The 8 Step Strategic Plan

The family business clients I work with fall into two camps- those who have hired facilitators to help with strategic planning in the past, only to find the deliverable too complex or overwhelming to manage; and those who have never done strategic planning, because they weren’t sure how to start.

I have some good news for you- strategy doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. Wouldn’t it be better to have a straightforward plan in place, rather than a bloated plan that confuses and overwhelms your team- or no plan at all? Of course it would! Here are eight steps to get your team to the strategy table.

Begin with the end in mind. Get your most trusted team members around the table and talk about what you hope to accomplish through strategic planning. A good strategic plan will align expectations, clarify exactly where you hope to go, set intention and align resources for success.

Cast your visionA good vision statement is concise, specific and inspiring. It is the first step in aligning expectations for all of your stakeholders, and states clearly the impact you want to have made 7 – 10 years in the future. Here is a short video I’ve created to give you more direction on crafting a strong vision statement.

Reconcile your core values. Think of your core values as the non-negotiable rules of engagement for your business and team. I recommend limiting your list of core values to no more than five. By challenging your team to choose five or less, you get down to the core of your ideal organizational culture.

Build awareness. Google the phrase situational analysis and you’ll find a hundred ways you can structure the process of better understanding your company. A case can be made for all of them, but a great place to begin is with a basic SWOT analysis. During this process, your team is going to brainstorm your organizational strengths (what you’re really good at), weaknesses (what you’re not so good at), opportunities (things you should or could be leveraging to improve or make more money) and threats (things happening outside of your organization that could derail your efforts).

Identify key opportunities and challenges. Now is the time to prioritize your focus. At this point, I challenge my clients to prioritize the top two or three strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from their SWOT analysis. It’s a great way to determine the greatest priorities to focus on within the next 12 – 36 months.

Know where you’re going. With a prioritized list of key challenges and opportunities, you can now work on setting specific and meaningful objectives. Keep in mind that some objectives will require a longer term focus, but I suggest starting with a 12 – 36 month horizon.

Know how you’ll get there. Your objectives will communicate ‘what’ your team will focus on achieving, and now it’s time to determine ‘how’ it will get done. This is your strategy set. For example, if you have an objective to increase employee retention, your strategy may be to develop a new compensation plan.

Make it actionable. Each strategy should have an action plan, which you can think of as a project plan. A good project plan specifies the scope of work (what is included, and what is not), key milestones, tasks and assignment of accountability and timelines.

Don’t let another year pass without getting your team around the strategy table. A strategic plan will help to ensure all stakeholders are moving in the same direction, and that resources are fully aligned for success.