Organizational Strategic Planning
A strategic plan is a plan that maps out specific strategies for achieving organizational results. It is hinged around the mission, vision, values and critical success factors of an organization.
In essence, a strategic plan will provide a path that will take an organization from its present status to where it will like to be in a projected time frame.
As a management tool, a strategic plan must be developed according to the needs of the organization that it represents. Representatives from every department within the organization should participate in the strategic planning process. If possible, customers and stakeholders should also be an integral part of the planning activities. When everyone participates in the planning stages, the implementation of the strategic plan becomes less of a challenge.
Strategic Planning in Government Organizations
The developers of an organization’s strategic plan should take into consideration the following:
- The type of leadership structure that is provided by the organization
- The culture of the organization
- The size of the organization
- The organization’s stakeholders
- The organization’s budget
- The complexity of the organization
Although these factors should be considered when developing a plan, the stages involved in strategic plan development can be very lengthy; and may require detailed analyses of all departments within the organization. The following steps outline some of the procedures that an organization should employ when developing a comprehensible strategic plan that will best represent the business of the organization.
1. Effective strategic planning should begin with the decision of whether a consultant should be employed to assist in the development and implementation of the strategic plan. Usually small organizations opt for in- house strategic planning and implementation, while larger organizations hire consultants.
2. Strategic planning should be conducted by a planning team. The team or committee should include the following:
- The Chief Executive Office of the Organization (CEO)
- Directors from each division within the Organization
- At least one person who is responsible for composing and implementing the strategic plan (usually the meeting chairperson)
3. The next step in strategic planning is to schedule committee meetings. Meetings should be no more than two or three weeks apart. The CEO should emphasize the importance of meeting attendance- regularized input from all committee members is important for accomplishing an effective strategic plan.
4. One of the first tasks the committee should undergo is to assess the organization’s current situation. Each member of the committee should prepare answers for the following questions:
- What is the purpose of this organization?
- Who and what does this organization represent?
- How well are we presently achieving the purpose of the organization?
- What are our strengths?
- What are the weaknesses of the organization?
- What opportunities are there for growth within our organization?
- As an organization where will we like to be in the next 10 years?
- How are we going to get there?
5. Once the questions have been answered, there should be one or more meetings, during which the various answers are discussed. The committee’s chairperson should then put together a document that best answers these questions from an organizational perspective, and then circulate the answers for review and comments by all members of the committee.
6. Using similar methodologies to those employed in steps 4 and 5, committee members should work towards defining the following for the organization.
- Vision Statement
- Mission Statement
- Success Factors
General definitions for these organizational elements are as follows:
A Vision Statement outlines what the organization wants to be. It concentrates on the future, and is usually a source of inspiration for all employees within the organization. It provides clear decision- making criteria.
A Mission Statement is a clear and succinct representation of the organization’s purpose. A mission statement is usually general, and represents all sections within the organization.Mission Statements are intermittently reviewed according to how often major changes are made within the organization.
Organizational values define the standards that govern the culture of the organization. Without values the employees of the organization will adopt values that may not necessarily align with the values of the organization.
Objectives are guideposts that define standards of what an organization should accomplish in areas such as customer service, stewardship, safety etc. Managers are able to evaluate performance on a regular basis, based on how well an organization is moving towards its objectives.
Organizational goals define the desired results that an organization hopes to realize and achieve within a specific time frame.
Organizational goals should be both long- term and short- term. Most organization’s recommend setting long- term goals first, and then short- term goals.
Critical success factors
Critical success factors are key organizational factors that should be addressed if the organization is to achieve its vision and mission.
Critical success factors might include:
- Achieving credibility as an organization
- Maintaining product quality standards
- Finding needed resources
- Staying in touch with customer needs
- Establishing internal and external communication standards
- Establishing cost-effective manufacturing and operations
- Establishing a continuous improvement policy for reviewing and evaluating progress
- Development of a system that documents processes so others can be trained
- Achieving buy-in from all levels of the company, which helps understanding and acceptance through participation
- Establishing a financial plan that ensures enough cash flow and sales revenue to grow the company effectively
- Developing a plan to deal with downturns should they occur
- Employing systems and administrative policies to enhance employees do their jobs effectively
Organizational strategies are created by evaluation of decision within the organization that will enable long- term objectives to be achieved. Strategies may define the resources that are needed to implement the organizational objectives.
Strategic programs represent the final element of strategic planning. The programs are basically projects that implement the key strategies of the plan. Strategic programs should identify resources, time- scales, budgets and targets that must be put in place to implement the strategies.
Once you have completed all of the aforementioned steps, and you have defined all of the strategic planning elements that are most suitable for your organization, you can proceed to piece together you strategic plan.
Some companies opt for very extensive and elaborate strategic plans. Good examples of extensive strategic plans are the U.S. Department of Commerce Strategic Plan and the Strategic Plan for the Ohio Department of Development. Other strategic plans are concise like the Carnegie Mellon University’s 2008 Strategic Plan; and others are even more concise like the one page strategic plan from the Center for Excellence in Child and Family Inc.
A template for a one-page strategic plan can be found at the Internet Income Academy.
At the end of composing the strategic plan for your organization, you should note that there is no perfect strategic plan. Organizations should do their best to encourage and implement strategic thinking within all facets of the organization, and should make a habit of learning from previous mistakes in an effort to promote continuous growth within the organization.