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Review: How to Develop a Strategic Plan in Four Simple Steps

We are wrapping up our How to Develop a Strategic Plan in Four Simple Steps blog series. As we noted, strategic planning consists of four concepts based on your company’s mission statement that should feed each other in a cycle of constant progress: Goal, Strategy, Objective, and Plan.

Let’s review our example widget company who gained significant momentum in their strategic planning. We first started with identifying the business’s mission and vision.

Mission: Be a market leader in widget production while providing excellent customer service.

Vision: Best sales in the region.

We learned a key differentiator between high and low performers is a clearly defined and measurable statement expressing an organizational goal. A SMART goal tells employees where the organization is going and how it plans to get there. Here is the SMART goal we established for our widget company.

SMART Goal: Sign 200 new contracts for widget production and delivery in 2017. (10% higher than the number of contracts signed in 2016 by any of the companies in the Midwest region of the National Association for Widget Production and Delivery.)

The strategy in a strategic plan is the approach you plan to take to achieve the SMART goal. It considers the barriers, resources needed, and actions to take that will deliver value to your customers. Our widget company landed with this strategy.

Strategy: Improve marketing.

Once the strategy is determined, the rubber meets the road and objectives are set. The objective is a measurable step taken to achieve a strategy, and it also accounts for existing barriers and resources. Objectives can be viewed as smaller scale goals for middle management to execute. The management team of the widget company landed on these objectives.

Objective: Gather market research, conduct focus groups, complete analysis, develop/execute a marketing plan.

An objective/goal without a timeline is just a dream, but a goal with a timeline is known as a plan. The plan shows all the nitty gritty details of how to achieve the set objectives. Most importantly, this includes timelines. The widget company identified the plan below.

Plan: Three focus groups within the next three months. With a reasonable timeline, resources needed, and skill sets required from staff established.

Now, imagine that our focus group plan took four months to execute rather than the planned three. It took longer to identify and confirm participants than our marketing director anticipated. However, the information gathered was valuable and allowed the marketing plan to be developed and executed rapidly keeping them within their 12-month goal.

The company’s executives were happy to hear that in the ensuing 12 months, the sales department signed 178 new contracts for widget production and delivery in 2017. The company hit 89% of their original goal, but their business did win the “Best Sales Award” for the Midwest region of the National Association for Widget Production and Delivery.

Next year, the widget company will be using the same process to continue their sales growth and plan to win the “Best Sales Award” for the nation in 3 years.

The executives also plan to use this process to address the customer service aspects of their mission statement in 2018.

Hopefully, this blog series demystified the process of getting from mission to plan and back again. Rarely is the path so smooth in real life; let Naviant be your partner on this road. Our partnership is most effective when we can help your organization fulfill its mission and meet its goals. We know how challenging this journey can be. The best way to achieve this challenge is to invite Naviant to the table when planning your path.

American astronaut Scott Kelly advises, “If we have a goal and a plan, and are willing to take risks and mistakes and work as a team, we can choose to do the hard thing.” Let Naviant help your organization shoot for the stars! Call us today.

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