Dwight Eisenhower once said, “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.” Eisenhower was a smart man: planning is indeed everything. Too often I see clients get wrapped up in the plan, or the document itself, which is an important deliverable. But the more important aspect, in my opinion, is the process and the thinking that’s done in the creation of the plan. When we engage in a strategic planning process we are honing our ability to see the forest through the trees, to explore innovative ideas, and more importantly to challenge our current processes, practice and strategies. Strategic planning is about unearthing alternative approaches, finding new solutions or methods and ensuring our organizations’ long-term viability and success.
There are three big stages to any strategy planning process:
- Strategy Development
- Strategy Execution
- Strategy Review
If we break this down even further strategy development consists of:
- Laying the groundwork by establishing a strategic planning team and schedule, and conducting a gap analysis;
- Crafting mission, vision, and values statements, which create the pillars of any strategic plan;
- Conducting a “SPOT” analysis to determine our internal strengths and problems, and explore external opportunities and threats;
- Creating goals and strategies based on our strategic value proposition;
- Developing a measurement tool or scorecard to track the progress of our goals; and finally
- Writing and communicating the plan to staff, stakeholders, and other interested groups.
It’s only after we’ve walked through these six steps that I think we are prepared to engage and execute our plan. But the process doesn’t end there. Best business practice would recommend that we review our plan and our progress monthly. The most important thing to remember is a strategic plan is a working document that should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis. For more information on our approach to strategic planning, please see our guide.