The Importance of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is something that is becoming more and more of a business practice in today’s culture.  And it isn’t just for large corporations or non-profits, but can be used even in small business environments.  Think of it as a road map to the success of your organization.  Where are you now, and where do you want to be in the future.  It is determining what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to direct your organization and use your resources towards achieving your goals.

To begin the planning process, it’s important to be organized.  Set up a who will attend, and get commitment.  Determine what resources you will use to lead the planning session.  This can be in the form of books, seminars, consultants or even borrowing the planning model from a like organization that has had a successful process.  Make sure to let all involved know the purpose of strategic planning and establish if there are any concerns or needs from those within your business or organization.  The more you can address prior to the meeting process, the better.  Some even find it helpful to survey the strategic planning group in advance of the meeting to help brainstorm and pull together

One way to navigate this process is to create a list of all the tasks being done by your business now.  Ask yourself, or a team of employees or board members.  Is this helping us achieve our goals?  Does it fall in line with our mission?  If yes, keep it going.  If no, evaluate if it is a project you should stop altogether, or possibly modify so that it does benefit your overall goals.  And if you choose to drop an item off of your workload, realize you have now freed up time to put more energy into other current projects, or possibly add new ones.

Once you have decided what initiatives you are keeping on your to do list, start brainstorming elements that have only been ideas and not yet come to fruition.  One by one go through those and discuss.  Do you have the staff to fulfill these goals?  Do you have the resources, and assets?  And again, evaluate whether these fit in line with your mission as an organization or a business.

Once you have determined your plan, and the elements to strengthen and grow in the coming years, it  is time to set your direction.  Determine how you will move forward with your goals and come up with a plan as to how you will get there.  Analyze, review and adapt your plan based on your resources, which includes staff and funds.  And the final step, is to implement this plan.  It won’t always go as thought.  There will probably be modifications and adjustments, but the overall goal is that what you set out to accomplish, will come to fruition.  And then, you can celebrate your success and start the process all over again.

Just know that strategic planning is an ongoing process.  It gives you an opportunity to use the ideas and energy of all involved to come up with a vision and a future for your organization.  It can help with the overall impact you make on your customers, clients and community.  The ultimate goal, is to positively impact all those working with you, for you and around you.