Assuming you understand the dynamics of your industry, know what you want and need out of your business, appreciate why you are doing it in the first place, and figured out the structure of your operation, it is time to think about your long-term plan to success. Put together a strategic plan to accomplish the manifestation of your vision, values, and mission for the business. A strategic plan lays out the steps required to get from here to there. While a plan alone doesn’t achieve anything in itself, it is the first step to setting the stage for execution. It is often said that a strategic plan without execution is misaligned, but it’s also true that execution without strategy is misdirected. They work in tandem to achieve success.
In this blog, however, I will focus only on the planning process by first distinguishing strategic planning from strategic thinking, and then providing a simple step-by-step procedure for creating the plan.
As noted in the table, we can further distinguish these two concepts by comparing them in four ways: purpose, process, needed skill set, and toolkits required.
Discover novel imaginative strategies.
Incorporate innovative and creative ideation to develop strategies.
Envision the future and translate it into goals, objectives, and steps.
Apply visionary, creative, and imaginative skills.
Employ organization, prioritization, and executive skills.
Use brainstorming, scenario planning, and root cause analyses.
Use Gantt charts, utility analyses, task lists, and job descriptions.
Another way to compare the two concepts is to recognize that without strategic planning, strategic thinking results in a continuing quest for structure and process because it informs strategic planning. But without strategic thinking, strategic planning results in a lifeless process of setting goals and measuring objectives because it lacks the voice, action, and creativity of strategic thinking.
What does this mean in practice? Both processes must be present to map out a journey to success.
Finally, there are many activities occurring in the business unrelated to achieving the overall growth vison. In fact, most of them are likely to hinder success. These are the endings that must be halted so that the time, energy, and resources devoted to them can be preserved for what’s more important and directly related to accomplishing the strategic plan.
If this seems like a detailed and taxing process, indeed it is, as nothing good comes without hard work and deep thinking. But sustainable success comes with a well-thought out plan that maps the future and documents how it will be effectively and efficiently achieved.
Steve Cohen is founder and principal of the Strategic Leadership Collaborative, a private consulting practice focused on business strategy and development. A 40+ year veteran of the talent development industry, largely on the supplier side, he has demonstrated a proven track record for building equity by growing top and bottom-line performance for eight different consulting enterprises in the education and training industry he has either founded and/or led. He has been called on to consult with numerous firms needing strategic planning guidance, business coaching, and board advisory services.
His first book, The Complete Guide to Building and Growing a Talent Development Firm, was published by ATD in 2017. His recent follow-up, 12 Winning Strategies for Building a Talent Development Firm is now available on Amazon.
He can be reached at: 952.942.7291 or [email protected]