Most management teams feel overwhelmed at the prospect of creating a strategic plan. They might envision months of meetings culminating in a week of intense strategic planning behind closed doors.
Actually, many strategic plans can be completed in just a few days and implemented within a week.
There are five simple steps all leaders need to be aware of in order to complete and implement an effective strategic plan.
Step 1: Commit to either Running the Show Internally or Partnering with a Strategic Planning Professional
If you choose the “Do It Yourself” method of strategic planning, make sure you use your best meeting facilitator. Executives and members of the management team should NEVER facilitate the meeting. Otherwise, they will miss opportunities to contribute while focusing on running the meeting, they will project their own biases into the direction of the meeting and possibly intimidating participants, or they will do both.
If you choose an outside professional, expect him or her to help you identify the purposes of your planning sessions, consult on appropriate session participants, send invitations to participants, suggest agenda items, prepare agenda activities, document session activities, and assemble the final strategic plan for implementation.
Step 2: Select the Time and Location for your Planning Session(s)
Give yourself at least three months to prepare for your strategic planning session, though you may need six months or longer if you are assembling a team from around the country and from various industries.
NEVER hold your planning session in your office or other familiar space. You and your team need an environment that will encourage creativity. Possible locations include:
- Local hotel meeting space
- Regional conference center
- Destination resort
- Cruise line space
Step 3: Create a well-organized Session Agenda
Prepare session activities the are most likely to promote the accomplishment of each agenda goal while keeping the participants’ attention. Each activity should also promote maximum creativity and independent thinking.
Ensure you have all supplies ready for each activity, from sticky notes and pens to easels and poster boards.
When you arrive early to set up the room, think about how to arrange seating that will keep participants engaged with each other. Avoid theater and classroom seating. Participants need to face each other, best around a table.
Step 4: Document the Session
Whether with a recorder, a phone, or a notepad, make note of all decisions, unanswered questions, assignments and deadlines.
Step 5: Assemble the Report
Based on the session documentation, put together your written plan (paper, electronic or both). The plan should be practical and organized to best facilitate the implementation and achievement of the strategic objectives.
The plan should list the final versions of the values, mission and vision statements, followed by a chronological list of goals with assignments and reporting processes.