11 Tips for Creating a Long-Term Strategic Plan
7 min. read
Updated October 29, 2023
Strategic planning is a management tool that guides your business to better performance and long-term success.
Working with a plan will focus your efforts, unify your team in a single direction, and help guide you through tough business decisions. A strategic plan requires you to define your goals, and in defining them, enables you to achieve them—a huge competitive advantage.
In this article, we’ll discuss 11 essentials for creating a thorough and effective strategic plan. Each tip is a critical stepping stone in leading your business toward your goals.
- 1. Define your company vision
You should be able to define your company vision in 100 words. Develop this statement and make it publically available to both employees and customers.
This statement should answer the key questions that drive your business: Where is your company headed? What do you want your company to be? If you don’t know the answer to these questions off the top of your head, then you have some thinking to do! If you have the answers in your head, but not on paper—get writing.
If you have them written down, congrats! You’ve completed the first and most critical step in creating a long-term strategic plan.
- 2. Define your personal vision
While your personal vision is just as important to your strategic plan, it does not need to be shared with your team and customers.
Your personal vision should incorporate what you want your business to bring to your life—whether that’s enormous growth, early retirement, or simply more time to spend with family and friends.
Aligning your personal vision with your company vision is key to achieving your personal and professional goals. Just as with your company vision, have your personal vision written down in a 100-word statement. Know that statement inside and out and keep it at the forefront of your decision making.
- 3. Know your business
Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. By knowing where your business is now, you can make more informed predictions for how it can grow.
Questions such as “Why is this business important?” and “What does this business do best?” are a great place to start. A SWOT analysis can also help you plan for making improvements.
Questions such as “What needs improvement?” and “What more could the business be doing?” can help guide your strategic plan in a way that closes gaps and opens up opportunities.
For more on completing a SWOT analysis, see our SWOT analysis guide.
What’s your biggest business challenge right now?
- 4. Establish short-term goals
Short-term goals should include everything you (realistically) want to achieve over the next 36 months.
Goals should be “S.M.A.R.T.” (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and timely).
An example of S.M.A.R.T. goals include “building out a new product or service within the next year” or “increasing net profit by 2 percent in ten months.” If you’ve already conducted a SWOT analysis, you should have an idea of what your business can reasonably achieve over a specified period of time.
- 5. Outline strategies
Strategies are the steps you’ll take to meet your short-term goals. If the short term goal is “build out a new product or service,” the strategies might be:
- Researching competitor offerings
- Getting in touch with vendors and suppliers
- Formulating a development plan
- Outlining a marketing and sales plan for the new offering
- 6. Create an action plan
An action plan is an essential part of the business planning and strategy development process. The best analysis, in-depth market research, and creative strategizing are pointless unless they lead to action.
An action plan needs to be a working document; it must be easy to change and update. But, must also be specific about what you’re doing, when you will do it, who will be accountable, what resources will be needed, and how that action will be measured.
Action plans put a process to your strategies. Using the previous example, an action plan might be: “CMO develops competitor research packet for new offerings by 9/1. Review packet with the executive team by 9/15.”
When The Alternative Board, Bradford West Director Andrew Hartley was responsible for designing and delivering a three year, $10m environmental business support program, a full and detailed action plan was required for funding.
“That action plan allowed me to 1.) manage and measure the evolving program, 2.) ensure resources and staff were where they needed to be, and 3.) track whether the design of the program was working and delivering the level of results we were contracted to deliver,” says Hartley.
“Even I was surprised about how helpful that action plan was,” he says. “I cannot image approaching any significant project or business without one.”
- 7. Foster strategic communication
To align your team, you must communicate strategically. Results-driven communication focuses conversations and cuts out excessive meetings. Every communication should be rooted in a specific goal.
Include the how, where, when, and most importantly why every time you deliver instructions, feedback, updates, and so on.
- 8. Review and modify regularly
Check in regularly to make sure you’re progressing toward your goals. A weekly review of your goals, strategies, and action plans can help you see if you need to make any modifications.
Schedule time in your calendar for this. Weekly check-ins allow you to reassess your plan in light of any progress, setbacks, or changes.
- 9. Hold yourself accountable
Having a business coach or mentor is great for this. If you have a hard time sticking to your plans, you’ll have an equally hard time meeting your goals.
According to The Alternative Board’s September 2015 Business Pulse Survey, the number one reason business owners choose to work with mentors is accountability.
“Having a close—but not too close—space for advice and accountability is really valuable,” says TAB Member Scott Lininger, CEO of Bitsbox. “Someone who is too close to your business (such as board members) often have a perspective that’s too similar to your own. Over time, your coach comes to know your team, your product, and your business, and they help you work through all kinds of challenges in a way that’s unique.”
“All too often I find that leaders accept underperformance against their strategic plan too easily,” adds Hartley. “A coach can rekindle the resolve and ambition of the leader, resulting in a recovery of lost margins, sales, or output.”
According to Hartley, a coach can build accountability by questioning what’s working, making sure everything’s on track, pointing out areas of underperformance, and asking what corrective action needs to be pursued.
- 10. Be adaptable
Remember: You can’t plan for everything. Just as challenges will arrive, so too will opportunities, and you must be ready at a moment’s notice to amend your plan. Weekly reviews will help enormously with this.
“A strategic plan will likely need to be changed very soon after approval because nobody can accurately predict anything but the very near term future,” says Jim Morris, owner and President of The Alternative Board, Tennessee Valley. “You stay adaptable by monitoring the plan every day. The wise leader will be constantly looking for opportunities to exceed the strategic plan by being opportunistic, creative, and by exploiting weaknesses in the competitive market.”
By doing this, Morris was able to exceed forecast results of every strategic plan he ever approved. “The times when I needed to be flexible were when we met strategic plan goals ahead of time and had to rewrite the plan to keep it current and relevant.”
It’s important to be adaptable because nothing stays the same. “It’s more important to be agile and take advantage of opportunities that weren’t foreseen and make adjustments,” says Morris. “This and a continuous improvement mindset is the best way to exceed plan goals.”
- 11. Create a strategic planning team
As a business owner, you should never feel like you have to do everything alone.
A strategic planning team can help with every phase of the process, from creating a company vision to adapting your strategy week-to-week. Compose your team of key management staff and employees—some visionaries and some executors.
If you think you’re “too busy” for start strategic planning, then you need strategic planning more than you know. Having a focused plan allows you to focus your energies, so you’re working on your business, rather than in it. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to steer the ship, not put out day-to-day fires.
Yes, creating a strategic plan is challenging, and it’s certainly time-consuming, but it will make all the difference in achieving your long term goals. You’ll avoid making bad decisions and expending more effort than you need.
Try these 11 tips to get started, and then be flexible in your ongoing approach. You’ll be amazed at how much more streamlined your business processes will become when you are working with a long-term strategic plan.
Make confident decisions by following a 4-step growth planning process
Jodie Shaw is The Alternative Board (TAB)’s Chief Marketing Officer. She brings over 20 years of B2B marketing and 10 years in franchising to the role. Prior to to her work with TAB, Jodie served as the CEO and Global Chief Marketing Officer of an international business coaching franchise, serving more than 50 countries.
Table of Contents
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How to Successfully Expand Your Business Outside of Your Core Industry
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Strategic planning maps the initiatives and investments required to achieve long‑term strategic objectives. Here’s how to do it well.
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Strategic planning that works — even in volatile times
Just 29% of strategists say their organizations change plans fast enough to respond to disruption. What’s the problem? Most often, unclear objectives, poor strategic planning processes and disengaged business leaders.
Use this guide to:
Turn your strategy into action faster
Combat 7 mistakes common to strategic planning
Capture and communicate your plans with an exclusive one-page template
4 critical things to know about strategic planning
Especially in times of disruption, it’s key to understand what strategic planning is and does, what assumptions you need and how to leverage the value of adaptive strategy and scenario planning.
- What Is Strategic Planning?
- Strategic Assumptions
- Scenario Planning
- Adaptive Strategy
Strategy and strategic plans: How they are different and why it matters
Strategy creates a common understanding of what an organization wants to achieve and what it needs to do to meet its goals. Strategic plans bridge the gap from overall direction to specific projects and day-to-day actions that ultimately execute the strategy. Job No. 1 is to know the difference between strategy and strategic plans — and why it matters.
Strategy defines the long-term direction of the enterprise. It articulates what the enterprise will do to compete and succeed in its chosen markets or, for the public sector, what the agency will do to achieve its mission.
Strategic planning defines how the enterprise will realize its strategic ambitions in the midterm. Too often, strategic plans are created and then forgotten until the next planning cycle begins. A well-done strategic plan turns an enterprise strategy into a clear roadmap of initiatives, actions and investments required to execute the strategy and meet business goals.
Functional strategic plans document the choices and actions needed for the function to move from the current state to the desired end state, and contribute effectively to the enterprise business model and goals.
Business unit strategic plans define and finalize business unit goals, objectives and initiatives, while cognizant of enterprise priorities and external trends.
Operational plans deal with the short-term execution of specific projects and changes, as well as any operational tasks not contained in the strategic plan.
If you’re responsible for functional strategy, such as IT , create strategic frameworks focused only on what’s material — critical assumptions, relevant metrics and the key initiatives your function needs to contribute effectively to organizational goals, even as those goals shift.
Look out for key trends and disruptions, and test strategic assumptions
It’s critical to scan and respond to trends and disruptions that could impact your strategy and strategic plans — and change your strategic assumptions. Strategic planning cycles should incorporate some mechanism to vet assumptions for relevance (also see “Scenario Planning”).
Ignoring or devaluing trends and disruptions can leave critical gaps in both your strategic assumptions and your strategic planning process, because you may be overlooking both threats and opportunities for your value proposition and competitive positioning.
One Gartner survey found that only 38% of organizations have a formal process for this type of trendspotting. Gartner scopes the seven key areas of disruptive change as a “TPESTRE” of interconnected trend areas (see figure).
Executives across functions and teams can use the TPESTRE construct to identify key trends at any time — from augmented human experience to purpose-driven organizations and digitally enabled sustainability — and analyze their impact. From there, they can build strategic assumptions around the trends as they begin to map what actions might be needed in terms of business models, people/capabilities, IT systems and resources.
After sudden humanitarian or geopolitical disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a framework like TPESTRE can help you identify and monitor a range of risks that may affect your enterprise or function and that you may need to include in scenario planning.
Scenario planning as a strategic planning tool for functions
Scenario planning enables executives and their teams to explore and evaluate plausible alternative futures to make strategic plans more robust and resilient. Pandemic-related disruption and volatility showed the importance of leveraging a range of scenarios to reset business strategy and strategic plans.
Commonly used by strategists at the organizational level, scenario planning at the functional level is just as valuable. Many functional leaders have little experience with strategic scenario planning, even though they may regularly work with their CFO to build budget and forecast scenarios. Those who can learn and apply scenario planning in strategic planning can help their organization navigate volatile and dynamic conditions more effectively, especially in areas like supply chain , where disruption remains high.
Exploring scenarios enables you to determine suitable action plans or strategies for different possible futures. It reveals how to react to a specific future and which set of actions would make sense no matter what conditions ultimately unfold.
For leaders of functional teams, developing scenarios and their underlying assumptions is in itself a useful exercise to corroborate or challenge strategies and keep them current.
The objective of scenario planning is to secure the best immediate outcome while preparing suitable alternative action plans, depending on how a situation unfolds. Proactively agreeing on both near-term operational decisions and long-term strategic plans will reduce the time it takes you to respond to emerging risks and opportunities. This can help your function preempt, rather than reactively control for, the negative effects of a major event or disruption.
Guide to Scenario Planning for Functional Leaders
Scenario Planning for Supply Chain Leaders
Scenario Planning Ignition Guide for Marketing
Strengthen Your R&D Portfolio With Scenario Planning
Use adaptive strategic planning to enable a dynamic response
In an increasingly volatile and uncertain world, strategy can rapidly become out-of-date. To address this challenge, strategic planning must be adaptive. The faster the rate of change in operating conditions and the more disruptions you need to integrate into long-term strategy, the more adaptive your strategy models must be.
An adaptive strategy approach is what ensures your organization can spot new opportunities earlier and respond more quickly than your competitors, making you most likely to succeed in a dynamic digital world.
A truly adaptive strategy approach is consistent with four core practices (see figure) designed to move the enterprise from a rigid, top-down, calendar-based process to a more event-driven strategy approach. Functional strategy can incorporate the same principles. While a truly adaptive approach will be based on all four core practices, functional leaders can initially focus on the practices that address their immediate strategy challenges.
Rather than requiring perfect or complete information to execute, adaptive strategy uses available information to identify immediate actions required for an enterprise or function to be successful. These actions may range from focusing on high-priority areas to making foundational investments or conducting experiments to test ideas. You can use insights from these actions, along with any new information and analysis, to identify your next set of actions.
Adaptive strategy requires you to review strategy whenever new (and relevant) information becomes available, so it’s important to continually scan the business context to identify changes and review — and, where necessary, adjust — strategy in response to changes. (Also see “Strategic Assumptions.”)
Check out more strategic planning essentials for your function
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Frequently asked questions
What is strategic planning.
Strategic planning is the process through which enterprises, functions and business units identify the roadmap of initiatives and portfolio of investments that will be required in the medium term to achieve long-term strategic objectives.
What are the four types of strategic planning and the three levels of strategic planning?
Strategic planning starts with setting strategy at the enterprise level, but that strategy must then be turned into action. The three levels of strategic planning typically refer to corporate versus business unit and functional. The four types of plans are typically strategic, operational, tactical and contingency.
What steps are involved in the strategic planning process?
To build a successful strategic plan with a consistent and sequential process, functional leaders should:
Ensure consistent usage of terms to minimize confusion in strategic planning and set a baseline for collaboration
Build a strong foundation for more detailed planning by setting or pressure-testing mission, vision and goal statements first
Streamline stakeholder input by limiting mission, vision and goal setting to senior leadership, and leaving objective, action plan, and measure and metric development to managers with execution expertise
What are the key elements of strategic planning?
The key elements of a successful strategic plan include:
Mission and vision. The organization’s mission articulates its reasons for being, and the vision lays out where the organization hopes to be. The strategic plan, which links the two, must be adaptive enough to respond if the context changes during execution.
Strategic assumptions. To build a successful strategic plan, leadership should scope for trends and disruptions, and assess their potential impact on enterprise goals.
Strategic plan design. A rigorous strategic planning design effectively translates the strategy into plans that can and will be executed. Poor plans lead to poor execution.
What are the key terms in strategic planning?
Mission: Organization’s purpose
Vision: Desired future state
Objective: How to reach goals
Action plan: What’s needed to achieve objectives
Measures and metrics: To track progress toward goals
How do we design a strategic planning system?
Strategic planning “systems” refer to the tools used to document strategic plans. Gartner urges organizations not to focus on strategy in terms of the document they’re creating, but instead focus on turning strategy into an easily communicated action plan.
What is a strategic action plan?
The strategic action plan is a formal document that serves as the primary source of information for how objectives will be executed, monitored, controlled and closed. Many organizations also deploy an associated but separate “action plan” for achieving the operating model.
What are strategic measures and metrics?
Measures are observable outcomes that allow organizations to evaluate the efficacy of their action plans. Metrics quantify those observed changes to enable an organization to concretely quantify its progress and stay aligned to its chosen measures.
What are the 7 key success factors involved in strategic planning?
These seven success factors are key to producing high-quality strategic plans that will be successfully executed yet responsive to change:
Focus on designing a minimally viable strategy.
Customize planning efforts to meet participants where they are.
Sketch out initiative design before prioritizing strategic actions.
Be clear about who owns what.
Cascade plans side to side, not just top-down.
Focus performance measures on key assumptions.
Pressure-test plans against a narrow set of future scenarios.
Drive stronger performance on your mission-critical priorities.
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How to Do Strategic Planning Like a Futurist
You don’t need a time line; you need a time cone.
Chief strategy officers and those responsible for shaping the direction of their organizations are often asked to facilitate “visioning” meetings. This helps teams brainstorm ideas, but it isn’t a substitute for critical thinking about the future. Neither are the one-, three-, or five-year strategic plans that have become a staple within most organizations, though they are useful for addressing short-term operational goals. Futurists think about time differently, and company strategists could learn from their approach. For any given uncertainty about the future — whether that’s risk, opportunity, or growth — we tend to think in the short- and long-term simultaneously. To do this, consider using a framework that doesn’t rely on linear timelines or simply mark the passage of time as quarters or years. Instead, use a time cone that measures certainty and charts actions.
I recently helped a large industrial manufacturing company with its strategic planning process. With so much uncertainty surrounding autonomous vehicles, 5G, robotics, global trade, and the oil markets, the company’s senior leaders needed a set of guiding objectives and strategies linking the company’s future to the present day. Before our work began in earnest, executives had already decided on a title for the initiative: Strategy 2030.
- Amy Webb is a quantitative futurist, CEO of Future Today Institute, and professor of strategic foresight at the New York University Stern School of Business. She is the author of The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream , The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity , and The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology .
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More Like this
Examples of strategic objectives, what are strategic objectives.
Strategic objectives are often one of the most challenging components of a strategic plan. They create the bridge between your big, bold vision and the annual goals needed to achieve it.
Strategic objectives establish the boundaries for what your organization’s effort must focus on. They create the top layer of your organizational strategy and strategic plan’s framework, articulating what you’ll focus on to achieve your vision of success.
Download the Free Guide Here
We’ve put this guide together to show you how to develop your strategic plan’s objectives!
Tip The best strategic objectives are built from your SWOT Analysis and Vision Statement. Check out our guides if you need to complete those planning elements first.
Defining Strategic Objectives
Video Transcript – Strategic Objectives Defined
Hi, everyone, its Erica from OnStrategy.
Welcome to today’s whiteboard session on defining strategic objectives. From my point of view, strategic objectives are the hardest part of strategic planning. And why is that? That’s because they’re really in between a big vision and translating that big vision into annual goals or actions. And they make the bridge between the big idea and what’s actually getting done this year, this quarter this week. So strategic objectives serve such an important purpose. And they can take a little bit to get right. This is a two part series, check out this one first.
So we’re going to go through what they are. And the other one, we’re going to talk about how to build them. So let’s define strategic objectives. First of all, you can call them anything you want. We’ve heard them called strategic priorities, strategic goals, pillars, planks, kumquats, oranges, it doesn’t really matter. Today, we’re going to call them strategic objectives. And we are defining them as broad statements of direction. And again, they’re little mini vision statements that translate your vision into a bridge to build an annual plan.
Okay, so broad statements. That’s the that’s the idea. Let’s look at the anatomy of so here’s an example of a really good strategic objective. We like to start with a label. So what is it market growth, let’s just say that, followed by a colon, a strong verb, and a statement of impact, in this case, strengthen our competitive position. Super simple, this is a little bit generic, you could continue the sentence if you want to, to make it a little more relevant to your organization. But you know, quick talking points, one of the strategic objectives for the organization is market growth. And what we’re trying to get done is strengthening our competitive position. Great.
Then underneath that, and I don’t have it fully built out here. But we like to actually build out an intent, couple of sentences, maybe even a paragraph, and this is really the the sense of where are you trying to go with this strategic objective, it really starts to bring it to life. And we like to have three sections in that intent statement. Where are you now, in the context of this, this strategic objectives in this case, your competitive position, you know, strategic plans have a lifespan.
And so it’s nice to know at the time in which you wrote it, where are you now a couple of sentences? What are the shifts that are needed in order to actually realize strengthening your competitive position? In this case, this will help you build great goals and initiatives? And then what’s the approach? What’s your method for strengthening competitive your competitive position. And by that, I mean, organic acquisitive, those types of things. So you could envision your intent statement, having, you know, a couple of sentences here, a couple of sentences here, and a couple of sentences here. Okay.
How do you use your strategic objectives? There are two really great ways to use them. Number one is you’re going to roadmap your strategic objectives by year and what we mean by that is this starts to become your framework for how do you actually build a plan that has a horizon. Now, in agile planning, it’s hard to have a really long horizon, but you do have a direction. So when this starts to build out your swim lanes, your strategic objectives, start to build out your swim lanes for your plan.
The second thing that you use your strategic objectives for are is building out your annual plan. So of course, for each strategic objective, you’ll have a handful of annual statements. In this case, I’m calling them goals, what are you actually going to achieve in the you know, the year that you’re in in order to move this objective forward? And then so on and so forth. So it starts your cascade? So a really nice thing to think about is strategic objectives answer the question where, and then following under that is the what, and then following under that is the how doesn’t matter what you call them? But absolutely, those are the components that make a strat plan go from a big idea to actually something that’s producing results.
And that’s all we have for you today. Check out part two for an example of how to build a framework with your strategic objectives. Don’t forget, subscribe to our social channels. Happy strategizing.
Strategic goals, priorities, pillars, planks, and strategic objectives— they’re all the same thing! Whatever you call them, they’re a critical component of your plan. For this whitepaper, we’re going to call them strategic objectives.
Strategic objectives are broad statements of direction that create a bridge from your vision to the annual plan or goals. We like to refer to strategic goals or strategic objectives as “mini vision statements” because they should support your overall vision of success but break it down into manageable and actionable focus areas.
Get the Free Guide to Build Your Strategic Objectives (with Examples!)
Ideally, strategic objectives should be broad, 3-year(ish) statements that address the core functional areas of your organization. We’re fans of Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard.® which guides strategic objectives to address various factors such as the people of your organization and their skills and growth, operations and internal processes, customer service, and financial areas of your organization. Having an SO in each of the Balanced Scorecard perspectives ensures your plan is focusing on the core aspects of your business (people, process, customers and financial).
Answer These Questions to Create Intent for Your Strategic Objectives
One of the things we like to complete as we build our new strategic objectives is a statement of intent. We include the answer to the following questions as a short paragraph with each strategic objective to clarify intent:
- Where are we now & where do we need to be in X years?
- What strategic shifts are needed to get there?
- What is our approach to achieve success?
Answering these core questions will help you create your new strategic objectives with clarity about what you’re seeking to achieve and what the cascading goals or OKRs need to focus on.
The Anatomy of a Strategic Objective
Strategic objectives or goals should start with a label. The label should clearly identify what it is you’re seeking to achieve. In this example, we’re seeking to achieve Customer Retention.
Begin your SO’s descriptive statement with a ‘power’ verb: a strong, action-oriented verb. Think “Create” or “Increase,” not passive verbs like, “Confirm” or “Facilitate.”
Statement of Impact
A short description of what you will achieve and how it will impact the organization. This should answer the intent questions from the previous section.
Building a Strategic Framework
With an understanding of the anatomy of a strategic objective, you can build the framework of your strategic management plan. As we’ve mentioned, strategic objectives are the bridge between your big, bold vision and your annual execution of goals and initiatives.
They Are Multi-Year in Nature
Tip Annual goals are cascaded from the Strategic Objectives. Check out our guide on SMART goals if you need help writing your goals.
Your Framework Has 6 or Fewer Strategic Objectives
Tip Unsure how to prioritize your opportunities as you create your Strategic Objectives? Check out this exercise on prioritizing strategic objectives to help.
It Provides Company-wide Direction
It is not a mish-mash of department goals, example: balanced scorecard framework.
This is a traditional balanced scorecard framework. We like this framework because it covers all aspects of an organization and creates a balanced plan:
Tip It is essential to not use words that you found in someone else’s strategic plan! Use the words that are relevant to your organization and its culture and the message you want to send to your team about the investment the plan is making in them and the organization’s future.
Example: Themed Framework
A different way to think about creating a framework is theming your strategic objectives. Here’s what that might look like:
Strategic Objectives Examples:
We prefer to organize these types of strategic objectives into these four buckets and have provided some examples of each:
Financial Strategic Objectives
- Financial Growth: To exceed $10 million in the next 10 years.
- Financial Growth: To increase revenue by 10% annually.
- Financial Efficiency: To decrease expenses by 5%.
- Financial Efficiency: To increase net profit by 10% annually.
Customer/Constituent Strategic Objectives
- Current Customers: Expand sales to existing customers.
- Current Customers: Increase customer retention.
- Current Customers: Achieve and maintain outstanding customer service.
- Current Customers: Develop and use a customer database.
- New Customers: Introduce existing products into a new market.
- New Customers: Introduce new products to new and existing markets.
- New Customers: To expand sales to the global marketplace.
- Customer Services: Improve our service approach for new and existing customers.
Internal/Operational Strategic Objectives
- Product/Service/Program Management: To have all product meet standard of excellence guidelines. (Some businesses prefer to list their individual products or services as separate objectives.)
- Operations Management: Capitalize on physical facilities (location, capacity, etc.).
- Operations Management: Increase community outreach.
- Technology Management: Increase efficiencies through use of wireless or virtual technology.
- Communication Management: Improve internal communications.
- Customer Management: To execute and maintain a CRM process that is producing results.
- Marketing Management: Develop and implement a promotional plan to drive increased business.
- Alliance Management: Establish one new strategic alliance annually.
- Channel Management: Improve distributor and/or supplier relationships.
People/Learning Strategic Objectives
- People: Employ professionals who create success for customers.
- Training: To develop the leadership abilities and potential of our team.
- Culture: To align incentives and staff rewards with performance.
- Knowledge: To continually learn and adopt current best practices.
Remember, these are just examples of strategic objectives. Sometimes seeing an example makes understanding the process easier.
Most CEOs struggle with shifting demands that make keeping their long-term vision connected to weekly priorities chaotic. So we created a framework and software to make adapting strategy, goals, and priorities easy. When your team contributes directly to the big picture, you deliver results consistently.
very greatful with the source of information provided to me.it has helped me as a student of project planning and entrepreneurship to do the work in relation to my course assignment.
Makes it easy for me as a student to have a grip of what objectives are and in particular the way they are spelt out. As a PR student am now able answer at least some questions about PR objectrives
This is also very helpful to me…as a student of Company Management. Thanks a lot.
This is very detailed, relevant information and very useful to me as a new entrepreneur in organizational consulting! Thank you so much
very interesting and useful
Very informative and educative!
This would really help me in my Strategic Management paper. Thank you!
this is useful information. i have benefited from it on my studies and strategic objectives planning in my small business.
Thank You 🙂
Thank you for sharing such helpful information. I have learnt a lot:-)
found it very good and informative. it educates me to set something strategically for the benefit of my organisation and to grow it.
further more i would like to know every organisation having different departments to fulfill particular requirements. say purchase/procurement, finance/accounts, personnel management/HR. I request you to guide on departmental stratagic ideas too.
Thanks a ton..
very useful information for strategic planning. the information has assisted me greatly to review ma companys’ strategic plan
This is great stuff!!!
Thanks! Very concise and helpful!
Thanks for positing. Its really very useful info.
Don’t objectives need to be SMART?
yes, they need to be. Are they not?
A well thought out document. Found interesting and useful
very informative. thank you very much. 🙂
I find this very helpful and just in time for my strategic assignment. Thank you and continue providing such information.
This is very helpful to me especially now that im doing an assessment on marketing plan
It was very nice common strategic objectives to start with. Also can add Improve Market Share Increase, Share Holder Value, Brand Image, Customer Satisfaction, Return on Investment (ROI), Decrease Production Time, Increase Quality of the product, Safety Measures like Decrease Accidents, Environmental Measures etc. This will help for new companies.
Thank you so much! I found this article very much helpful to complete my strategy-management assignment.
thanksyouve helpd me through to answermy appraisal form atwork
Splendid. Really needed this to improve services for my starting business. Sincerely grateful. Keep it up!
This was very insightful and helpful. Thanks
This was very helpful . Sincere thanks
Really a great stuff as it has helped me as a fresh entrepreneur. Thanks a lot.
i am glad to see that kind of techniques. these are helpful for a entrepreneur.
very useful for my strategic analysis of a Ghanaian insurance company. thanks
very insightful read, thank you
Can a strategic plan like for instance Operational Excellence tie into objectives and tactics? If so, how?
Spectacular work <3 very helpful for my studies. Thoroughly enjoyed
Amazing! Thanks, Everything Strategy, for this helpful blog. I am now knowledgeable about the strategic objectives. I am motivated to pursue my success in the future. Thank you so much!
Hi, The article is well written and worth reading. Thank you for sharing the valuable information. Please keep sharing more about Financial Goals For A Business!
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How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the thought of writing a strategic plan for your business? Do you want to create a plan that will help you move your team forward with inspired alignment and disciplined execution? You're not alone.
Gone are the days of rigid, 5- or 10-year planning cycles that do not leave room for flexibility and innovation. To stay ahead of the curve, you need a dynamic and execution-ready strategic plan that can guide your business through the ever-evolving landscape.
At Cascade, we understand that writing a strategic plan can be dreadful, especially in today's unpredictable environment. That's why we've developed a simple model that can help you create a clear, actionable plan to achieve your organization's goals. With our tested and proven strategic planning template , you can write a strategic plan that is both adaptable and effective .
Whether you're a seasoned strategy professional or a fresh strategy planner, this guide will walk you through the process step-by-step on how to write a strategic plan. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive, easy-to-follow strategic plan that will help you align your organization on the path to success.
Follow this guide step-by-step or skip to the part you’re most interested in:
- Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation
Cascade Model For Strategic Planning: What You Need To Know
- Key Elements of a Strategic Plan
How To Write A Strategic Plan In 6 Simple Steps
3 strategic plan examples to get you started, how to achieve organizational alignment with your strategic plan.
- Quick Overview of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan
Create An Execution-Ready Strategic Plan With Cascade 🚀
*Editor’s note: This article is part of our ‘How to create a Strategy’ collection. At the end of this article, you’ll find a link to each piece within this collection so you can dig deeper into each element of an effective strategic plan and more related resources to master strategy execution.
Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation
Before we dive into writing a strategic plan, it's essential to know the basics you should cover before the planning phase. The pre-planning phase is where you'll begin to gather the data and strategic insights necessary to create an effective strategic plan.
1. Run a strategic planning workshop
The first step is to run a strategic planning workshop with your team. Get your team in the room, get their data, and gather their insights. By running this workshop, you'll foster collaboration and bring fresh perspectives to the table. And that’s not all.
The process of co-creating and collaborating to put that plan together with stakeholders is one of the most critical factors in strategy execution . According to McKinsey’s research , initiatives in which employees contribute to development are 3.4 times more likely to be successful. They feel like the plan is a result of their efforts, and they feel ownership of it, so they're more likely to execute it.
💡 Tip: Use strategy frameworks to structure your strategy development sessions, such as GAP analysis , SWOT analysis , Porter’s Five Forces , Ansoff matrix , McKinsey 7S model , or GE matrix . You can even apply the risk matrix that will help you align and decide on key strategic priorities.
2. Choose your strategic planning model
Before creating your strategic plan, you need to decide which structure you will use. There are hundreds of ways to structure a strategic plan. You’ve likely heard of famous strategic models such as OKRs and the Balanced Scorecard .
But beyond the well-known ones, there's also a myriad of other strategic planning models ranging from the extremely simple to the absurdly complex.
Many strategic models work reasonably well on paper, but in reality, they don't show you how to write a strategic plan that fits your organization's needs.
Here are some common weaknesses most popular strategic models have:
- They're too complicated. People get lost in terminology rather than focus on execution.
- They don’t scale. They work well for small organizations but fail when you try to extend them across multiple teams.
- They're too rigid. They force people to add layers for the sake of adding layers.
- They're neither tangible nor measurable. They’re great at stating outcomes but lousy at helping you measure success.
- They're not adaptable. As we saw in the last years, the business environment can change quickly. Your model needs to be able to work in your current situation and adapt to changing economic landscapes.
Our goal in this article is to give you a simpler, more effective way to write a strategic plan. This is a tested and proven strategic planning model that has been refined over years of working with +20,000 teams around the world. We call it the Cascade Strategy Model.
This approach has proven to be more effective than any other model we have tried when it comes to executing and implementing the strategy .
It’s easy to use and it works for small businesses, fast-growing startups, as well as multinationals trying to figure out how to write a fail-proof strategic plan.
We’ve created a simple diagram below to illustrate what a strategic plan following the Cascade Model will look like when it's completed:
Rather than a traditional roadmap , imagine your strategy as a flowchart. Each row is a mandatory step before moving on to the next.
We call our platform Cascade for a reason: strategy must cascade throughout an organization along with values, focus areas, and objectives.
Above all, the Cascade Model is intended to be execution-ready —in other words, it has been proven to deliver success far beyond strategic planning. It adds to a successful strategic management process.Key elements of a Strategic Plan
Key Elements Of A Strategic Plan
The key elements of a strategic plan include:
- Vision : Where do you want to get to?
- Values : How will you behave on the journey?
- Focus Areas : What are going to be your strategic priorities?
- Strategic objectives : What do you want to achieve?
- Actions and projects : How are you going to achieve the objectives?
- KPIs : How will you measure success?
In this part of the article, we will give you an overview of each element within the Cascade Model. You can follow this step-by-step process in a spreadsheet , or sign up to get instant access to a free Cascade strategic planning template and follow along as we cover the key elements of an effective strategic plan.
Your vision statement is your organization's anchor - it defines where you want to get to and is the executive summary of your organization's purpose. Without it, your strategic plan is like a boat without a rudder, at the mercy of strong winds and currents like Covid and global supply chain disruptions.
A good vision statement can help funnel your strategy towards long-term goals that matter the most to your organization, and everything you write in your plan from this point on will help you get closer to achieving your vision.
Trying to do too much at once is a surefire way to sink your strategic plan. By creating a clear and inspiring vision statement , you can avoid this trap and provide guidance and inspiration for your team. A great vision statement might even help attract talent and investment into your organization.
For example, a bike manufacturing company might have a vision statement like, “To be the premier bike manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest.” This statement clearly articulates the organization's goals and is a powerful motivator for the team.
In short, don't start your strategic plan without a clear vision statement. It will keep your organization focused and help you navigate toward success.
📚 Recommended read: How to Write a Vision Statement (With Examples, Tips, and Formulas)
Values are the enablers of your vision statement —they represent how your organization will behave as you work towards your strategic goals. Unfortunately, many companies throw around meaningless words just for the purpose of PR, leading to a loss of credibility.
To avoid this, make sure to integrate your organization’s core values into everyday operations and interactions. In today's highly-competitive world, it's crucial to remain steadfast in your values and cultivate an organizational culture that's transparent and trustworthy.
Companies with the best company cultures consistently outperform competitors and their average market by up to 115.6%, as reported by Glassdoor .
For example, a bike manufacturing company might have core values like:
These values reflect the organization's desire to become the leading bike manufacturer, while still being accountable to employees, customers, and shareholders.
👉 Here’s how to add vision and values to your strategic plan in Cascade:
After you sign up and invite your team members to collaborate on the plan, navigate to Plans and Teams > Teams page, and add the vision, mission and values. This will help you to ensure that the company’s vision, mission statement, and values are always at top of mind for everyone.
📚When you're ready to start creating some company values, check out our guide, How To Create Company Values .
3. Focus Areas
Your focus areas are the strategic priorities that will keep your team on track and working toward the company’s mission and vision. They represent the high-level areas that you need to focus on to achieve desired business outcomes.
In fact, companies with clearly defined priorities are more likely to achieve their objectives. According to a case study by the Harvard Business Review , teams that focus on a small number of key initiatives are more likely to succeed than those that try to do too much.
That’s also something that we usually recommend to our customers when they set up their strategic plan in Cascade. Rather than spreading your resources too thin over multiple focus areas, prioritize three to five.
Following our manufacturing example above, some good focus areas include:
- Aggressive growth
- Producing the nation's best bikes
- Becoming a modern manufacturer
- Becoming a top place to work
Your focus areas should be tighter in scope than your vision statement, but broader than specific goals, time frames, or metrics.
By defining your focus areas, you'll give your teams a guardrail to work within, which can help inspire innovation and creative problem-solving.
With a clear set of focus areas, your team will be better able to prioritize their work and stay focused on the most important things, which will ultimately lead to better business results.
👉Here’s how you can set focus areas in Cascade:
In Cascade, you can add focus areas while creating or importing an existing strategic plan from a spreadsheet. With Cascade’s Focus Area deep-dive functionality , you will be able to:
- Review the health of your focus areas in one place.
- Get a breakdown by plans, budgets, resources, and people behind each strategic priority.
- See something at-risk? Drill down into each piece of work regardless of how many plans it's a part of.
📚 Recommended read: Strategic Focus Areas: How to create them + Examples
4. Strategic Objectives
The importance of setting clear and specific objectives for your strategic plan cannot be overstated.
Strategic objectives are the specific and measurable outcomes you want to achieve . While they should align with your focus areas, they should be more detailed and have a clear deadline.
According to the 2022 State of High Performing Teams report , there is a strong correlation between goals and success not only at the individual and team level but also at the organizational level. Here’s what they found:
- Employees who are unaware of their company's goals are over three times more likely to work at a company that is experiencing a decline in revenue than employees who are aware of the goals.
- Companies with shrinking revenues are almost twice as likely to have employees with unclear work expectations.
Jumping straight into actions without defining clear objectives is a common mistake that can lead to missed opportunities or misalignment between strategy and execution.
To avoid this pitfall, we recommend you add between three and six objectives to each focus area .
It's here that we need to start being a bit more specific for the first time in your strategic planning process . Let's take a look at an example of a well-written strategic objective:
- Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.
This is too specific to be a focus area. While it's still very high level, it indicates what the company wants to accomplish and includes a clear deadline. Both these aspects are critical to a good strategic objective.
Your strategic objectives are the heart and soul of your plan, and you need to ensure they are well-crafted. So, take the time to create well-planned objectives that will help you achieve your vision and lead your organization to success.
👉Here’s how you can set objectives in Cascade:
Adding objectives in Cascade is intuitive, straightforward, and accessible from almost anywhere in the workspace. With one click, you’ll open the objective sidebar and fill out the details. These can include a timeline, the objective’s owner, collaborators, and how your objective will be measured (success criteria).
📚 Recommended read: What are Strategic Objectives? How to write them + Examples
5. Actions and projects
Once you’ve defined your strategic objectives, the next step is to identify the specific strategic initiatives or projects that will help you achieve those objectives . They are short-term goals or actionable steps you or your team members will take to accomplish objectives. They should leverage the company’s resources and core competencies.
Effective projects and actions in your strategic plan should:
- Be extremely specific.
- Contain a deadline.
- Have an owner.
- Align with at least one of your strategic objectives.
- Provide clarity on how you or your team will achieve the strategic objective.
Let's take a look at an example of a well-written project continuing with our bike manufacturing company using the strategic objective from above:
Strategic objective: Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.
Project: Expand into the fixed gear market by 31st December 2023.
This is more specific than the objective it links to, and it details what you will do to achieve the objective.
Another common problem area for strategic plans is that they never quite get down to the detail of what you're going to do.
It's easier to state "we need to grow our business," but without concrete projects and initiatives, those plans will sit forever within their PowerPoint templates, never to see the light of day after their initial creation.
Actions and projects are where the rubber meets the road. They connect the organizational strategic goals with the actual capabilities of your people and the resources at their disposal. Defining projects is a vital reality check every strategic plan needs.
👉Here’s how you create actions and projects in Cascade:
From the Objective sidebar, you can choose to add a project or action under your chosen objective. In the following steps, you can assign an owner and timeline to each action or project.
Plus, in Cascade, you can track the progress of each project or action in four different ways. You can do it manually, via milestones, checklists, or automatically by integrating with Jira and 1000+ other available integrations .
📚 Recommended read: How to create effective projects
Measuring progress towards strategic objectives is essential to effective strategic control and business success. That's where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in. KPIs are measurable values that track progress toward achieving key business objectives . They keep you on track and help you stay focused on the goals you set for your organization.
To get the most out of your KPIs, make sure you link them to a specific goal or objective. In this way, you'll avoid creating KPIs that don't contribute to your objectives and distract you from focusing on what matters.
Ideally, you will add both leading and lagging KPIs to each objective so you can get a more balanced view of how well you're progressing. Leading KPIs can indicate future performance while lagging KPIs show how well you’ve done in the past. Both types of KPIs are critical for operational planning and keeping your business on track.
Think of KPIs as a form of signpost in your organization. They provide critical insights that inform business leaders of their organization’s progress toward key business objectives. Plus, they can help you identify opportunities faster and capitalize on flexibility.
👉Here’s how you can set and track KPIs in Cascade:
In Cascade , you can add measures while creating your objectives or add them afterward. Open the Objective sidebar and add your chosen measure.
When you create your Measure, you can choose how to track it. Using Cascade, you can track it manually or automatically. You can automate tracking via 1000+ integrations , including Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets. In this way, you can save time and ensure that your team has up-to-date information for faster and more confident decision-making.
📚 Recommended reads:
- 10 Popular KPI Software Tools To Connect & Visualize Your Data (2023 Guide)
- How To Track KPIs To Hit Your Business Goals
Corporate Strategic Plan
Following the steps outlined above, you should end up with a strategic plan that looks something like this:
This is a preview of a corporate strategic plan template that is pre-filled with examples. Here you can use the template for free and begin filling it out to align with your organization's needs. Plus, it’s suitable for organizations of all sizes and any industry.
Once you fill in the template, you can also switch to the timeline view. You’ll get a complete overview of how the different parts of your plan are distributed across the roadmap in a Gantt chart view.
This template will help you create a structured approach to the strategic planning process, focus on key strategic priorities, and drive accountability to achieve necessary business outcomes.
👉 Get your free corporate strategic plan template here.
Coca-Cola Strategic Plan
Need a bit of extra inspiration to start writing your organization’s strategic plan? Check out this strategic plan example, inspired by Coca-Cola’s business plan:
This template is pre-filled with Coca-Cola’s examples so you can inspire your strategic success on one of the most iconic brands on the planet.
👉 Grab your free example of a Coca-Cola strategic plan here.
The Ramsay Health Care expansion strategy
Ramsay Health Care is a multinational healthcare provider with a strong presence in Australia, Europe, and Asia.
Almost all of its growth was organic and strategic. The company founded its headquarters in Sydney, Australia, but in the 21st century, it decided to expand globally through a primary strategy of making brownfield investments and acquisitions in key locations.
Ramsay's strategy was simple yet clever. By becoming a majority shareholder of the biggest local players, the company expanded organically in each region by leveraging and expanding their expertise.
Over the last two decades, Ramsay's global network has grown to 460 locations across 10 countries with over $13 billion in annual revenue.
📚 Recommended read: Strategy study: The Ramsay Health Care Growth Study
✨ Bonus resource: We've created a list of the most popular and free strategic plan templates in our library that will help you build a strategic plan based on the Cascade model explained in this article. You can use these templates to create a plan on a corporate, business unit, or team level.
We highlighted before that other strategic models often fail to scale strategic plans and goals scales across multiple teams and organizational levels.
In an ideal world, you want to have a maximum of two layers of detail underneath each of your focus areas. This means you'll have a focus area, followed by a layer of objectives. Underneath the objectives, you'll have a layer of actions, projects, and KPIs.
If you have a single team that’s responsible for the strategy execution, this works well. However, how do you implement a strategy across multiple and cross-functional teams? And why is it important?
According to LSA research of 410 companies across 8 industries, highly aligned companies grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable. And this is what Cascade can help you achieve.
To achieve achieve organization-wide alignment with your strategic plan and impact the bottom line, there are two ways to approach it in Casade: through contributing objectives or shared objectives .
1. Contributing objectives
This approach involves adding contributing objectives that link to your main strategic objectives, like this:
For each contributing objective, you simply repeat the Objective → Action/Project → KPI structure as follows:
Here's how you can create contributing objectives in Cascade:
Option A: Create contributing objectives within the same plan
This means creating multiple contributing objectives within the same strategic plan that contribute to the main objective.
However, be aware that if you have a lot of layers, your strategic plan can become cluttered, and people might have difficulty understanding how their daily efforts contribute to the strategic plan at the top level.
For example, the people responsible for managing contributing objectives at the bottom of the plan ( functional / operational level ) will lose visibility on how are their objectives linked to the main focus areas and objectives (at a corporate / business level ).
This approach is best suited to smaller organizations that only need to add a few layers of objectives to their plan.
Option B: Create contributing objectives from multiple plans linking to the main objective
This approach creates a network of aligned strategic plans within your organization. Each plan contains a set of focus areas and one single layer of objectives, each with its own set of projects, actions, and KPIs. This concept looks like this:
This example illustrates an objective that is a main objective in the IT strategic plan , but also contributes to the main strategic plan's objective.
For example, let’s say that your main business objective is to improve customer satisfaction by reducing product delivery time by 25% in the next quarter. This objective requires multiple operational teams within your organization to work together to achieve a shared objective.
Each team will create its own objective in its plan to contribute to the main objective:
- Logistics team: Reduce the shipment preparation time by 30%
- IT team: Implement new technology to reduce manual handling in the warehouse
- Production team: Increase production output by hour for 5%
Here’s how this example would look like within Cascade platform:
Although each contributing objective was originally created in its own plan, you can see how each contributing objective relates to the main strategic objective and its status in real-time.
2. Shared objectives
In Cascade, shared objectives are the same objectives shared across different strategic plans.
For example, you can have an objective that is “Achieve sustainable operations”. This objective can be part of the Corporate Strategy Plan, but also part of the Operations Plan , Supply Chain Plan , Production Plan, etc. In short, this objective becomes a shared objective between multiple teams and strategic plan.
This approach helps you to:
- Cascade your business strategy as deep as you want across a near-infinite number of people while maintaining strategic alignment throughout your organization .
- Create transparency and a much higher level of engagement in the strategy throughout your organization since objective owners are able to identify how their shared efforts contribute to the success of the main business objectives.
The more shared objectives you have across your organization, the more your teams will be aligned with the overarching business strategy. This is what we call " alignment health ”.
Here’s how you can see the shared objectives in the alignment map and analyze alignment health within Cascade:
You get a snapshot of how is your corporate strategic plan aligned with sub-plans from different business units or departments and the status of shared objectives. This helps you quickly identify misaligned initiatives and act before it’s too late. Plus, cross-functional teams have better visibility of how their efforts contribute to shared objectives.
So whether you choose contributing objectives or shared objectives, Cascade has the tools and features to help you achieve organization-wide alignment and boost your bottom line.
Quick Overview Of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan
Here’s a quick infographic to help you remember how everything connects and why each element is critical to creating an effective strategic plan:
This simple answer to how to write a strategic plan avoids confusing jargon and has elements that the whole organization can both get behind and understand.
💡Tip: Save this image or bookmark this article for your next strategic planning session.
If you're struggling to write an execution-ready strategic plan, the Cascade model is the solution you've been looking for. With its clear, easy-to-understand terminology, and simple linkages between objectives, projects, and KPIs, you can create a plan that's both scalable and flexible.
But why is a flexible and execution-ready strategic plan so important? It's simple: without a clear and actionable plan, you'll never be able to achieve your business objectives. By using the Cascade Strategic Planning Model, you'll be able to create a plan that's both tangible and measurable, with KPIs that help you track progress towards your goals.
However, the real value of the Cascade framework lies in its flexibility . By creating links between main business objectives and your teams’ objectives, you can easily scale your plan without losing focus. Plus, the model's structure of linked layers means that you can always adjust your strategy in response to new challenges or opportunities and keep everyone on the same page.
So if you want to achieve results with your strategic plan, start using Cascade today. With its unique combination of flexibility and focus, it's the perfect tool for any organization looking to master strategy execution and succeed in today's fast-paced business world.
Want to see Cascade in action? Get started for free or book a 1:1 demo with Cascade’s in-house strategy expert.
This article is part one of our mini-series "How to Write a Strategic Plan". This first article will give you a solid strategy model for your plan and get the strategic thinking going.
Think of it as the foundation for your new strategy. Subsequent parts of the series will show you how to create the content for your strategic plan.
Articles in our How to Write a Strategic Plan series
- How To Write A Strategic Plan: The Cascade Model (This article)
- How to Write a Good Vision Statement
- How To Create Company Values
- Creating Strategic Focus Areas
- How To Write Strategic Objective
- How To Create Effective Projects
- How To Write KPIs + Ultimate Guide To Strategic Planning
More resources on strategic planning and strategy execution:
- 6 Steps to Successful Strategy Execution
- 4-Step Strategy Reporting Process (With Template)
- Annual Planning: Plan Like a Pro In 5 Steps (+ Template)
- 18 Free Strategic Plan Templates (Excel & Cascade) 2023
- The Right Way To Set Team Goals
- 23 Best Strategy Tools For Your Organization in 2023
4 Drivers Of Bad Executive Decision-Making
How To Implement The Balanced Scorecard Framework (With Examples)
CSO’s Guide To Effective Strategic Management Process
How To Run Effective Quarterly Business Reviews
Your toolkit for strategy success.
- Business strategy |
- 7 strategic planning models, plus 8 fra ...
7 strategic planning models, plus 8 frameworks to help you get started
Strategic planning is vital in defining where your business is going in the next three to five years. With the right strategic planning models and frameworks, you can uncover opportunities, identify risks, and create a strategic plan to fuel your organization’s success. We list the most popular models and frameworks and explain how you can combine them to create a strategic plan that fits your business.
A strategic plan is a great tool to help you hit your business goals . But sometimes, this tool needs to be updated to reflect new business priorities or changing market conditions. If you decide to use a model that already exists, you can benefit from a roadmap that’s already created. The model you choose can improve your knowledge of what works best in your organization, uncover unknown strengths and weaknesses, or help you find out how you can outpace your competitors.
In this article, we cover the most common strategic planning models and frameworks and explain when to use which one. Plus, get tips on how to apply them and which models and frameworks work well together.
Strategic planning models vs. frameworks
First off: This is not a one-or-nothing scenario. You can use as many or as few strategic planning models and frameworks as you like.
When your organization undergoes a strategic planning phase, you should first pick a model or two that you want to apply. This will provide you with a basic outline of the steps to take during the strategic planning process.
During that process, think of strategic planning frameworks as the tools in your toolbox. Many models suggest starting with a SWOT analysis or defining your vision and mission statements first. Depending on your goals, though, you may want to apply several different frameworks throughout the strategic planning process.
For example, if you’re applying a scenario-based strategic plan, you could start with a SWOT and PEST(LE) analysis to get a better overview of your current standing. If one of the weaknesses you identify has to do with your manufacturing process, you could apply the theory of constraints to improve bottlenecks and mitigate risks.
Now that you know the difference between the two, learn more about the seven strategic planning models, as well as the eight most commonly used frameworks that go along with them.
1. Basic model
The basic strategic planning model is ideal for establishing your company’s vision, mission, business objectives, and values. This model helps you outline the specific steps you need to take to reach your goals, monitor progress to keep everyone on target, and address issues as they arise.
If it’s your first strategic planning session, the basic model is the way to go. Later on, you can embellish it with other models to adjust or rewrite your business strategy as needed. Let’s take a look at what kinds of businesses can benefit from this strategic planning model and how to apply it.
Small businesses or organizations
Companies with little to no strategic planning experience
Organizations with few resources
Write your mission statement. Gather your planning team and have a brainstorming session. The more ideas you can collect early in this step, the more fun and rewarding the analysis phase will feel.
Identify your organization’s goals . Setting clear business goals will increase your team’s performance and positively impact their motivation.
Outline strategies that will help you reach your goals. Ask yourself what steps you have to take in order to reach these goals and break them down into long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals .
Create action plans to implement each of the strategies above. Action plans will keep teams motivated and your organization on target.
Monitor and revise the plan as you go . As with any strategic plan, it’s important to closely monitor if your company is implementing it successfully and how you can adjust it for a better outcome.
2. Issue-based model
Also called goal-based planning model, this is essentially an extension of the basic strategic planning model. It’s a bit more dynamic and very popular for companies that want to create a more comprehensive plan.
Organizations with basic strategic planning experience
Businesses that are looking for a more comprehensive plan
Conduct a SWOT analysis . Assess your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with a SWOT analysis to get a better overview of what your strategic plan should focus on. We’ll give into how to conduct a SWOT analysis when we get into the strategic planning frameworks below.
Identify and prioritize major issues and/or goals. Based on your SWOT analysis, identify and prioritize what your strategic plan should focus on this time around.
Develop your main strategies that address these issues and/or goals. Aim to develop one overarching strategy that addresses your highest-priority goal and/or issue to keep this process as simple as possible.
Update or create a mission and vision statement . Make sure that your business’s statements align with your new or updated strategy. If you haven’t already, this is also a chance for you to define your organization’s values.
Create action plans. These will help you address your organization’s goals, resource needs, roles, and responsibilities.
Develop a yearly operational plan document. This model works best if your business repeats the strategic plan implementation process on an annual basis, so use a yearly operational plan to capture your goals, progress, and opportunities for next time.
Allocate resources for your year-one operational plan. Whether you need funding or dedicated team members to implement your first strategic plan, now is the time to allocate all the resources you’ll need.
Monitor and revise the strategic plan. Record your lessons learned in the operational plan so you can revisit and improve it for the next strategic planning phase.
The issue-based plan can repeat on an annual basis (or less often once you resolve the issues). It’s important to update the plan every time it’s in action to ensure it’s still doing the best it can for your organization.
You don’t have to repeat the full process every year—rather, focus on what’s a priority during this run.
3. Alignment model
This model is also called strategic alignment model (SAM) and is one of the most popular strategic planning models. It helps you align your business and IT strategies with your organization’s strategic goals.
You’ll have to consider four equally important, yet different perspectives when applying the alignment strategic planning model:
Strategy execution: The business strategy driving the model
Technology potential: The IT strategy supporting the business strategy
Competitive potential: Emerging IT capabilities that can create new products and services
Service level: Team members dedicated to creating the best IT system in the organization
Ideally, your strategy will check off all the criteria above—however, it’s more likely you’ll have to find a compromise.
Here’s how to create a strategic plan using the alignment model and what kinds of companies can benefit from it.
Organizations that need to fine-tune their strategies
Businesses that want to uncover issues that prevent them from aligning with their mission
Companies that want to reassess objectives or correct problem areas that prevent them from growing
Outline your organization’s mission, programs, resources, and where support is needed. Before you can improve your statements and approaches, you need to define what exactly they are.
Identify what internal processes are working and which ones aren’t. Pinpoint which processes are causing problems, creating bottlenecks , or could otherwise use improving. Then prioritize which internal processes will have the biggest positive impact on your business.
Identify solutions. Work with the respective teams when you’re creating a new strategy to benefit from their experience and perspective on the current situation.
Update your strategic plan with the solutions. Update your strategic plan and monitor if implementing it is setting your business up for improvement or growth. If not, you may have to return to the drawing board and update your strategic plan with new solutions.
4. Scenario model
The scenario model works great if you combine it with other models like the basic or issue-based model. This model is particularly helpful if you need to consider external factors as well. These can be government regulations, technical, or demographic changes that may impact your business.
Organizations trying to identify strategic issues and goals caused by external factors
Identify external factors that influence your organization. For example, you should consider demographic, regulation, or environmental factors.
Review the worst case scenario the above factors could have on your organization. If you know what the worst case scenario for your business looks like, it’ll be much easier to prepare for it. Besides, it’ll take some of the pressure and surprise out of the mix, should a scenario similar to the one you create actually occur.
Identify and discuss two additional hypothetical organizational scenarios. On top of your worst case scenario, you’ll also want to define the best case and average case scenarios. Keep in mind that the worst case scenario from the previous step can often provoke strong motivation to change your organization for the better. However, discussing the other two will allow you to focus on the positive—the opportunities your business may have ahead.
Identify and suggest potential strategies or solutions. Everyone on the team should now brainstorm different ways your business could potentially respond to each of the three scenarios. Discuss the proposed strategies as a team afterward.
Uncover common considerations or strategies for your organization. There’s a good chance that your teammates come up with similar solutions. Decide which ones you like best as a team or create a new one together.
Identify the most likely scenario and the most reasonable strategy. Finally, examine which of the three scenarios is most likely to occur in the next three to five years and how your business should respond to potential changes.
5. Self-organizing model
Also called the organic planning model, the self-organizing model is a bit different from the linear approaches of the other models. You’ll have to be very patient with this method.
This strategic planning model is all about focusing on the learning and growing process rather than achieving a specific goal. Since the organic model concentrates on continuous improvement , the process is never really over.
Large organizations that can afford to take their time
Businesses that prefer a more naturalistic, organic planning approach that revolves around common values, communication, and shared reflection
Companies that have a clear understanding of their vision
Define and communicate your organization’s cultural values . Your team can only think clearly and with solutions in mind when they have a clear understanding of your organization's values.
Communicate the planning group’s vision for the organization. Define and communicate the vision with everyone involved in the strategic planning process. This will align everyone’s ideas with your company’s vision.
Discuss what processes will help realize the organization’s vision on a regular basis. Meet every quarter to discuss strategies or tactics that will move your organization closer to realizing your vision.
6. Real-time model
This fluid model can help organizations that deal with rapid changes to their work environment. There are three levels of success in the real-time model:
Organizational: At the organizational level, you’re forming strategies in response to opportunities or trends.
Programmatic: At the programmatic level, you have to decide how to respond to specific outcomes or environmental changes.
Operational: On the operational level, you will study internal systems, policies, and people to develop a strategy for your company.
Figuring out your competitive advantage can be difficult, but this is absolutely crucial to ensure success. Whether it’s a unique asset or strength your organization has or an outstanding execution of services or programs—it’s important that you can set yourself apart from others in the industry to succeed.
Companies that need to react quickly to changing environments
Businesses that are seeking new tools to help them align with their organizational strategy
Define your mission and vision statement. If you ever feel stuck formulating your company’s mission or vision statement, take a look at those of others. Maybe Asana’s vision statement sparks some inspiration.
Research, understand, and learn from competitor strategy and market trends. Pick a handful of competitors in your industry and find out how they’ve created success for themselves. How did they handle setbacks or challenges? What kinds of challenges did they even encounter? Are these common scenarios in the market? Learn from your competitors by finding out as much as you can about them.
Study external environments. At this point, you can combine the real-time model with the scenario model to find solutions to threats and opportunities outside of your control.
Conduct a SWOT analysis of your internal processes, systems, and resources. Besides the external factors your team has to consider, it’s also important to look at your company’s internal environment and how well you’re prepared for different scenarios.
Develop a strategy. Discuss the results of your SWOT analysis to develop a business strategy that builds toward organizational, programmatic, and operational success.
Rinse and repeat. Monitor how well the new strategy is working for your organization and repeat the planning process as needed to ensure you’re on top or, perhaps, ahead of the game.
7. Inspirational model
This last strategic planning model is perfect to inspire and energize your team as they work toward your organization’s goals. It’s also a great way to introduce or reconnect your employees to your business strategy after a merger or acquisition.
Businesses with a dynamic and inspired start-up culture
Organizations looking for inspiration to reinvigorate the creative process
Companies looking for quick solutions and strategy shifts
Gather your team to discuss an inspirational vision for your organization. The more people you can gather for this process, the more input you will receive.
Brainstorm big, hairy audacious goals and ideas. Encouraging your team not to hold back with ideas that may seem ridiculous will do two things: for one, it will mitigate the fear of contributing bad ideas. But more importantly, it may lead to a genius idea or suggestion that your team wouldn’t have thought of if they felt like they had to think inside of the box.
Assess your organization’s resources. Find out if your company has the resources to implement your new ideas. If they don’t, you’ll have to either adjust your strategy or allocate more resources.
Develop a strategy balancing your resources and brainstorming ideas. Far-fetched ideas can grow into amazing opportunities but they can also bear great risk. Make sure to balance ideas with your strategic direction.
Now, let’s dive into the most commonly used strategic frameworks.
8. SWOT analysis framework
One of the most popular strategic planning frameworks is the SWOT analysis . A SWOT analysis is a great first step in identifying areas of opportunity and risk—which can help you create a strategic plan that accounts for growth and prepares for threats.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Here’s an example:
9. OKRs framework
A big part of strategic planning is setting goals for your company. That’s where OKRs come into play.
OKRs stand for objective and key results—this goal-setting framework helps your organization set and achieve goals. It provides a somewhat holistic approach that you can use to connect your team’s work to your organization’s big-picture goals. When team members understand how their individual work contributes to the organization’s success, they tend to be more motivated and produce better results
10. Balanced scorecard (BSC) framework
The balanced scorecard is a popular strategic framework for businesses that want to take a more holistic approach rather than just focus on their financial performance. It was designed by David Norton and Robert Kaplan in the 1990s, it’s used by companies around the globe to:
Align their team’s daily work with their company’s strategy
Prioritize products, services, and projects
Monitor their progress toward their strategic goals
Your balanced scorecard will outline four main business perspectives:
Customers or clients , meaning their value, satisfaction, and/or retention
Financial , meaning your effectiveness in using resources and your financial performance
Internal process , meaning your business’s quality and efficiency
Organizational capacity , meaning your organizational culture, infrastructure and technology, and human resources
With the help of a strategy map, you can visualize and communicate how your company is creating value. A strategy map is a simple graphic that shows cause-and-effect connections between strategic objectives.
The balanced scorecard framework is an amazing tool to use from outlining your mission, vision, and values all the way to implementing your strategic plan .
You can use an integration like Lucidchart to create strategy maps for your business in Asana.
11. Porter’s Five Forces framework
If you’re using the real-time strategic planning model, Porter’s Five Forces are a great framework to apply. You can use it to find out what your product’s or service’s competitive advantage is before entering the market.
Developed by Michael E. Porter , the framework outlines five forces you have to be aware of and monitor:
Threat of new industry entrants: Any new entry into the market results in increased pressure on prices and costs.
Competition in the industry: The more competitors that exist, the more difficult it will be for you to create value in the market with your product or service.
Bargaining power of suppliers: Suppliers can wield more power if there are less alternatives for buyers or it’s expensive, time consuming, or difficult to switch to a different supplier.
Bargaining power of buyers: Buyers can wield more power if the same product or service is available elsewhere with little to no difference in quality.
Threat of substitutes: If another company already covers the market’s needs, you’ll have to create a better product or service or make it available for a lower price at the same quality in order to compete.
Remember, industry structures aren’t static. The more dynamic your strategic plan is, the better you’ll be able to compete in a market.
12. VRIO framework
The VRIO framework is another strategic planning tool designed to help you evaluate your competitive advantage. VRIO stands for value, rarity, imitability, and organization.
It’s a resource-based theory developed by Jay Barney. With this framework, you can study your firmed resources and find out whether or not your company can transform them into sustained competitive advantages.
Firmed resources can be tangible (e.g., cash, tools, inventory, etc.) or intangible (e.g., copyrights, trademarks, organizational culture, etc.). Whether these resources will actually help your business once you enter the market depends on four qualities:
Valuable : Will this resource either increase your revenue or decrease your costs and thereby create value for your business?
Rare : Are the resources you’re using rare or can others use your resources as well and therefore easily provide the same product or service?
Inimitable : Are your resources either inimitable or non-substitutable? In other words, how unique and complex are your resources?
Organizational: Are you organized enough to use your resources in a way that captures their value, rarity, and inimitability?
It’s important that your resources check all the boxes above so you can ensure that you have sustained competitive advantage over others in the industry.
13. Theory of Constraints (TOC) framework
If the reason you’re currently in a strategic planning process is because you’re trying to mitigate risks or uncover issues that could hurt your business—this framework should be in your toolkit.
The theory of constraints (TOC) is a problem-solving framework that can help you identify limiting factors or bottlenecks preventing your organization from hitting OKRs or KPIs .
Whether it’s a policy, market, or recourse constraint—you can apply the theory of constraints to solve potential problems, respond to issues, and empower your team to improve their work with the resources they have.
14. PEST/PESTLE analysis framework
The idea of the PEST analysis is similar to that of the SWOT analysis except that you’re focusing on external factors and solutions. It’s a great framework to combine with the scenario-based strategic planning model as it helps you define external factors connected to your business’s success.
PEST stands for political, economic, sociological, and technological factors. Depending on your business model, you may want to expand this framework to include legal and environmental factors as well (PESTLE). These are the most common factors you can include in a PESTLE analysis:
Political: Taxes, trade tariffs, conflicts
Economic: Interest and inflation rate, economic growth patterns, unemployment rate
Social: Demographics, education, media, health
Technological: Communication, information technology, research and development, patents
Legal: Regulatory bodies, environmental regulations, consumer protection
Environmental: Climate, geographical location, environmental offsets
15. Hoshin Kanri framework
Hoshin Kanri is a great tool to communicate and implement strategic goals. It’s a planning system that involves the entire organization in the strategic planning process. The term is Japanese and stands for “compass management” and is also known as policy management.
This strategic planning framework is a top-down approach that starts with your leadership team defining long-term goals which are then aligned and communicated with every team member in the company.
You should hold regular meetings to monitor progress and update the timeline to ensure that every teammate’s contributions are aligned with the overarching company goals.
Stick to your strategic goals
Whether you’re a small business just starting out or a nonprofit organization with decades of experience, strategic planning is a crucial step in your journey to success.
If you’re looking for a tool that can help you and your team define, organize, and implement your strategic goals, Asana is here to help. Our goal-setting software allows you to connect all of your team members in one place, visualize progress, and stay on target.
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Strategic Plan Examples | Best 11 Tools For Effective Strategic Planning, Updated in 2023
Jane Ng • 17 Sep 2023 • 10 min read
Looking for Strategic Plan Examples? Having a strategic plan is essential for any business or organization’s growth. A well-crafted plan can make all the difference in the success of your venture. It helps you have a realistic vision for the future and maximize the company’s potential.
So, if you struggle to develop a strategic plan for your business or organization. In this blog post, we will discuss a strategic plan example and tools that can serve as a guide to help you create a successful plan.
Table of Contents
What is a strategic plan, strategic plan examples, tools for effective strategic planning, how ahaslides help you with strategic planning, key takeaways, frequently asked questions, tips for better engagement.
- Strategy Formulation
- Scenario Planning Examples
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A strategic plan is a plan that outlines an organization’s long-term goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving them.
It is a roadmap that helps your organization prepare and allocate resources, efforts, and actions to achieve its vision and mission.
Specifically, a strategic plan usually lasts 3-5 years and may require the organization to evaluate its current position with its strengths, weaknesses, potential, and competitive level. Based on this analysis, the organization will define its strategic goals and objectives (they need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
Following that, the plan will list the required steps and actions to achieve these goals, as well as the resources needed, timelines, and performance measures to track progress and success.
To guarantee success, your strategic plan needs tools that help with planning, management, communication, collaboration, and accountability to help the organization stay focused and stick to the workflow.
Here are some strategic planning models your business can use:
1/ SWOT Analysis – Strategic Plan Example
The SWOT Analysis model was developed by Albert Humphrey . This model is a well-known business analysis model for organizations that want to create a strategic plan by evaluating four factors:
- S – Strengths
- W – Weaknesses
- O – Opportunities
- T – Threats
With these factors, your organization can understand its current situation, advantages, and areas where need to improve. In addition, your organization can identify the external threats that may affect it and the opportunities to seize in the present or the future.
After having such an overview, organizations will have a solid basis for effective planning, avoiding risks later.
Strategic Plan Example: To help you better understand how to use SWOT analysis to develop a strategic plan, we will give an example.
You have a small business that sells handmade soap products. Here is a SWOT analysis of your business:
Based on this SWOT analysis, your business can develop a strategic plan that focuses on
- Expand product distribution channels
- Developing new product lines
- Improve online marketing and advertising
With this strategy, you can leverage your strengths, such as high-quality products and personalized customer service.
2/ Balanced Scorecard Model – Strategic Plan Example
Balanced Scorecard Model is a strategic planning model that helps businesses develop sustainably and reliably through all 4 aspects:
- Financial: Organizations need to measure and monitor financial results, including fixed costs, depreciation expenses, return on investment, return on investment, revenue growth rate, etc.
- Customers: Organizations need to measure and evaluate customer satisfaction, along with their ability to meet customer needs.
- Internal process: Organizations need to measure and evaluate how well they are doing.
- Learning & Growth: Organizations focus on training and helping their employees develop, helping them improve their knowledge and skills to maintain a competitive edge in the market.
Strategic Plan Example: Here is an example to help you understand more about this model:
Assuming you are the owner of a famous coffee brand, here is how you apply this model to your strategic plan.
The Balanced Scorecard model ensures that a business is considering all aspects of its operations and provides a framework for measuring progress and adjusting strategies as needed.
3/ Blue Ocean Strategy Model – Strategic Plan Example
Blue Ocean Strategy Model is a strategy of developing and expanding a new market in which there is no competition or competition is unnecessary.
There are six basic principles for the successful implementation of a blue ocean strategy.
- Reconstruct market boundaries: Businesses need to rebuild market boundaries to break out of competition and form blue oceans.
- Focus on the big picture, not the numbers: Businesses need to focus on the big picture when planning their strategy. Don’t get bogged down in details.
- Go beyond the existing demands: Instead of focusing on existing products or services, they need to identify those who are non-customers or potential customers.
- Get the strategic sequence right: Businesses need to create a value proposition that differentiates them and adjust internal processes, systems, and people.
- Overcome organizational obstacles. To successfully implement the Blue Ocean Strategy, the business will need buy-in from all levels of the organization and communicate strategy effectively.
- Strategy Execution. Businesses implement strategy while minimizing operational risks and preventing sabotage from within.
Strategic Plan Example: The following is an example of applications of the Blue Ocean Model.
Let’s continue to assume that you are an organic soap business owner.
- Reconstruct market boundaries: Your business can define a new market space by creating a line of soaps that are only for sensitive skin.
- Focus on the big picture, not the numbers: Instead of just focusing on profits, your business can create value for customers by emphasizing natural and organic ingredients in soap products.
- Go beyond the existing demands: You can tap into new demand by identifying non-customers, such as those with sensitive skin. Then create compelling reasons for them to use your product.
- Get the strategic sequence right: Your business can create a value proposition that sets it apart from competitors, in this case with natural and organic ingredients. Then align its internal processes, systems, and people to deliver on that promise.
- Overcome organizational obstacles: To successfully implement this strategy, your business needs support from all levels of stakeholders for this new product.
- Strategy Execution: Your business can build performance metrics and adjust the strategy over time to ensure they’re performing effectively.
Here are some popular tools to help you have an effective strategic plan:
Tools For Data Gathering and Analysis
#1 – pest analysis.
PEST is an analysis tool that helps your business understand the “big picture” of the business environment (usually macro-environmental) in which you are participating, thereby identifying opportunities and potential threats.
PEST Analysis will evaluate this environment through the following 4 factors:
- Politics: Institutional and legal factors can affect the viability and development of any industry.
- Economics: Organizations need to pay attention to both short-term and long-term economic factors and government intervention to decide which industries and areas to invest in.
- Social: Each country and territory has its own unique cultural values and social factors. These factors create the characteristics of consumers in those regions, which make a huge impact on all products, services, markets, and consumers.
- Technology: Technology is an important factor because it has a profound impact on products, services, markets, suppliers, distributors, competitors, customers, manufacturing processes, marketing practices, and the position of organizations.
PEST analysis helps your business understand the business environment. From there, you can map out a clear strategic plan, make the most of the opportunities that come your way, minimize the threats and easily overcome the challenges.
#2 – Porter’s Five Forces
Five Forces represent 5 competitive forces that need to be analyzed to assess the long-term attractiveness of a market or a segment in a particular industry, thereby helping your business have an effective development strategy.
Here are those 5 forces
- Threat from new opponents
- Power of suppliers
- Threat from substitute products and services
- Power of customers
- The fierce competition of competitors in the same industry
These five factors have a dialectical relationship with each other, showing the competition in the industry. Therefore, you need to analyze these factors and develop strategies to identify what is particularly attractive and outstanding for the business.
#3 – SWOT Analysis
More than being a model for strategic planning, SWOT is a valuable tool for conducting market analysis. By utilizing SWOT, you can pinpoint the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your organization before implementing a successful strategy.
Tools For Strategy Development and Implementation
#4 – scenario planning .
Scenario planning is a strategic planning tool that considers multiple future scenarios and evaluates their potential for an organization.
The scenario planning process has two stages:
- Identifying the key uncertainties and trends that could shape the future.
- Developing multiple response scenarios based on those factors.
Each scenario describes a different possible future, with its own unique set of assumptions and outcomes. By considering these scenarios, your organization can better understand various possible futures it may face, and develop strategies that are more resilient and adaptable.
#5 – Value Chain Analysis
The Value Chain Analysis model is an analytical tool for understanding how the activities within your organization will create value for customers.
There are three steps to performing a value chain analysis for an organization:
- Divide the organization’s activities into main activities and supporting activities
- Cost breakdown for each activity
- Identify the fundamental activities that create customer satisfaction and organizational success
From the three steps above, your organization can more effectively measure its capabilities by identifying and evaluating each activity. Then each value-creation activity is considered a resource to create a competitive advantage for the organization.
#6 – Critical Success Factors
Critical Success Factors (CSF) refer to the causes that lead to the success of a business or set out what employees need to do to help their business to achieve success.
Some helpful questions for determining your business’s CSF include:
- What factors are likely to lead to the desired outcome of the business?
- What requirements must exist to produce that result?
- What tools does the business need to achieve that goal?
- What skills does the business need to achieve that goal?
By defining the CSF, your business can create a common reference point for what it needs to do to achieve its goals, thereby motivating the workforce to get there.
#7 – A Balanced Scorecard
Besides being a model for strategic planning, A Balanced Scorecard is a performance management tool that helps you track progress toward your strategic objectives. It also helps you to measure and communicate your progress to stakeholders.
#8 – Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas
Apart from functioning as a strategic planning model, the Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas assists in recognizing new market opportunities by aligning your organization’s offerings with those of your competitors.
By using this tool, you can identify areas where your organization can stand out and generate new demand.
Tools For Measurement and Evaluation
#9 – key performance indicators.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a tools to measure and evaluate work performance. KPIs are usually expressed through numbers, ratios, and quantitative indicators, to reflect the performance of groups or divisions of the business.
KPIs help businesses monitor and evaluate the performance of employees in a transparent, clear, specific, and fair manner thanks to specific data.
>> Learn more about KPI versus OKR
Tools For Brainstorming
#10 – mind mapping.
Mind mapping is a visual tool that can be used during the strategic planning process to help with brainstorming and organizing ideas. It is a method of visually representing information and ideas by drawing a diagram.
Besides helping discover new ideas, it helps to find connections between various strategic objectives, which can ensure that the strategic plan is comprehensive and effective.
AhaSlides offers several features that can be useful for your strategic planning.
AhaSlides allows you to create engaging and interactive presentations that can be used to communicate complex ideas or gather feedback. Along with pre-made templates , we also have features like live polls , quizzes , and live Q&A sessions that help you encourage engagement. As well as ensuring that all stakeholders have a voice and can provide input into the planning process.
Besides, the word cloud allows team members to collaborate and generate new ideas during strategic planning, which can help identify new opportunities or solutions to challenges that may arise.
Overall, AhaSlides is a valuable tool for strategic planning since it promotes communication, cooperation, and data-driven decision-making.
Having a well-defined strategic plan example is critical for any organization to achieve its goals and objectives. Therefore, with the information in the article, your organization may develop a complete strategic plan that is in line with its vision and mission, resulting in long-term growth and success.
And do not forget by using various strategic planning tools and models such as SWOT analysis, Balanced Scorecard, and Blue Ocean Strategy,… your organization can identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, track progress toward its goals, and develop innovative strategies to differentiate itself in the market.
Besides, digital tools like AhaSlides can aid in the effectiveness of the strategic planning process.
Best IT strategic plan example?
Creating a comprehensive IT strategic plan is essential for organizations to align their technology initiatives with their overall business goals. While there isn’t a single “best” IT strategic plan that fits all organizations, please remember that the Key Initiatives should include: (1) Identification of major IT initiatives and projects for the planning period. (2) Detailed descriptions of each initiative, including objectives, scope, and expected outcomes. and (3) Alignment of each initiative with specific strategic goals.
What is effective strategic planning?
Effective strategic planning is a structured and forward-thinking process that organizations use to define their long-term vision, set clear objectives, and determine the actions required to achieve their goals. Effective strategic planning goes beyond creating a document; it involves engaging stakeholders, aligning resources, and continually adapting to changing circumstances.
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More from AhaSlides
How to Create a Long-Term Strategy in 5 Smart Steps
- Leadership & Management
- May 18, 2023
- By Natallia Slimani
“ Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago .” ― Warren Buffett
No business enterprise, whether it’s e-commerce or a law firm, can do well without a solid long-term strategy.
Yet, only 63 percent of small business owners plan strategically just a year (or less) in advance . According to the findings, small business owners tend to prioritize immediate business objectives over long-term strategic plans.
No wonder 67 percent of strategic planning fails .
For tangible and constant success, you’ll agree with us that setting a long-term plan is the only effective way to strengthen your bottom line and tackle challenges as they arise.
However, creating a long-term plan can be a daunting task for most people. But it doesn’t have to be. In this post, we share five steps for creating a long-term strategy to help point you in the right direction as you work toward growth and success .
What Is Long-Term Planning?
Long-term planning is a comprehensive framework that defines the goals for the future of the business. It’s creating a strategy that allows you to prioritize work and monitor your progress toward the end goals.
In long-term planning, goals may take several years to accomplish. One of the purposes of long-term planning is to see gradual improvement within your organization over a long period.
Here are some examples of long-term goals :
- Personal development goals: complete my first marathon, commit to a fitness routine, live abroad, etc.
- Professional development goals : get promoted to a senior position, master a job-specific skill, earn a professional certificate, etc.
- Financial goals: buy my first home, finish my car loan, save money towards a big vacation, start my own business, etc.
What Is Short-Term Planning?
Short-term planning involves looking at the characteristics of the company in the present and developing strategies to improve them. Usually, short-term planning aims for an immediate period, often less than a one-year timeframe.
Short-term planning is crucial as it facilitates long-term achievements, improves your company’s bottom line, or satisfies investors who want to see results.
Examples of short-term goals:
- Personal development goals: create a morning routine, sleep more, read a book a week, walk more.
- Career goals: keeping a tidy, well-organized desk, learning to collaborate and communicate better with coworkers, completing an online course.
- Financial goals: reduce credit card debt, create a savings plan, keep track of the daily or weekly budget, learn how to invest.
The Key Differences Between Short- and Long-Term Planning
Short-term planning evaluates your progress in the present and is conducted for immediate concerns. That is, it creates an action plan to improve daily performance.
On the contrary, long-term planning guides the company in a strategic direction where the business stability and long-term goals are evaluated in the projected future. Usually, long-term goals take 12 or more months to achieve.
Another key difference between short-term and long-term planning is the area of focus. In short-term planning, the company focuses on internal issues such as employee training, management changes, and customer complaints. Thus, management formulates a mitigation plan where they can see results within a short time span.
In long-term planning, the company focus is on external and internal issues that might have an impact on the overall business performance. External issues may include global economic changes and political situations prevailing in the country.
Usually, long-term planning is more complex and tactical, while short-term planning is straightforward.
Long-Term Planning Vs. Strategic Planning
Strategic planning involves mapping out a clear path or guidance of where you’re going, where you’ll be in the next few years or more, how you’ll get there and how you’ll know if you got there or not.
Strategic planning focuses on the entire organization, including its vision, mission, objectives, and strategy. Effective strategic management is an ongoing practice, meaning there will be room for adjustment and revisions to plans once conditions change. This is to ensure the sustainability and continuity of company operations over the years.
Strategic planning isn’t actionable. Once a strategy is developed, long-term planning is conducted to determine and set the order of priorities, align resources, predict challenges, and formulate mitigation steps.
While strategic planning is all about the what and how, long-term planning is concerned with setting the process by which the strategic plan will be achieved. Planning helps you align project goals and coordinate departments to ensure they are in sync and ready to execute the plan based on a determined timeframe and milestones.
The Importance of Strategic Planning
Establishing a long-term strategy can help your business in several ways:
A perspective that’s too narrow only allows you to see what’s in front of you. On the contrary, making decisions with a long-term view expands your gaze to what the future might look like.
Long-term strategies occur over an extended period, meaning you get the time and ability to make plans to mitigate potential risks. In addition, long-term strategies allow you to set higher ambitions since you have the time to review the process, track results, and make necessary adjustments.
Budgeting is crucial for any business, and developing long-term strategies can facilitate the creation of practical budgets. That is, it lets you spread costs throughout your strategy. Plus, budgeting a part of your revenue or profits over an extended period allows you to properly fund new initiatives without weakening ongoing ones.
Test marketing is the process of testing the popularity of a new product by introducing it to customers for a small amount of time. A long-term strategy allows you to implement test marketing since you have ample time to make manageable changes with less risk.
This reduces costs if the initiative doesn’t succeed, and you can monitor how customers react to the new product gradually.
5 Steps to Set a Long-Term Strategy
1. define your personal and company vision or purpose.
Before anything else, you need to establish a company vision. This is a summary statement that captures things like:
- Where are you going?
- What are your core values?
- What do you want your business to be in three, five, or 10 years?
- What changes or implementations will facilitate achieving your long-term goals?
- What challenges are you facing right now that are keeping you from reaching your potential?
Defining your company purpose clarifies your goals and gives you and the entire team something to work toward. Your company vision should be brief, realistic, and not overly ambitious.
Here are a few examples of vision statements from some of the largest corporations today:
- Google : “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”
- Microsoft : “To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.”
- Amazon : “Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
- Tesla : “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”
Once you define your company vision, you can create your personal vision that doesn’t need to be shared with the team. Your personal vision encompasses what you intend your business to bring to your life.
Is it early retirement, financial stability, enormous growth, or getting more time to spend with family?
Your personal vision should align with your company vision to achieve your personal and professional goals. Just like your company vision, keep your personal vision brief and realistic.
2. Identify SMART Goals
“ A goal without a plan is just a wish ” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Goals give you a sense of direction and make it easier to measure results. A study by Locke and Latham revealed that 90 percent of people perform better if they set specific and challenging goals.
Setting goals has been shown to keep a person persistent in business success. A study conducted by the University of Texas proved that entrepreneurs remained persistent with their business efforts when they kept challenging themselves to achieve goals.
It, therefore, goes without saying that goals (whether personal development, career, professional, or financial goals), should be S.M.A.R.T.
Specific -> You must answer the question: what do you want to do? Having a goal that’s as specific and well-defined as possible ensures your focus is narrow, efficient, and precise. For example, if your goal is to save money, make sure you define how much money you want to save.
Measurable -> How will you know if you’re making progress if you don’t measure progress? Setting measurable goals allows you to track progress by identifying milestones and celebrating achievements. For example, how much money have you saved for the last three months? Are you on track?
Achievable -> While it’s wise to set challenging goals, they shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. Unrealistic goals are the gateway to failure, frustration, and demotivation. Ensuring your goals are attainable will keep you motivated and facilitate greater success. For example, if your goal is to save money, is the amount realistic?
Relevant -> You will have varied goals, depending on the department, project, or client. To ensure a goal is beneficial to you, your team, and the company, ensure it’s relevant and aligns with your company values. To help you set relevant goals, ask yourself why the goal is important, how accomplishing it will help you, and how it will contribute toward the long-term goals.
Time-bound -> a great goal should follow a specific time frame. So, instead of saying “I want to read more books,” you could say, “I want to read five books by the end of the month.” Here’s another example: “I want to have $50,000 in savings in the next 12 months.”
Now, within each long-term goal, you can break them down into short-term, manageable goals – each with its own time frame and timeline, including reminders.
3. Outline Your Strategies
Now that you’ve set goals, how do you plan to achieve them? Outline the steps you’ll take to meet your short- and long-term goals. Depending on the number of goals you’ve identified, you may develop multiple strategies.
Your goal is to gain a large following for your company on all your social media platforms. Some of the potential steps you can take include posting relevant content more often, hiring a social media manager, or offering fun competitions and freebies.
If your goal is to develop a new product or service, your strategy could look something like this:
- Research what competitors are offering
- Get in touch with suppliers
- Formulate a development plan
- Hire the right team to develop the product or service
- Establish a marketing plan for the new product or service
4. Develop a Timeline
Now that you have your goals and strategies outlined, you need a schedule or timeline to help you determine when you want to start and complete different tasks. The most important thing to remember when setting timelines is to be realistic.
You want enough time to meet your deadlines while ensuring high-quality work. In addition, keep your timeline flexible to accommodate any unexpected changes or challenges along the way.
Most importantly, collaborate with your team when developing timelines and revise and edit as needed. You want everyone to be comfortable with the timeline to complete their tasks on time.
5. Track Progress
For your long-term strategies to be effective, the results should be assessed and tracked. This helps determine if the plan is working or where it needs improvement. Likewise, measuring results motivates your team to keep investing their energy and efforts, especially when they see positive results.
Moreover, the information you get from measuring your strategy can be valuable when revising the plan if it’s not working or to make it even better.
To effectively measure ongoing results, select benchmarks with which to gauge the success. Measuring goals allows you to compare the level of results to the set expectations, and hence draw a clear line of conclusion on the effectiveness of the plan.
Useful Tips to Guide You When Creating a Long-Term Strategy
- Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis : this helps you determine the current level of your business so you can make sound decisions and predictions for how it can grow.
- Be flexible : stay prepared for unexpected opportunities and challenges that may arise.
- Stay motivated : keep in mind that your strategies won’t be perfect. Sometimes they will work, sometimes they will fail. No matter the outcome, stay positive and keep pushing. When something seems unattainable, you can always ask for help from experts or members of your team.
- Review and update regularly : an effective strategy is dynamic and changeable. Plus, trends change, and their impact can greatly affect your business. Reassessing regularly ensures you stay up to date with the current trend and keep all your strategies viable.
- Communicate with your team : you can’t get much done if you don’t get team buy-in. Communicating openly the strategies and changes you plan to implement and seeking feedback from team members will promote better participation and long-term success.
What Are the Challenges in Long-Term Planning?
Effective long-term planning is difficult to achieve. As Taylor Swift aptly puts it: “ Just because you make a good plan, doesn’t mean that’s what’s gonna happen .” You’ll face challenges, issues, and barriers that may stop you before executing your plans.
Here are five common long-term challenges to watch out for:
- Inadequate planning . Not everyone can plan. Putting the wrong people on the task force may lead to failure since they don’t know how to conduct a proper planning process.
- Poor communication . Communication is at the crux of every business issue. Where there is a lack of effective collaboration and cohesiveness, teams won’t be able to work in sync. The solution is to leverage digital collaboration or whiteboard tools to facilitate effective communication between teams.
- Lack of commitment to the planning process . Developing a long-term plan is hard work and time-consuming. A manager would rather claim they don’t have time to work through the planning process than actually devote time to it. Some managers also don’t want to commit to the process for fear of failure. As a result, they may choose to do little or nothing in the planning process.
- Over-reliance on technology . Technology can change rather quickly, and a plan that’s too dependent on it can become useless if technology changes.
- Focusing on the present instead of the future . “The trouble with many plans is that they are based on the way things are now. To be successful, your personal plan must focus on what you want, not what you have.” ― Nido Qubein, president of High Point University. Managers and leaders need to see the “big picture” when developing their long-term plans. Planning must be on a continuum from the past to the present to the future.
The good news is that these challenges can be overcome. Business leaders and managers need to identify what isn’t working and make changes accordingly.
Track Progress the Right Way
Regardless of the type of goals you want to achieve for your business, it’s imperative to establish a long-term plan. But it doesn’t end there. You need to monitor and measure the effectiveness of the plan to determine if it’s working and whether it’s on the right track.
Traqq is a good choice when it comes to monitoring employee performance for the features it offers:
- It tracks employee performance and lets you generate weekly team analyses and reports.
- It gives insights into what’s wasting time for the teams.
- It provides an overview of activity level peaks and drops and helps you determine the root cause of the problems.
- It gives you access to custom onboarding and automated productivity tracking features.
As you’ve learned, creating a long-term strategy isn’t as complicated and daunting as it sounds. All you need to do is: define your company vision, set SMART goals, create strategies, work with a timeline, and measure the progress of your results.
Get started with Traqq today
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