Growing a business means planning for your success and considering all aspects of the business to optimize growth, retention. From sales and marketing to team retention, operational efficiency, you need all. Creating a strategic plan is a key component of planning for growth. It will help you prepare a realistic vision for the future of your business and in doing so can maximise your business’ potential for growth.
A strategic plan should not be confused with a business plan. A business plan is about setting short- or mid-term goals and defining the steps necessary to achieve them. A strategic plan is typically focused on a business’ mid- to long-term goals and explains the basic strategies for achieving them. The focus is on the implementation. It’s your blueprint for action.
Often, having neutral professional help from outside your organisation helps to bring new thinking and a different perspective to add value to your strategic planning process.
Strategic Planning Process
- Successes and results from past strategic plans, environmental scans, and staff surveys
- PESTLE: Outside of your business, there are many factors that affect how you can do business, competitors being one, but also the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental climates that your organization or business operates in.
- SWOT: Throughout the strategic planning process, you’ll also have to identify internal processes and situations that may affect where you go in the future (strengths and weaknesses). There are also external factors that might affect your business strategy (opportunities and threats).
- These “inputs” are the ingredients to your successful strategic plan. The right information will help you make the right decisions, so gather and assess carefully. Once you know where you are at as an organization, and what’s going on in the world outside of your organization, then you can start to figure out where you’re going.
- Where are you going? What does winning look like?
- There’s one thing to have a vision statement, and it’s another to have a very clear vision of the future, like a blueprint to a house. This is the foundation of your strategic plan.
- As an organization (for-profit, non-profit, government, growing startup, etc.), what are you building, and what is that rallying point for your people?
- Spending the time to get agreement and alignment on this future is key, because otherwise each individual will be following their own destination of success.
- Another way to think of your vision is: “If success was a place, how would we know if we got there”
- What is your purpose? Why do you exist? What do you do, and who do you do it for?
- This is an opportunity to focus your energy on a specific set of stakeholders (staff, shareholders, board, customers, etc). If you had to dedicate the majority of your resources to a group, who would it be? This is a tough question because the tendency is to say: “everyone”.
- Your mission is the key driver in accomplishing your vision. It’s your: HOW
- If you want to find the number one contributor to a successful organization, it’s having values that are understood and agreed on.
- Values create a set of behaviours that everyone on the organization can count on and expect.
- It’s like having everyone playing by the same rules that clearly identify how you can be successful. You want your people to feel successful and fulfilled in their jobs? Live, eat and breathe your values so they know how they can contribute to making the organization a success.
Competition, Risks and Road blocks
- You didn’t think it was going to be that easy did you? There will always be things that will get in your way of success. If you take the time to identify scenarios, what the impact of specific roadblocks happening will be, and what you’re going to do to mitigate these risks, you are less likely to be caught off guard.
- You can look at incorporating a risk register or scenario planning as frameworks to help you manage these risks and uncertainties.
Strategic Priorities, Goal, Strategies and Tactics
- This is where you can tie into the big picture thinking into action items as part of your strategic planning process.
- Strategic priorities are a handful of areas that will make the most amount of progress towards accomplishing your vision.
- Want to increase the focus of your strategic planning? Focus on the right strategic priorities.
- Once you have your strategic priorities, find a way to measure its success. Think of it as moving it from its current state: X, to its future state: Y by a certain date. From X to Y by DATE
- Then you make the individual action steps that are going to contribute to the accomplishment of that goal. Check out this article if you want some ideas on what strategic priorities to pick as part of your strategic plan.
- This is where you’ll make your plan as a team to communicate your strategic plan, and the things that you’re going to get people bought in to your plan.
- Remember how we mentioned that a shelf plan is not very useful, and that making sure you keep your strategic plan and strategic priorities at the top of mind is key; this is where you do that.
- Audio, video, meetings, whatever you need to do: Let people know where the organization is going, and how they can contribute to making that plan a success.
- Communication goes both ways. You’ll have better buy-in if you listen as well as speak. That’s the difference between pushing a plan on people, versus pulling them towards you and inspiring them to want to contribute.
Strategic Planning Step 8: Action plan
- Implementation is where most organizations falter, so a strong action plan is needed.
- Now that you know where you’re going, and how you’re going to measure your success, do the things that are going to move the needle on the success of your strategic plan.
Big picture thinking is the easy part of the strategic planning process. What’s a little harder is the implementation of the strategic plan in practice. Most organizations fail at implementing their strategic plans – 71% failure rate.
The strategic planning process might seem pretty simple at first, but the intricacies of people and the moving parts of most businesses make planning a crucial but also challenging art form. Combining effective long range planning, with short term implementation is a skill of great managers and great leaders.
8 Reasons to Use a Facilitator
1. Everyone can participate.
If you’re the leader of a team, you can’t lead your team and facilitate a conversation at the same time. People won’t speak freely, and you won’t get the information you desire from the meeting.
If you’re busy facilitating the meeting, you can’t listen to what others are saying and fully be present in the conversation. Having a facilitator will allow better conversations and better participation from everyone.
2. We have a specialized process.
All we do is strategic planning. Our process (a combination of experience, best practices and management science) is designed to get buying and agreement quickly, while incorporating all aspects of business strategy so that your team can be on the same page and make the best decisions for your company as possible.
3. We can ask the right questions to get to the heart of the issues.
Having a facilitator creates a safe space for people to ask questions that get to the root of issues without having their concerns come out as personal attacks. This way the important topics get covered to a level of satisfaction for the whole group.
We also don’t know what’s considered taboo in the culture and have no power dynamics to avoid; Our job is to get all the information on the table that’s relevant to the future of the organization, and we can do that by asking the relevant questions, and probe more deeply if needed.
4. We’re neutral to the decisions.
Our main focus is creating a powerful discussion about the present and future of the organization and to bring those issues to completion; By approaching the discussions in an objective manner, we don’t have to worry about getting our way, or having a decision go one way or another.
5. A facilitator sets the tone.
By having a facilitator come into your organization, it shows the rest of the participants as well as your staff that you’re investing in the future and the well being of your organization.
You’re committed to having everyone in the organization contribute to the future, and the first step is bringing in someone to facilitate that process.
6. We control the time and the conversation
One of the roles of the facilitator is to ensure people stay on task and speak about relevant topics. If you stray from current discussion or waste valuable time, the facilitator will interject and get the conversation back on track.
This is slightly harder to do when there are power dynamics at play and management is leading the session.
7. We’re used to dealing with people.
We’re used to dealing with people (lots of them).
Our job is to manage people and make sure communication lines are open for everyone. Our job is also to ensure all participants participate (Crazy right?). We’re always aware of who’s contributing, who’s just talking, and who’s not saying anything.
While not everyone contributes equally, their insights are valued if they were invited to the meeting.
8. You can get more done by using someone external to make the first move.
As strategic planning facilitators, we won’t be the ones leading the change in your organization on a day to day basis. We do, however, set your team up to realize:
- What they need to do to create that change
- Why that change needs to happen now
- How each employee contributes to the success of your organization
- The next steps and easy wins to get the
- And much more.
Using a professional facilitator who understands business strategy as well as how the people within them operate will help bring your organization to a new level in teamwork and effectiveness.
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