Strategic Planning

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I guess that sooner or later if we are talking about business and organizations we have to mention also “strategic planning”.sp1

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. Effective strategic planning articulates not only where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful.[1]

Simply put, strategic planning determines where an organization is going over the next year or more, how it’s going to get there and how it’ll know if it got there or not. The focus of a strategic plan is usually on the entire organization, while the focus of a business plan is usually on a particular product, service or program.

There are a variety of perspectives, models, and approaches used in strategic planning. The way that a strategic plan is developed depends on the nature of the organization’s leadership, the culture of the organization, complexity of the organization’s environment, size of the organization, the expertise of planners, etc. For example, there are a variety of strategic planning models, including goals-based, issues-based, organic, scenario (some would assert that scenario planning is more of a technique than the model), etc.

1) Goals-based planning is probably the most common and starts with a focus on the organization’s mission (and vision and/or values), goals to work toward the mission, strategies to achieve the goals, and action planning (who will do what and by when).

2) Issues-based strategic planning often starts by examining issues facing the organization, strategies to address those issues and action plans.

3) Organic strategic planning might start by articulating the organization’s vision and values, and then action plans to achieve the vision while adhering to those values. Some planners prefer a particular approach to planning, eg, appreciative inquiry.

Some plans are scoped to one year, many to three years, and some to five to ten years into the future. Some plans include only top-level information and no action plans. Some plans are five to eight pages long, while others can be considerably longer.

Quite often, an organization’s strategic planners already know much of what will go into a strategic plan (this is true for business planning, too). However, development of the strategic plan greatly helps to clarify the organization’s plans and ensure that key leaders are all “on the same script”. Far more important than the strategic plan document is the strategic planning process itself.

Also, in addition to the size of the organization, differences in how organizations carry out the planning activities are more of a matter of the nature of the participants in the organization — than its for-profit/nonprofit status. For example, detail-oriented people may prefer a linear, top-down, general-to-specific approach to planning. On the other hand, rather artistic and highly reflective people may favor a highly divergent and “organic” approach to planning.[2]

sp5Strategic Planning Models

The process that an organization works through to develop a strategic plan is paramount to the actual plan that is developed.  The key aspect of strategic planning is the communication involved between key stakeholders within the organization to develop and implement a strategic plan.  There are various models of strategic planning and thousands of iterations of these models.  The strategic planning process used is contingent on the type and size of the organization and the people involved. Which model or variation on a model is really up to the discretion of the facilitator and the participants of the strategic planning process.  Five models of strategic planning will be highlighted here. [3]

This basic strategic planning model is often effective for new organizations that do not have much prior experience doing strategic planning.  These are typically smaller organizations that often don’t have too much time to spend on the strategic planning process.  As its name states, this is the most basic type of strategic planning that organizations can use to become familiar with the process and then expound on it in the future as they become more comfortable with the process and more established as an organization.

Components of the basic strategic planning model include the following:

  1. Identifying the purpose of the organization and developing a mission statement.
  2. Creating general goals for the organization to accomplish the mission.
  3. Identifying specific action steps to implement each goal.
  4. Evaluating and updating the plan over time. [3]

There are several planning models that can be used, each model has its benefits and drawbacks.

The most used planning models are :

Model One - Conventional Strategic Planning
Model Two - Issues-Based Strategic Planning
Model Three - Organic Strategic Planning
Model Four - Real-Time Strategic Planning
Model Five - Alignment Model of Strategic Planning
Model Six - Inspirational Model of Strategic Planning

There is no one-size-fits-all strategic planning model. Each organization will develop its own approach, often by selecting a model and modifying it in response to local realities and program feedback. [4]

For strategic planning you should always “keep your eyes on the ball and on the play field. ” then you will always know where your are and where you should go be choosing the rights means.

sp4Enjoy the post and if you would like more details please get in touch with TopCFO and check out our workshop on strategic management.

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