May 13, 2013 – Three days ago, I was speaking at a national conference in Chicago on the six biggest reasons why strategic planning fails. About 100 executives were in the room, and it wasn’t long into the presentation that I realized that, for all the books and articles and case studies on strategic planning, the biggest failure of all was not understanding what strategic planning is and isn’t. One executive raised his hand and asked if I could provide examples of strategic planning. Many other heads began to nod.

Put five different strategic planning consultants in a room, and you are like to get five different examples of strategic planning. Everyone has a twist on the basic methodology and process, which may be why strategic planning has failed so many organizations. Quality management professionals have been able to accelerate results by standardizing project methodologies. Organizations generally adopt Lean, Six Sigma, or Focus PDSA performance improvement methodologies, and they run all QI projects exactly the same way. By adhering to a standard process and toolbox, the results get better over time. The same can’t be said for strategic planning, as there is no standard, which makes providing examples of strategic planning somewhat tenuous.

What Examples of Strategic Planning Must Include

That said, for all the examples of strategic planning, they must – and allow me to capitalize MUST – begin with an understanding that strategy is designed to do one thing and one thing alone; that being to move the organization from mission to vision. No matter how many examples of strategic planning you review, they are dangerously inadequate if the focus is not on moving the organization closer to its vision.Strategic Planning Building a Plan examples of strategic planning Examples of Strategic Planning Strategic Planning Building a Plan

Similarly, all examples of strategic planning should, at the least, include measurable objectives, strategies, and tactics. If you are true to the craft, you should include goals as well, which would make your plan look like this:

  • Goals: Broad statements that translate the vision into something more timely and concrete.
  • Objectives: Quantifiable and measurable performance targets that illustrate how much improvement the organization is aiming for and the time frame for that improvement.
  • Strategies: Broad action plans that, when implemented, has a good chance of achieving the performance targets established by the objectives.
  • Tactics: The day-to-day and week-to-week action items that comprise the strategies; these are assigned to individuals in the company with firm due dates and understood deliverables.
Why SMART Objectives Drive Examples of Strategic Planning

Examples of strategic planning may also include strategic themes atop the goals. These are broad affinity groups such as quality, finance, customers, growth, etc., that provide some planning and execution structure around major operational areas. Some companies also include sub-objectives, others go all the way to the task level, and some have sub-goals. However, at a minimum, regardless of the examples of strategic planning you might encounter, the plan MUST have defined measurable objectives, and only once the objectives have been defined, then strategies and tactics, too. To create really excellent objectives, use the SMART methodology: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound.

For some concrete examples of strategic planning, visit our LaunchPad tutorial, that includes a short video explaining these concepts.

building a strategic plan examples of strategic planning Examples of Strategic Planning building a strategic plan1

Maria Frantz
Maria Frantz
Maria Frantz is AchieveIt’s VP of Operations, a proud Georgia Tech Grad, and a Master of Statistics. When she’s not building strategic plans you can find Maria painting and haphazardly attempting to learn how to play the violin, guitar, and trumpet.