The key components of a comprehensive strategic planning model
An automobile requires a wide variety of component parts in order to function properly. For example, every automobile, whether a sporty convertible, a family mini-van or a handy 4 wheel-drive pick-up truck, needs an engine, seats for the passengers, and some wheels. Though the various models of vehicles and even the actual parts themselves may look quite different from one vehicle to the next, the essential components are always included.
Likewise with strategic planning. There are key components necessary to create a sound strategic planning model. If a component is not included, the quality and value of the resulting strategic plan diminishes dramatically. The key components of a comprehensive strategic planning model are:
- The core ideology, i.e., the purpose, vision, values of the organization.
- A strategic analysis of your external environment and the opportunities and threats existing there
- An internal analysis of the issues preventing the organization from performing at its peak.
- Key prioritization tools to single out the key initiatives or projects from among many options.
- An easy-to-use, visual roadmap to guide the work throughout the plan’s duration.
- Clear accountability for results.
Arranging the building blocks to create a strategic planning model
Just as in the automobile the wide variety of component parts fit together to create the vehicle, the building blocks of strategic planning fit together to create a comprehensive strategic planning model. There are many ways to do this. For purposes of explaining how the pieces fit together to create a valuable planning process, we are using Professional Growth Systems’ Vision Navigation® planning process.
The following diagram displays the Vision Navigation® process. Each of the key building blocks listed above are incorporated into a seven-phase planning model. The model can be tailored to fit an organization’s specific needs, but in each case, the component parts are always included.
Here is a picture of how these phases meld together:
The phases explained:
To better understand where and how the building blocks of planning are rolled into the Vision Navigation® strategic planning model, each of the 7 phases is described below.
The strategic assessment phase results in a list of potential strategic initiatives or projects to grow your organization. Whether you are a for-profit company looking to increase revenues, or a non-profit wanting to grow or better serve your constituent base, a sound strategic analysis gives you the wherewithal you need to fulfill those goals. A strategic assessment defines potential initiatives that take advantage of opportunities, or mitigate threats. This strategic assessment phase includes a look at:
- Your competitive assets.
- The needs and wants of your customers.
- The competition (other service providers).
- New or better uses of technology.
- Key political and economic concerns and opportunities.
- Cultural and demographic trends and their impacts on your organization.
In the internal assessment phase, management team turns its focus internally. The result is a list of internal challenges or problems to be addressed. For example:
- The computer system is outdated
- Customer wait time in checkout lines is too long
- The company website does not attract new business
Sophisticated prioritization techniques are incorporated to sift through what can be a long list of problems in order to determine which to solve first for the biggest impact. (See our library article Strategic Planning Tools for information on the prioritization tools). Results are built into the final strategic plan so that the organization’s focus is not just on growing, but on fixing the impediments to real, sustained growth.
Establishing the vision
Establishing the Vision focuses the organization on its core ideology. What are the purpose, vision and values that form the backbone of the organization? There are many strategic projects that an organization can choose from to expand its operations, so it is important to have in place the key core values and purpose or mission statement to guide which of these projects is selected. In many cases, the board of directors is involved in this phase.
Determine strategic agenda
At this point in Vision Navigation®, leadership has uncovered a variety of potential strategic initiatives and it has prioritized key internal projects to help move the organization forward. Finalizing the combination of strategic, and internal, projects into one workable list for the year is the goal of this phase. It is an important step, because the results will determine the strategic work of leadership for the next 12 months or more, and will largely determine the progress made toward the organization’s vision. Management simply does not have time to work on every potential project. Selecting the most valuable is a critical step in the strategic planning process.
Plotting the course
During the plotting the course phase, leadership focuses on the strategic initiatives and internal improvement projects selected and plans the work to be done. Each project plan includes a year-end target or goal with the quarterly outcomes to be completed throughout the year to achieve that goal. Accountability for each of those outcomes is assigned, which is critical to the success of the plan.
At this point, the plan is put into a user-friendly document that is used throughout the year to track progress and make revisions. At Professional Growth Systems, the information is compiled into a Vision Navigation® chart, a visual template of your strategic plan that is updated quarterly. Read more about the Vision Navigation® chart in this library article
Creating an instrument panel
How do you know if the work of your plan is actually moving you closer to your vision? And throughout the year are you remaining financially sound and satisfying your customers? An instrument panel gives leadership a collection of measures to track monthly and assess the answers to these questions. To learn more about an Instrument Panel and how it is used, click here.
Navigate the course/plan revision
This final phase of Vision Navigation® isn’t a single session phase at all, but rather the on-going work of the plan. Included are a monthly meetings of the leadership team to assess progress and make changes. Accountability for results plays a key role in these meetings as does problem-solving when projects are behind. A strategic plan cannot be successful if it is simply created and then set on the shelf. It must become a tool for regular management of the organization, and that happens through regular monitoring and meeting.
Flexibility of the model
A good strategic planning model is made of building blocks that can be organized to fit each unique organization. The strategic planning process is flexible and malleable so it can fit the organization’s unique needs. That is vital. But, equally vital is a process comprised of dependable, stable components. Use the information above to help get your strategic planning model into better shape.