Four Boxes Your Strategic Plan Should Tick.

Strategic Planning takes many different forms depending on who you speak to. If your Strategic Plan doesn't address the following, it needs a re-think.  The best way to know what a good Strategic Plan should include is to consider it in light of the following generally accepted definition of 'Strategy':

"A planned choice of actions designed to achieve a long-term result"

Let's break it down.

1. Planned

Organisations need to set a target, make a plan to achieve it, then execute. Monitor how you are performing and adjust if necessary. Plan=>Do=>Check=>Act.

The target should be clear, measurable, and identify for who's benefit it is (e.g. shareholders, members, etc.). Vision and Mission statements ARE NOT plans or targets - they aren't specific enough. A plan should include operational and financial targets over a longer-term period (see below), which is something most strategic plans don't do. If you don't have financials projected over the planning period then you can't measure how you are tracking against it.

3. Actions

After choosing the right strategies, you need to come up with lower-level actions of 'how' success will be achieved. This is where strategies are generally categorised into Marketing, HR, IT, Financial etc. They should be at a level that provides context of why the strategy was chosen, and how it will be executed successfully. 

2. Choice

Consider the choices available to you. This should be a long list of strategies that could be chosen to ensure nothing is left out. Take the blinkers off - don't just consider strategies that you have already pursued or considered before. If your industry faces major disruption, or you want to get ahead of your competition, it's particularly important to consider left-field strategic alternatives.

4. Long-term

The planning period needs to be long term. At least three years, preferably five. If you are looking at periods of one year or less, all you see are existing problems. Industry disruption, economic impacts and other external changes can take five years to occur. These need to be considered ahead of time so that plans are established to deal with them. If you don't do this, your competitors will and you will be left behind.

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