When you’re the leader of a team, whether it’s a team of 10 or a team of 10,000, it’s critical to be grounded in the present, but also to keep one eye cast toward the future. Simply put, you’re in it for the long haul. You want the team to thrive not just today, but tomorrow. That’s what makes strategic planning so important. It’s all about establishing your team and your business for long-term success.
This is one of those concepts to which most leaders give lip service… but do you really have the right, formal processes in place for shrewd strategic planning? That’s what we’re going to look at today. First, we’ll touch on the importance of strategic planning. From there, we’ll get into the ins and outs of the process.
What is Strategic Planning?
Before we get any further, though, it may be beneficial to pause for a definition. When we talk about strategic planning, what exactly are we talking about?
My basic definition of strategic planning is that it’s an activity undertaken by business leaders and managers wherein they set the short-term and long-term priorities for the organization; establish metrics and set expectations; allocate how resources and energy should be spent; and ensure everyone on the team is aligned with those long-term goals.
It sounds like a lot, and it is! But now, we’ll break it down and provide some greater illumination, first looking at the importance of strategic planning.
The Importance of Strategic Planning
There are a number of reasons why I believe strategic planning to be of paramount importance. Here are just a few of them.
- It establishes the big picture. Through prudent strategic planning, you can provide a sense of where your business is headed… or at least, where you’d like it to be headed! You can offer that big-picture vision to your team, work to earn their buy-in, and show everyone how their role fits into the greater whole.
- It helps you make smart use of your resources. How should you spend your capital? More importantly, how should you and your team members spend your precious time and energy? A good strategic plan will give you a framework for making these key allocation decisions.
- It helps establish culture. Goals and culture are not the same thing, but neither are they unrelated. When you set benchmarks and allocate resources, it says something about what your business believes in. It says something about what you stand for. It’s an important way to codify your culture.
- It ensures accountability. A strategic plan helps keep everyone on the same page. It provides the standards of failure or success and gives you a more objective way of assessing whether your organization is functioning as intended.
- It adds value to your company. Finally, I’ll just note that if you’re planning on selling your company, having a strong strategic plan in place can actually make the company more appealing. It shows that there’s scaffolding in place for the business to succeed.
These are just some of the reasons why I think strategic planning matters. Now, let’s turn to another key question: What is the strategic planning process?
What is the Strategic Planning Process?
Strategic planning is a big undertaking, and this list is by no means comprehensive. With that said, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you consider your own strategic planning process.
- Before you do anything else, it’s important to gather input. If you have past strategic planning documents to consult, great! Take a look at them and evaluate how well the business did meeting those strategic goals. Employee surveys can be helpful, too. And, don’t hesitate to assemble your key stakeholders, whether in a closed-door meeting or a town hall, and ask for some feedback. Where should the business go next? What should the priorities be?
- I think it’s key to draft a vision statement. This should be a relatively brief, written document that reflect the agreed upon vision of your company, following input from all the key stakeholders. Remember, you’re trying to provide a sense of where your company is headed, but you also need it to be something that will help you align all your team members.
- Using your vision statement as a guide, you might also work to codify a mission statement and/or a list of company values, which can be helpful ways to augment your strategic plan.
- Get the lay of the land and assess some of the potential roadblocks to meeting your strategic goals. Specifically, do some research and make note of the limitations and the competitors who could stand in your way.
- You’re going to need a communication plan, too. How are you going to present your strategic plan to the full team? How can you present it in a way that gets buy-in?
- Finally, you’ll want to create some action steps. How will your team work toward its goals? What should resource allocation look like? Who is ultimately going to be accountable for what?
These are some general considerations to make as you think about your strategic planning process… but if you’d like to get into specifics, I’m here for you!
Reach out and let’s chat together about the importance of strategic planning. I’d love to be of service to your business however I can. Contact me at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098.