Figuratively, strategic plans are tools an organization uses to plot a roadmap for success. But what is strategic planning? A common definition for strategic planning is as follows: “Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment.” [i] Because it sounds daunting, many are intimidated by the vastness of the task. But once you fully understand strategic plans, you will realize that the approach is fairly simple and straightforward.
The Different Types of Strategic Plans
A strategic plan should look further into the future and be more about the vision of the company rather than the quarterly figures. Strategic plans are primarily used to answer three questions:
The most standard type of strategic plan includes a set of statements describing the purpose and values for the company, along with a set of statements on how to achieve targets the organization has set. To ensure that real, meaningful business results are achieved through your plan, always make sure that you include measurable and quantifiable objectives. These objectives provide you with a way to measure progress through the plan implementation and execution phase.
Organizers can also use two other types of strategic plans: vision- or goal-based, or develop an action plan based on the specific issues facing the company. These are more specific than a standard strategic plan, but just as effective. No matter which way an organization decides to go about it, the actual plan should be a written document with concrete actions the organization needs to take in order to achieve the desired results.
How Are Strategic Plans Useful?
Strategic plans are useful because formally articulating dreams and goals for the organization is a great way to set the organization on the path toward execution. How else will you know where to go and what to accomplish if it isn’t written down? Strategic plans are also a great way to unify an organization. If all employees are included in the strategic planning process, and understand how their jobs directly tie into the strategic objectives of the company, you have employees who make better decisions and direct their activities to the accomplishment of those goals.