Strategic plans help identify what an organization is striving to become and maps out the necessary steps needed to get there. It used to be that strategic plans would go out for ten years, but organizations today typically look 2-3 years down the road—some industries just plan every year.
Developing a strategic plan is a multi-step process and one step builds off of the other. To begin the process the organization needs to have a passion for what they are doing and a clear idea of what they want to achieve.
A Vision Statement is a statement (typically 2-3 sentences) that gives the reader (and more importantly, the organization) a mental picture of what the organization hopes to become or what the organization hopes to achieve.
It is important to understand where an organization is going before it can develop a strategic plan for how to get there. The value of a vision statement is that is gives leadership and employees a shared goal.
Example Vision Statement: “ABC Dry Cleaners will be the premier professional laundry of the metropolitan area by providing unmatched customer service and cleaning services that exceed the competition.”
A Mission Statement is an explanation of why an organization exists and the path it will take to achieve its vision. Mission statements are typically shorter than a vision statement but not always and are organization specific. This is a statement that describes what the organization is passionate about and why it exists.
Example Mission Statement: We exist to “help our customers care for and extend the life of their clothes investment.”
A gap analysis is a process an organization goes through to identify the gaps between its current state and its vision. To do a gap analysis, simply look at where the organization is and compare it to where it hopes to be.
This process typically involves a step of researching data outside the organization as well as taking a good hard look at data within the organization. Examples of gaps an organization might look at would be:
Write SMART goals for 2-3 years out (some organizations choose to go shorter or longer depending on the organization).
Now this is where the rubber meets the road. Goals are a wonderful thing to have but unless they are implemented and someone is held accountable through a structured performance management process, they are nothing more than words on a piece of paper.
To give goals some teeth, they need to be taken down to the department and ultimately the employee level. This means identifying who will get it done.
Goals should be monitored at least on a quarterly basis. This can be as simple as asking the responsible person to give a status update on their goals for the quarter. It is very important that this is done because all organizations are so busy today that the day-to-day responsibilities can sometimes get in the way of completing long-term goals.
Once a year the strategic plan and goals should be reviewed and updated to reflect current market conditions and changes to ensure that goals are focused on the current state of the organization.
Many organizations don’t create a strategic plan because the process intimidates them, but any size organization can map out a plan if they solicit the help of a trained facilitator and commit the time and resources to doing it.
Does your organization have a strategy and plan?
This article is by Patricia Lotich from thethrivingsmallbusiness.com.