact of cognitive bias, which may be influenced by emotions and prior experiences.
When a business is growing, it can be difficult to find time to spend on strategic planning. However, it is essential to the company’s long-term success. Strategic planning can help to set the company on a course that will allow it to remain resilient, competitive and profitable in the face of industry change or economic difficulties.
Once a strategic plan has been implemented, it is important to monitor the results. It can be helpful to hold a monthly strategy meeting with key members of the team to discuss progress toward the identified goals and responsibilities. These meetings can be as brief as 30 to 60 minutes and will allow for each member of the team to report on the metrics they are responsible for and how they are tracking against established targets. These meetings can be used to identify any adjustments that need to be made to the strategic plan. These adjustments may be as simple as adding a new metric to track or they might require major changes to the existing strategy. Either way, a consistent approach to strategic planning will result in a more resilient and profitable business. To learn more about creating a strategic plan, download our free eBook.