A strategic plan is an essential document that drives the success of your organization. It provides two important roles, neither of which are probably on your list of why you think you should have a strategic plan. I want to share with you these two roles and why they are critical to your organization’s success.
What Strategic Plans Usually Include
I have used many different frameworks and tools to create strategic plans over the last 30 years. Some are more effective than others however each has its place depending on the organization’s size and complexity. The basic SWOT analysis is a good place to start but does not provide the integrated views that larger organizations require. Michael Porter’s Value chain analysis and Competitive Industry Analysis are good tools but the newer adaptations provided by the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas, developed by Alexander Osterwalder and others, that are now promoted within Strategyzer.com. These tools provide additional insight into how the organization creates and drives value throughout its organizational structure and partnerships. SCORE, the organization that provides support to small businesses, also recommends Business Model Canvas and provides free training on how to use this tool through their website that is funded by the Small Business Administration.
Even with the many models and tools available, the basic premise of the strategic plan has remained the same – to help identify new opportunities and a path for future growth. The plan must have a clearly defined mission that outlines the purpose of why the organization exists and a vision statement that defines how the organization will look in 3 to 5 years. The vision is the statement of the end-state of what the organization will look like in future years.
After stating the mission and vision, the strategic plan then outlines the measurable goals or objectives of what needs to happen to reach that vision. The plan then describes the strategies or how it plans to meet the objectives. Each strategy then has actionable steps or tactics on how each strategy will be achieved.
However, in my years of experience working with both profits and nonprofits and developing strategic planning frameworks, I found one thing to be true. After the many days of arguing over mission statements and finally agreeing on the objectives and strategies of the organization for the next 3 to 5 years, the document was placed on a shelf (or website) and then forgotten.
It did not matter which framework was used. What was apparent was how the plan was never integrated into the overall day-to-day operations. It needed to be tightly woven within the operations and a part of the change management programs implemented within the organization.
If your organization doesn’t have a change management program then that is the first reason you need a strategic plan.
The First Reason You Need a Strategic Plan – You need a Guide
One primary reason you need a strategic plan is it must become your Guide. Think of the plan as your playbook. It provides you with the best plays but always provides you with options when circumstances change. The plan needs to clearly outline the end vision in a clear and compelling way with specific objectives and strategies so your organization has a guide. The plan acts as your guide that can adapt to the changing times and circumstances and help you reach your destination with less stress, for less money, and with better outcomes. Not to mention happier customers, constituents, and employees.
The plan was never about documenting the specific steps that needed to be taken or having finite and measurable objectives. These never happen in the majority of cases. I have gone back to many strategic plans that were developed over the years and the present state is nowhere near what was forecasted 5 years ago. The strategic plan should be your guide that navigates you through the uncharted waters and keeps you pointing to your organization’s primary mission.
This guide then can be integrated into a Change management framework where you identify how to address each stage of the ADKAR Change Management Model. This model needs to be a part of your strategic planning framework.
The strategic plan needs to have identified triggers that help the organization understand:
- When you need to make a change – Awareness
- How to get the support within your organization to make the changes – Desire
- What step(s) need to be taken to effectively address the change – Knowledge
- Where you need to get the required skills and behaviors to implement the change – Ability
- How to sustain the change and keep moving towards the defined vision – Reinforcement
Does your organization’s strategic plan have a change model framework built within the plan?
The Second Reason You Need a Strategic Plan
The most important reason your company needs a strategic plan is to drive your overall marketing and messaging throughout the organization. As Simon Sinek states, ” You have to start with Why.” If you cannot clearly state why your organization exists and have a clear and compelling vision of the future then you will not get the attention of your target market and constituents. This is especially true with nonprofits that are trying to inspire a movement or cause.
The strategic plan is the primary cornerstone and starting point of your branding and marketing communications strategies. It provides the focus and direction required to create the inspiration and engagement your marketing is meant to deliver. Without this any marketing you develop is ineffective and a waste of money.
Your organization’s strategic plan is the first step into creating a meaningful brand positioning and personality that will resonate with your target market as you tell your organization’s story. A one-page version of your strategic plan will help keep you focused and your team inspired.
Getting Value Out of Your Strategic Plan
The bottom line? Build a strong strategic plan with these 2 goals in mind. Don’t spend the time worrying about getting your mission or vision perfect. Spend your energy understanding your organization’s “why” and putting a plan in place to help you get there no matter what obstacles or circumstances happen to get in the way.
Make sure you have a guide that you can follow and trust within your organization that will lead you in the right direction and keeps you true to your mission. It will be inevitable at points along the way that you will want to make revisions to your vision and tweaks to your mission that will provide even more focus and inspiration. The only thing is you won’t know that until you get further down the path. So don’t get stuck on trying to make it perfect.
Most importantly, if you are not inspired by your mission and vision then why will anyone else? Build a strategic plan that helps resonate with your organization’s story. This will help you build a strong brand and marketing message that will get people inspired and engaged.
To learn more about how the strategic plan fits within your organization’s overall planning and marketing framework, please go to the Movementum Group website. There you will see how the Movementum Framework helps incorporate each step into the process in helping you get your message out to inspire your company’s movement and give it the momentum it needs to grow.