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Building a strategic plan or engaging in strategic planning can make a difference, particularly when it has a long-term focus and is used as a management tool, rather than simply being an exercise in forms completion. Traditional strategic planning can be broken down into four sequential steps:

  • market research
  • strategy formulation and planning
  • strategy implementation
  • results measurement and control

Market research to determine customer needs and identify future market trends is usually the initial step in strategic planning. Managers use the market research to define company mission, goals, and strategic plans for one, three, and five years. Company mission statements become refined by specifying financial, market share, and product mix goals. Implementation generally occurs through official directives and control systems that flow through divisions, departments, sections, and eventually to individuals. Each individual receive a set of objectives that, if achieved, allow the company to attain its mission and goals. Control systems focus on individual outputs or behaviors in the organization. Controlling outputs emphasizes results through management by objectives.

 


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The strategy formulation and planning process consists of the following primary building blocks:

  • assessment of the company's current position
  • identification of the company's desired position
  • evaluation of the strategic gap between the two and the critical issues to be resolved in order to close the gap
  • formulation of strategies and action steps to resolve the critical issues

This website presents a creative model of the strategic panning process. The "strategic plan major steps" links at the top right present the specific steps involved in the planning process. In addition, strategic plan templates and tools are provided so you can develop an excellent strategic plan yourself. The set of strategic plan templates and tools are designed to help you cover all the various elements that go into the development of well thought out and comprehensive strategic plan.

 

 

The development of goals is a key step in effective strategic planning. Goals can be defined as a written target of where an organization or an individual wants to be within a specific time frame. But goals must be built on a secure foundation in order to be meaningful and to help the organization achieve its mission. Effective goals have four common characteristics which, when followed, will make achievement more likely and planning more precise. These characteristics are:

 

1. The goal must be specific. The more specific the goal is, the more likely the organization is to achieve it. 

2. The goal must be measurable. There must be a way to determine whether or not the organization is making progress toward the goal, and there needs to be a way to clearly define the moment when the goal is achieved.

3. The goal must be targeted. Will the goal lead to the desired outcomes? Does the goal accomplish the mission of the organization, or at least contribute meaningfully to the mission? 

4. The goal must be time specific. Tying a goal to a deadline is critical. It allows the objectives which flow from the goal to address both direction and speed. Goal achievement is usually based on a specific time frame, and accountability for achieving the goal is significantly enhanced when it is linked to a deadline.

 

Putting your energies into developing effective goals that link to values, that are measurable, specific, targeted and time sensitive will pay huge dividends as you work to achieve your strategic plan.

 

In summary, in order to determine where it is going, the organization needs to know exactly where it stands, then determine where it wants to go and how it will get there. The resulting document is called the "strategic plan".

 
 
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