When I work with leaders and organizations I’m frequently impressed with the gigantic strategic plans that sit on their bookshelves. While those plans include reams of valuable information and input, they collect dust because they are too complex for anyone to use as a reference.
I’m a strong advocate of keeping things simple in order to live a happier life so I thought I’d share my basic approach to strategic planning. Strategic planning doesn’t have to be a chore. If you think about it, a strategic plan is really just a document that describes what you want to do and how you’ll do it. Use the following ideas to create a concise document that guides your organization and that people aren’t afraid to reference.
- What’s your mission? Write a one sentence mission statement. Keep it simple and speak from the heart. Think in terms of what it is you really want your company to stand for. Stay away from jargon and business speak and focus on a meaningful, basic idea of what your organization does.
- What are the things you do well? Make a brief list of the things your organization does well so that you know what you have to work with moving forward.
- What would you like to strengthen? Create a brief list of the areas where you need a little help.
- Where would you like to go? Write down three to five things you’d like your organization to accomplish. These should be deeply meaningful to your organization and reflect your mission.
- Who will do what and by when? Decide who will take on each part of where you want to go. This step is much more successful if people assign themselves the tasks. Create a date for completion of each task.
When you work on these five steps you will end up with a living, breathing document that is intentionally concise and open to re-interpretation and change. The whole idea of strategic planning is to give you a framework or foundation you can build on. You can always add more detail or specific tasks but you can’t do it if you don’t build a firm footing.
Try these steps with a key group of individuals and you’ll be on your way to creating an easy strategic plan that encourages dynamic movement instead of confusion and heartburn.