Strategic planning as a concept has been around for a long time. More times than not, the process is undertaken with the best on intentions, but ends up with a nicely produced and well worded document that sits on the bookshelf until it’s time to hold another strategic planning session to update the document. That document may or may not be consulted in between those sessions.
Implementation is what sets a successful plan apart from the document that gathers dust.
Difference Between Success and Failure: Time Allocation
It is critical to assess current strengths and understand the values of your assets. A sustainable future takes full advantage of these attributes. The first, and arguably most important part in developing (or redeveloping) a strategic plan is the assessment phase. It is crucial to assess all of the current stakeholders in the organization from the executive team and board, to high, mid, and low-level managers, employees, and of course customers. The strategic planners need to gather as much honest feedback as possible, by engaging in real one-on-one conversations with these stakeholders, to assess the organizations current strengths and weaknesses. Generally we find lots of surprises, some positive and some negative.
An outside resource is critical in this phase. An objective and unbiased resource can provide you a fresh view and a neutral evaluation of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and resources.
Strategic Planning Meeting
The next step in developing a successful strategic plan for an organization is to build the plan itself. It is crucial that stakeholders in the organization from all levels are included in the facilitation of the plan. It is crucial to the success of the strategic plan that the document be authored by the stakeholders themselves.
However, an experienced and effective facilitator is needed to provide balance and be sure all stakeholders are heard and all relevant points of view are considered.
Furthermore, the written product of this meeting must be understandable by all parties involved and must be readily apparent to those who come into the picture years down the road. Industry chatter and ambiguous wording can confuse and derail the implementation process.
The third and final step in the Strategic Planning process is implementation. This is the actual carrying out of the strategic plan. While this may sound obvious, and it is not overly complicated, it is crucial that the entire organization – and all of its stakeholders, understand the plan, agree on the plan, and believe in the outcomes. This is where the ‘culture of the organization’ is most important.
It is also very important that during Phase II, measurable goals have been set. Hitting these benchmarks is important, but not as important as tracking the organizations progress and analyzing why or why not deliverable have been accomplished. Monitoring of the progress of these benchmarks is critical to the success of the business plan.