4 Steps to Develop a Strategic Plan

Developing a strategic plan is essential for any organization that wants to succeed. It starts with a mission that provides the company with a sense of purpose and direction. The four phases of strategic management are formulation, implementation, evaluation, and modification. Most companies schedule their management retirement to develop and establish strategic direction for the rest of the year, as well as a 3- to 5-year perspective.

The process can contribute to team building by “moving away from the daily routine”, but it often does not translate into a strategy. This is because what starts out as a noble intention or cause ends with little or no responsibility, allowing life to return to “normal” soon after the planning meeting. The effective implementation of strategic planning requires responsibility in both creating and managing strategic initiatives. Organizations that define more than 5 to 6 critical initiatives generally focus on implementing tasks rather than strategy.

Likewise, exploring more than 2 or 3 growth initiatives represents a strategic planning outcome that has no direction or focus. A good strategic plan defines where your organization is heading, how you'll win, who should do what, and how you'll review and adapt your strategy. It's important to distinguish between which initiatives are truly strategic and which are simply tasks and obstacles that affect the daily operating procedure. If your team wants to take the next step in the SWOT analysis, apply the TOWS strategic alternatives matrix to help you think about the options you might face.

This step involves setting an implementation schedule, implementing your plan, executing it based on your key results, and reviewing the process and updating your plan quarterly. But before taking that step, determine if you are going to develop a set of plans that derive directly from the strategic plan or if you already have operational, business or accounting plans that should be synchronized with the organization's objectives. In many organizations, retreats get a bad rap because it's so easy to face one of the many planning pitfalls. Implementation is the execution of the strategies necessary to meet the objectives that have been established.

An organization that develops and executes a strategic plan benefits significantly from experience, and starting with a working model and then creating a tangible plan can be more successful for your organization than having no plan at all. There are four main phases that must be applied to each strategy, and decision makers must understand the purpose of each phase. A good strategic plan determines where your organization is heading, how you will win, what roles each member of the team plays in executing, and your plan of action to review and adapt the strategy.