Our previous post focused on best practices for executing strategic plans. Taking a step back, this post will focus on the formation of those plans.
To begin, a strategic plan is a high level description of what you intend to do, what you do not intend to do, and how you will move from where you are to where you want to be. A typical time horizon is 3 – 5 years, but may vary depending upon the industry.
These plans should not be confused with long-term budgets or “wish lists.”
Instead, the strategic plan links the mission, vision, goals and objectives. The strategy also needs the buy-in from those expected to deliver. For that reason, they need to be involved from the outset.
Further, to be successful, strategic planning requires a mix of imagination and realism.
- Imagination to describe an innovative product or service, or a way to market for which there is little or no competition.
- Realism to make sure that there is a practical way of executing the strategy.
Here are some of the specific steps for formulating your plan:
- Assess current reality and opportunities, both external and internal
- Develop and/or communicate mission and vision to ensure alignment
- Define the gaps between “is” and “needs to be” and set the right goals
- Develop, assess and select strategic alternatives
- Compare best practices to ensure the strategy can be executed
- Convert strategy into action, using strategy maps and a balanced scorecard
- Launch and build high performance teams and work groups to execute the strategy
- Create an accountability plan so that people at all levels are held accountable for taking the action steps outlined above and for staying-the-course