Developing Your Strategic Plan

Sections of this topic

    Free Micro-eMBA Module #6: Developing Your Strategic Plan

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting,
    LLC
    .

    This module is in the organization development program. However,
    this module can also be used by anyone as a self-study exercise
    to learn more about strategic planning and writing a strategic
    plan.

    Sections of This Module Include the Following

    Introduction
    Outcomes
    Materials for Review
    Suggested Topics for Reflection and Discussion
    Activities to Build Systems and Practices
    Assessments
    Tracking Open Action Items


    INTRODUCTION

    Very simply put, strategic planning identifies where the organization
    wants to be at some point in the future and how it is going to
    get there. The “strategic” part of this planning process
    is the continual attention to current changes in the organization
    and its external environment, and how this affects the future
    of the organization. Skills in strategic planning are critical
    to the long-term success of your organization. This form of planning
    includes:
    a) Taking a wide look around at what’s going on outside the organization
    and how it might affect the organization (an environmental scan),
    and identifying opportunities and threats
    b) Taking a hard look at what’s going on inside the organization,
    including its strengths and weaknesses (perhaps doing a SWOT analysis)
    c) Establishing statements of mission, vision and values (some
    prefer to do that as the first step in planning)
    d) Establishing goals to accomplish over the next (usually) three
    years or so, as a result of what’s going on inside and outside
    the organization
    e) Identifying how those goals will be reached (strategies, objectives,
    responsibilities and timelines)

    Strategic planning determines the overall direction and goals
    of the organization. Consequently, strategic planning influences
    numerous aspects of the organization, including what:
    a) Products and services will be provided by the business and
    how those products and services will be designed
    b) Organizational design and roles will be needed by the organization
    c) Performance goals should be established for positions throughout
    the business
    d) Board committees should be developed (in the case of corporations)
    e) Resources will be needed to achieve those goals, and consequently,
    how much money is needed to procure those resources — ultimately,
    the goals determine the content of various budgets

    Two key points to remember while proceeding through this module
    are:
    1) The planning process is at least as important as the planning
    document itself
    2) The planning process is never “done” — the planning
    process is a continuous cycles that’s part of the management process
    itself

    NOTE ABOUT BOARD COMMITTEES: Consider establishing a Board
    Planning Committee (in the case of corporations) to review and
    help guide implementation the information in this learning module.
    The Planning Committee might be comprised of chairs from other
    board committees. Major activities and goals from this learning
    module could be incorporated in that Committee’s Committee Work Plan. This module includes
    additional recommendations for membership of the group of planners.

    NOTE ABOUT OCCASIONAL REFERENCES TO NONPROFIT MATERIALS: Various
    links below refer to nonprofit strategic planning — there is
    little difference between strategic planning in for-profit and
    nonprofit organizations. Consequently, all of the materials referenced
    below can be useful to understanding strategic planning in for-profit
    organizations.

    NOTE ABOUT STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS USED IN THIS MODULE:
    There are many different ways to do strategic planning. The process
    used depends on the nature and needs of the organization, the
    reason for the planning (there are numerous, different reasons
    for doing strategic planning), the types of priorities faced by
    the organization, the rate of change outside and inside the organization,
    the ways that decisions are made in the organization, the expertise
    of people to do planning, the extent of external research needed
    to do the planning, and the personal preferences of the organization’s
    leaders and the facilitator(s) of the planning process. Because
    this module is aims to explain strategic planning to people who
    have no — or very little — experience in strategic planning,
    some basic approaches are described in this module. Other approaches
    are described in the Library’s Strategic Planning topic.

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics


    OUTCOMES

    Learners who complete this module will achieve the following
    outcomes:

    1. Decide if You Are an Entrepreneur
    2. Answer: You Have Right Planning and Financial Skills?
    3. Answer: What Human Resources Will You Need?
    4. Articulate Your First Products and Markets
    5. Verify If Those Markets Really Exist
    6. Identify Best Approaches to Pricing
    7. Answer: How Much Money Will You Need?
    8. Draft Your First Strategic and/or Business Plan


    MATERIALS FOR REVIEW

    • The following materials will help you address each of
      the topics and learning activities in this module.
    • NOTE: Each of the following links is to a one- to two-page
      overview. Read all of the following documents referenced by the
      following links.

    Introduction to Basics of Planning (general to most planning
    processes)

    Read all of the document referenced by the following topic.

    Basic
    Guidelines for Successful Planning Process

    Introduction to Strategic Planning

    Read all of the documents referenced by the following topics.

    Basic
    Description of Strategic Planning

    Benefits
    of Strategic Planning

    When
    Should Strategic Planning Be Done?

    Basic
    Overview of Various Strategic Planning Models

    Preparation for Strategic Planning

    Read all of the documents referenced by the following topics.

    Need
    Consultant or Facilitator to Help You With Planning?

    Who
    Should Be Involved in Planning?

    How
    Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?

    How
    Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?

    Conducting Strategic Planning

    Read all of the documents referenced by the following topics.

    Basics
    of Developing Mission, Vision and Values Statements

    Basics
    of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals

    Basics
    of Action Planning (as part of strategic planning)

    Basics
    of Writing and Communicating a Strategic Plan

    Basics
    of Monitoring, Evaluating and Deviating from the Strategic Plan


    SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR REFLECTION
    AND DISCUSSION

    • Learners are strongly encouraged to discuss the following
      questions with peers, board members, management and employees,
      as appropriate.
    • There are a variety of views and approaches regarding
      strategic planning. There is no one “perfect” approach
      for all situations. Therefore, the reader is exposed to a variety
      of perspectives in the materials that are referenced from the
      items below.

    Introduction to Planning and Strategic Planning

    1. What are at least 3 of the key terms in a typical plan? See
      Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process.
    2. What are at least 3 of the typical phases in a typical planning
      process? See Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process.
    3. What are at least 5 of the 9 guidelines for successful planning
      and implementation? See Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process.
    4. What is the purpose of strategic planning? See Basic Description of Strategic Planning.
    5. In the Introduction section of this learning module, you
      read about numerous aspects (5) of the organization that were
      directly influenced by the results of strategic planning. Name
      as many of these items as you can and then compare your answers
      to those listed in the Introduction section of this module.
    6. What’s are some of the benefits of strategic planning? See
      Benefits of Strategic Planning.
    7. What is the “basic” strategic planning model? See
      Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning
      Models
      .
    8. What is the “issues-based” strategic planning model?
      See Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning
      Models
      .
    9. What is the “organic” strategic planning model?
      See Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning
      Models
      .

    Preparation for Strategic Planning

    1. When should strategic planning be done? See When Should Strategic Planning Be Done?
    2. What are at least 4 considerations as to whether a strategic
      planning facilitator will be needed? See Need Consultant or Facilitator to Help You With
      Planning?
    3. Name at least four of the types of people who should be involved
      in strategic planning? See Who Should Be Involved in Planning?
    4. What are some preparations to make before conducting strategic
      planning? See How Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?
    5. What is the most important factor in accomplishing complete
      attendance to planning meetings? See How Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?
    6. What are at least 5 of the actions to ensure implementation
      of the strategic plan? See How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?

    Conducting Strategic Planning

    1. What is a strategic analysis? See Basic Description of Strategic Planning.
    2. What is a mission statement? What’s one way to develop one?
      See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision and Values
      Statements
      .
    3. What is a vision statement? What’s one way to develop one?
      See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision and Values
      Statements
      .
    4. What is a values statement? What’s one way to develop one?
      See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision and Values
      Statements
      .
    5. What are at least 3 of the questions to answer when identifying
      a strategic issue? See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals.
    6. What’s one way that strategic goals can be generated from
      strategic issues? See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals.
    7. What is an action plan? See Basics of Action Planning.
    8. What should a strategic plan document include? See Basic Description of Strategic Planning.
    9. What are at least 6 of the typical parts of a Strategic Plan
      document? See Writing and Communicating the Plan.
    10. What are at least 5 of the questions to ask, when monitoring
      implementation of the Plan? See Basics of Monitoring, Evaluating and Deviating
      from Plan
      .


    ACTIVITIES TO BUILD SYSTEMS AND
    PRACTICES

    • Learners are strongly encouraged to complete the following
      activities, and share and discuss results with peers, board members,
      management and employees, as appropriate.
    • You can write a draft of your own strategic plan by filling
      in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document
      as you proceed through the activities listed below.
    • Learners are strongly encouraged to use a team of planners
      to complete the strategic plan. The following information references
      advice and guidelines for forming this team.
    • As you proceed through the following activities, be sure
      to note any incomplete actions in the Action Item Planning List.

    Preparation (for Organizations That Have Not Yet Done Strategic
    Planning) — Do a “Plan for a Plan”

    1. Address any hesitations that planners might have before
      you start planning.
      Do you have any reservations or hesitations
      about the value of strategic planning? If you do not want to
      pursue the strategic planning process as it is described in this
      module, then how will you (the board, chief executive and other
      employees) decide what your organization will be doing over the
      next few years and how it will do it? (Many banks/funders, prospective
      board members and chief executives will want to see some form
      of a strategic plan document. Consider this in your decision
      about how your organization will do strategic planning.)
    2. What planning model will you use? Basic? Issues-based? Organic?
      How did you select the model that you’ll use? See Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning
      Models
      .
    3. When should your strategic planning be done? See When Should Strategic Planning Be Done?
    4. Will you need a facilitator? If so, where might you get one?
      See Need Consultant or Facilitator to Help You With
      Planning?
    5. Who should be involved in your strategic planning? Be sure
      at least the Board Chair is involved and certainly the CEO. See
      Who Should Be Involved in Planning?
    6. Will there be strong, visible support of the CEO and Board
      Chair to others in the organization? See How Many Planning Meetings Will We Need?
    7. How will you ensure implementation of the plan? See How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?

    Developing Your Basic Strategic Plan Document

    The following activities involve completing a Strategic Plan
    document. A framework, or template, is provided for you, Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document.
    However, that document is in HTML, of Web-based format. You might
    be better to re-create the framework, using your preferred word
    -processing software.

    1. Write Your Mission Statement. In the section labeled
      “Mission Statement” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write a concise description of the purpose of your organization.
      Answer the question: “Why does our organization exist?”
      When answering this question, include the nature of your products
      and the groups of customer who buy your products. The mission
      statement should provide continued direction and focus to your
      plans and operation in your organization. See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision and Values
      Statements
      .
    2. Write Your Vision Statement. In the section labeled
      “Vision Statement” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document
      write your vision statement. Answer the question “What do
      you hope for your organization and customers?” Ideally,
      it should be written in a compelling, inspirational fashion.
      See Basics of Developing Mission, Vision and Values
      Statements
      .
    3. Write Your Values Statement. In the section labeled
      “Values Statement” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write down the important values from which you want your organization
      to operate. The values statement depicts the priorities in how
      the organization carries out activities with stakeholders. See
      Basics of Developing Mission, Vision and Values
      Statements
      .
    4. Conduct an External Analysis. In Appendix C of the
      Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write down your thoughts from an external analysis. An external
      analysis looks at societal, technological, political, and economic
      trends affecting the organization, e.g., trends in the economy,
      recent or pending legislation, demographic trends, rate of access
      to trained labor, and competition. In your external analysis,
      don’t forget to look at stakeholders’ impressions of the
      organization, including bankers’, customers’, community
      leaders’, etc.
    5. Conduct an Internal Analysis. In Appendix C of the
      Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write down your thoughts from your internal analysis. Write down
      the major strengths and weaknesses of your organization. Write
      down the major threats and opportunities regarding your organization.
      Consider trends affecting the organization, e.g., strength of
      sales, reputation of the organization, expertise of employees,
      facilities, strength of finances, strength of administrative
      offices and operations, etc.
    6. Identify Strategic Issues. In Appendix C of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write down the major immediate and near-term issues that your
      organization must address. New organizations, in particular,
      are often better off to first look at the major obstacles or
      issues that if faces, and next identify the more forward-looking,
      developmental goals to accomplish over the next few years. For
      example, current issues might be that sales are dropping, there
      is no research and development to generate new products, employee
      turnover rate is too high, etc. Developmental goals for a new
      organization might be, for example, build a board, do a strategic
      plan, do a market analysis to build a new product, hire employees,
      etc. See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals.
    7. Establish Strategic Goals. In the section labeled
      “Goals and Strategies” in the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write down the strategic goals to address the above-identified
      issues and the more forward-looking, developmental goals. Consider
      goals over the term of your strategic plan, but look very closely
      at the next year especially. Design and word your goals to be
      “SMARTER”, that is, specific, measurable, acceptable
      to the people working to achieve the goals, realistic, timely,
      extending the capabilities of those working to achieve the goals
      and rewarding to them. Don’t worry so much about having to specify
      goals to be exactly “correct”. Carefully consider
      whether the goals and strategies are closely aligned with your
      mission, vision and values. See Basics of Identifying Strategic Issues and Goals.
    8. Develop Staffing Plan. In Appendix E of the
      Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write a rough draft of a staffing plan. To do this, reference
      each of the strategies to reach the goals and consider what kind
      of capabilities are needed to implement the strategies. This
      might seem like a lot of guesswork, particularly if you don’t
      have experience in supervision. However, don’t worry so much
      about being exactly correct — you will likely refine
      your staffing plan later on as you design and plan your products.
      If you are developing a new organization, you might think about
      including the following typical roles in your initial staffing
      plan (but again, consider these roles in terms of implementing
      the strategies in your plan): chief executive, administrative
      assistant and product managers for each of your major product
      goals. See Organizing Staff.
    9. Conduct Action Planning. In Appendix A of the
      Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      for each strategy, write down the objectives that must be achieved
      while implementing the strategy, when the objective should be
      completed and by whom — especially over the next year. As you
      identify who will accomplish each of the objectives, you might
      end up refining your staffing plan. See Basics of Action Planning.
    10. Describe the Process Used to Develop the Plan, in Appendix
      B.
      It helps to describe the process now, so planners can
      refer to it the next time they do planning.
    11. Document Any Strategic Goals Assigned to the Board Committees
      and CEO in Appendix D.
      One of the best ways to ensure that
      strategic goals are achieved is to assign them to a person or
      group of people.
    12. Develop an Operating Budget for Each Year in the Plan,
      for Appendix F.
      In the table labeled “Your Budget Planning”
      in Appendix F of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      list the resources you will need to achieve the goals in the
      strategic plan and what it will cost to obtain and use the resources.
      You don’t have to be exactly accurate — besides, you
      may end up changing your budget as you give more attention to
      product design and planning in the next learning module. You
      should do a budget for each of the years included in the span
      of time covered by your strategic plan — but give particular
      attention to the first year of the time span.
    13. Specify How Implementation of Plan Will Be Monitored and
      Evaluated.
      In Appendix G of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write down how the status of implementation will be monitored
      and evaluated. Consider, for example, weekly written status reports
      to the chief executive from employees, and monthly written reports
      to board members. Status will address whether goals and objectives
      are being met or not, current issues and any resource needed
      to implement the plan. See How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?
    14. Specify How Plan Will Be Communicated. In Appendix
      H
      of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document,
      write down how the plan will be communicated. Consider distributing
      all (or highlights from) the plan to everyone in the organization.
      Post your mission on the walls of your main offices. Consider
      giving each employee a card with the mission statement on it.
      Publish portions of your plan in your regular newsletter. See
      Writing and Communicating the Plan.
    15. Write an Executive Summary. To complete your strategic
      plan document, update the following sections of the Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document.
      a) Complete the section labeled “Executive Summary”
      (guidelines are provided in the framework)
      b) Gain authorization from your board (in the case of corporations)
      (they should sign in the section labeled “Board Authorization
      of Strategic Plan”)
      c) In the body of the plan in the section titled “Organizational
      Information”, include descriptions, for example, of the
      history of the organization, its major products and services,
      highlights and accomplishments during the history of the organization,
      etc.
    16. Acknowledge What You’ve Done — Congratulations!


    ASSESSMENTS

    1. Strategic
    Planning Assessment for Businesses

    2. The following link is to several approaches to evaluate
    strategic planning.
    Monitoring
    Implementation, Evaluating Implementation


    REMINDERS FOR THOSE IN THE ONLINE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

    Reminders About You

    1. Are you using your skills learned in previous modules? For
      example, as you using methodical approaches to problem solving
      and decision making? Are you using strong practices of meeting
      management? Are you communicating key information to others throughout
      your organization?
    2. Are you discussing topics and materials with peers, board
      members and others, as appropriate? Discussion and ongoing feedback
      are some of the best methods to really learn new information
      and materials.
    3. Are you helping others to hold you accountable to your times
      that you committed to reading and study in this program?
    4. Are you reflecting on learnings from past modules and how they build on the learning
      in this module? For example, are you seeing your organization from a systems view,
      as explained in the module “Starting and Understanding Your Organization?”

    Reminders About Your Organization

    1. The results of your strategic plan should produce updates
      to a variety of aspects in your organization. Consider:
      a) Are your products and services directly aligned with your
      new strategic planning goals and strategies
      b) Should any job descriptions and performance goals be updated
      for personnel in your organization?
      c) Should your board committees be re-organized to be more aligned
      to contribute toward achieving your new strategic goals?
    2. How are you ensuring that your whole board understands and
      contributes to achieving your strategic goals?


    TRACKING OPEN ACTION ITEMS

    1. One of the first indicators that an organization or a person
    is struggling is that open action items are not tracked and reviewed.
    (Open action items are required actions that have not yet been
    completed.) Instead, people only see and react to the latest “fires”
    in their workplaces or their lives. Whether open action items
    are critical to address now or not, they should not entirely be
    forgotten. Therefore, update and regularly review a list of open
    action items (identified while proceeding through this program)
    that includes listing each open action item, who is responsible
    to complete it, when it should be completed and any associated
    comments. When updating the list, consider action items as identified
    during discussions, learning activities and assessments in this
    module. Share and regularly review this action item list with
    the appropriate peers, board, management and employees in your
    organization. You can use the following Action Item Planning List. (At that Web address,
    a box might open, asking you which software application to open
    the document.)

    2. If you have questions, consider posing them in the national,
    free, online discussion group hr.com, which is attended
    by many human resource and organization development experts.


    (Learners in the organization development program can return
    to the home page of the organization development program.)


    For the Category of Strategic Planning:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
    want to review some related topics, available from the link below.
    Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been
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