Strategic planning is a process normally undertaken by leadership with input from key stakeholders. The result is a plan that includes goals and strategies for achieving the goals. The process prompts the allocation of resources and decisions about outcomes and how progress will be tracked, measured and reported. Strategic plans are typically used to guide units throughout the organization with setting goals at various levels—they are used to set the direction for the organization and serve as a way to focus organizational performance.
Understanding Strategic Planning
Organizations that undertake developing a strategic plan often use the activity to re-affirm their mission, vision and values. A SWOT analysis helps leadership understand the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to their competition. This exercise helps direct the focus to what is possible and feasible for the organization to undertake. Identifying and selecting the best strategies for the organization also occurs during this process. The strategic planning process provides a foundation for the development of various levels of goals and ultimately the development of operational plans and the policies and processes to support them.
Understanding the organization’s position in the market is the first key step in most strategic planning processes. This involves gathering data and input from stakeholders and the development of a SWOT analysis to inform the strategy and goal setting processes. Reaffirming the organization’s mission, vision and values is next, followed by the development of goals and the strategies that will support achieving the goals. Objectives and financial forecasts are often developed at this phase in the planning as well. The development of unit and individual goals follows the finalization of the organization’s positioning and strategy. Managing performance, tracking and reporting are the final aspects usually involved in launching a strategic plan.
Relationship Between Strategic Plans with Operational Goals
Managers can help employees understand the organization’s strategic plans and how their work supports longer term goals. Managers can provide continuity in the absence of current plans to ensure employee activities and performance support short term goals while positioning the department and organization for the development of future strategic plans.
- Strategic plans are generally used to set overall goals for the organization and outline plans for achieving them.
- Strategic plans can become outdated but continual goal setting can occur on a regular basis prior to new strategic plans being created.
- Meet with your supervisor to ensure you understand the timing for strategic plan updates.
- Confirm with your supervisor any key message points you should be communicating with your direct reports about the strategic plan or the planning process.
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