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Strategic Planning:  Strategy Formation
By Scott Morrell

Road maps help provide direction.  They help us get from point A to point B.  With easy access to road maps on phones and built in navigation systems in vehicles, it seems getting lost is a thing of the past.  Good thing for drivers. 2010 data revealed the average driver drove an extra 276 miles every year as a result being lost. 

Organizations also need clear road maps for success.  However, there is no Siri or Map Quest to make organizational success easy.  Organizational success is a little more complicated.  But with a well-designed plan, organizations can be on the road to success.  Strategic planning becomes an organization’s road map to the future.

    Why Plan?

    Intentional planning should be a fundamental part of one's life.  Without it, we wander.  Likewise, businesses (and leaders) that rely on emergent planning tend to wander too.  Strategic planning helps to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, and ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals.  Without formal planning, the purpose of the organization might be misunderstood to stakeholders and too much ambiguity puts an organization at rick.  Other risks include:  confusion on the organization's intent, misapplied resources, fractured employee focus and decline of results.  

    Advantages of Strategic Planning

    Many factors (including those above) showcase the importance of intentional strategic planning to the individual and the organization.  Intentional strategic planning:

    • Provides focus and direction.  Strategic planning allows members of the organization to understand what’s important and how the role they play and their effort and performance contribute to the organization’s success.
    • Allows organizations to make fundamental decisions about the market in which it will operate and the value it will bring to its clients and customers.
    • Gives an organization the opportunity to reflect and evaluate its past, present and future.
    • Allows an organization the opportunity to identify tactics, tasks and sub-tasks that will help the organization attain its strategic intent.
    • Provides an opportunity for the organization to identify resources (e.g. budget, people, facilities, equipment, supplies, knowledge and information) needed to achieve optimal success.
    • Allows an organization to forecast potential obstacles that may interfere with the plan's execution.
    • Provides input from a broad cross section of the organization.

    Do We Need to Develop a Strategic Plan?

    An executive recently shared with me, "We don't seem to have the time or attention span to sit down and intentionally plan.  We cannot seem to catch our breath let alone try to reflect and look over the horizon."  However, statistics show that those that intentionally plan, will be more successful in the long-run.

    You or your organization may be trying to decide whether or not intentional strategic planning is needed for your organization.  Consider the following questions:

    1. Where do you want the organization to be in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years?
    2. What current and future value do you want to bring to clients and customers?
    3. Are their specific goals and measurable objectives established?  Are their specific strategies in place to those goals and objectives?
    4. Is your culture purposely aligned to get the results you seek?

    A strategic plan containing the above information serves as a road map to your organization’s future.  Is your organization’s road map well-designed for the future?  Or is its future following a path of uncertainty and aimless wandering?  What steps need to be taken in 2015 and beyond to ensure your organization's success?