What is a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan is a form of document used by an organization to outline its goals, the actions required to realize these goals and any other important element created during the strategic planning process. Any business that wants to succeed must have some form of strategic planning.

Importance of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is important to an organization’s success. It provides clarity and direction and focuses on connecting the organization’s mission and vision. It attempts to identify the purpose of the organization, what it wants to achieve and how it is going to get there. Having a clearly defined and written mission and vision in the form of a plan can help the organization stay objective and avoid day-to-day operational problems.

Developing strategic plans drives an organization’s alignment. Having everyone participate in the development of the plan fosters a conducive environment for collaboration and discussions on the future of the organization. This promotes creative and open exchange of ideas and positive cultural transformation.

Strategic plans also help an organization communicate its message. Through the plan, the employees can know the mission and vision of the organization as well as how to get there. The employees can then set their priorities right, become more objective and work exclusively to help the organization realize its vision.

Strategic Planning Process

A strategic planning process starts with defining the mission of the organization. Defining the organization’s mission is important because it synthesizes and distills the organization’s ideas, enabling employees to align the specifics of their actions in a manner that can guide in the course of their duties.

After defining the mission, the organization should set goals. The goals should be measurable, specific, achievable and time-bound. Once the goals have been set, the organization should create a plan of action. A plan of action contains the steps the organization will take in order to achieve the set goals. It defines the specific roles each department will play and the amount of time it will take for the organization to fully achieve the desired outcome.

Attributes of a Good Strategic Plan

There are four key attributes of a good plan. It should be realistic, credible, futuristic and attractive. A realistic plan is based on an meaningful vision. For instance, if the organization has a growth rate of 3 percent, then it would not be realistic to set a 15 percent growth rate. A plan that is credible is believable and relevant. An attractive plan inspires and motivates those working for the organization. A futuristic plan does not focus on the present or past. It focuses on the future and provides guidance on how to reach there.

Best Practices for Strategic Planning

Organizations should be disciplined enough if they want to achieve the goals highlighted in their strategic plans and make a sustainable behavioral change. They should also develop various tools to help them monitor their progress and measure performance in regards to the objectives set during strategic planning.

Strategic planning is an important activity every organization must conduct. It helps establish clear objectives as well as a suitable course of action that will be taken to achieve such objectives. A good strategic plan should be simple, realistic, futuristic and time-bound.