What causes hesitation about developing a strategic plan? Sometimes it’s an organization just not being prepared to invest the resources. Sometimes it’s because they don’t feel they have a coherent strategic direction yet (which is part of the process). But, one of the main reasons we hear is that a strategic plan is just a lot of words. It will get put on a shelf somewhere and not make any concrete difference in their business. Well, like anything else, it depends on your intentions and it depends on your willingness to allow your plan to do what they are designed to do – serve as a guide to your future. Your strategic plan should have an observable, tangible impact on your business.
Here are a few thoughts about how your strategic plan can be used to ensure it has a REAL impact on your business.
It can feed your budget
Your strategic plan will provide insights that will help you develop a budget to deliver resources in the right place at the right time. You will have clear expectations about the source(s) and amounts of your revenue. And you will be able to intelligently estimate the costs associated with bringing that revenue in. A much smarter budget is the result.
It can guide your brand and marketing messaging
Too often our organizations are drawn to clever-sounding taglines and fun, cool images. And too often they are just given to you by marketers. But do they really serve a bigger purpose? Are they truly connecting your customers and prospects to your business? Does they really tell others who you are? One of the benefits of a strategic plan is that it you can put marketing back in its rightful place – the delivery of your marketing messages to create the brand that’s carefully aligned with your organization’s direction. You will have the confidence to guide your marketing team or agency about the brand you are striving to build.
It gives your team confidence in the highest priority activities
Sometimes one of the things that hampers our teams from being successful is their lack of decision-making. And many times that is caused by their lack of clarity about the overall direction of the organization. And sometimes they also lack confidence about their role in helping the organization getting there. So they are paralyzed. That should disappear as part of your strategic planning process. Your team should all know where the ship is heading and have confidence in making the right decisions with that clear set of strategic priorities as a backdrop.
Something that’s critical during your strategic planning efforts is to make your strategic goals as concrete as possible. You may have heard that objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed). Follow that advice and your team will come away with very good clarity about the goals of your organization – and the role they can play as employees.
It reconnects your staff to the organization’s purpose
The benefits of your team truly understanding the organization’s mission is significant. By reconnecting with the fundamental purpose of your organization, your staff should be filled with a sense of purpose and meaning in the jobs they do. They will be reminded that the long-term goals of the organization are big and broad. Part of the goal of a strategic planning process is to introduce or reintroduce a sense of excitement about where the organization is heading.
It clearly define your staffing needs – both numbers and skills
While we’re on the subject of staff, your strategic plan should clarify your staffing needs for you. Once you gain clarity about where your organization is heading and how it’s going to get there, one of the next obvious questions is who do you need to help get you there? How many people? What skills do you need on your team? What types of people will “fit” best in the culture that you are building? This will help you build your hiring strategy as well as your budget.
So, if anyone tries to use “it’s just not concrete enough” as an excuse for not building a strategic plan, don’t let them get away with it. A strategic plan is meant to be a REAL practical guide for your organization. When implemented it should most definitely have a solid, concrete, tangible impact on your organization and its activities. Make it tangible. Make it impactful. It’s up to you!
Together we can make sure your organization has a solid path to the future. Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas.