Strategic Planning

is the PROCESS by which the GUIDING MEMBERS of an organization ENVISION its future and develop the necessary PROCEDURES AND OPERATIONS to achieve that future. The strategic plan sets the stage for creating the marketing plan and the financial plan. The risk analysis section of the strategic plan includes the development of a succession plan.


OK, so what does the above statement really mean?  What are the key components?  And how does everything fit together?  Well, here is the two minute drill.

First, all components are written in a future present state using an understanding of the current situation.  Said in another way, these statements are written in the present tense as the organization would like them to be sometime in the future.  They may not match present reality, but are a representation of a target that the organizations would like to become.

Mission - The mission is the reason for the existence of the organization - the ultimate purpose.  This statement is very short and concise, but at the same time very broad and general.

Positioning Statement - This statement defines how the organization implements its mission in a way that differentiates it from all other organizations working toward the same mission.  Like the mission, this statement is very short and concise, but is also very detailed in how organizational differences are to be implemented in processes and within the organizational culture.  What are the meaningful points of difference between this organization and others?  (Again, this may not match present reality, but is what the organization strives to become.)

Strategy - Strategy involves how the mission and positioning statement are to be attained.  The rubber meets the road here by developing ways to bridge the gap between present reality and the future envisioned in the mission and positioning statements.  While there may be a number of strategies to close the gap the organization should pick a manageable number that can be realistically addressed by the organization.  The gap involved between the present and the desired future may be too large to close at one time, so concentrate on foundational issues and those strategies that make the greatest contribution for closing the gap.

Vision - Mission, positioning, and strategy all fall under a general umbrella called vision.  Because it involves everything, it is sometimes difficult to summarize in a few statements.  Instead, the vision is more abstract and is only understood within the context of the mission, positioning, strategy, and the organizational culture.  To a large extent, the culture is carried in the stories told throughout the organization that illustrates what the organization does and why it does it that way.  Vision is carried in the stories that address the future and how the organization will move from the present state forward.  Not a single story, but many stories told from different perspectives.

Performance Measures - Progress toward gap closure requires some type of measurement process.  Generally, metrics are focused on mission attainment, which normally has some financial component of past performance.  A more balanced approach widens the measurement process to also focus on other areas that are likely to influence future mission attainment.  Customer issues, internal process efficiencies, and learning & development all effect future mission performance and can be tracked in meaningful ways.

Steps in the Strategic Planning Process: