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The Alternative Board Blog

How to write a surprisingly easy and effective strategic plan.

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While it is true that writing a strategic plan is often a tiresome process, with the right knowledge and a clear strategy model, it can be surprisingly easy.

Strategic planning always takes time, but the reward is completely worth it. If written and executed properly, it will realign stakeholders with your company's objectives. New circumstances arise constantly, and strategic plans change as the business climates change. A strategic plan isn't definite – both internal and external changes affect it.

Often called strategy development, strategic planning requires strong attention to detail and an experienced planning team.

Core Elements To Include In Your Strategic Plan

Before learning how to write a strategic plan, you should first learn about the core elements to include in it:

Vision Statement: You shouldn't start working on a strategic plan without a defined Vision Statement. It will help in setting strategy towards achieving the most important objectives of your business. 

Company values: Your values represent the way you behave as a company as you work on your goals. Some good values include being compassionate, accountable, innovative, and passionate.

Focus areas: Focus areas are the crucial operations and processes you'll focus on as you work toward achieving your vision.

Strategic objectives: Strategic objectives represent your high-level goals. It's important to define them and align them with your focus areas.

KPIs: KPIs define the ways you will measure your company's progress in achieving business objectives.

Projects: Projects represent the things you do to achieve your business goals. They are very specific and time-sensitive.

Where Are We Now?

The first step of writing a strategic plan is looking at your current position. You need to think about where your company is now and check if your fundamental values are still in place if you want to learn how to write a strategic plan.

The three important elements to observe:

Mission statement: Every business needs a mission statement to describe and define the company's purpose. You may include various things in your mission statement, but it should clearly say what your organization does and why it exists.

Guiding principles: Your guiding principles define what your business stands for and what you believe in as a company. Revise what values and beliefs guide the daily activities and interactions among management and employees.

SWOT: Another essential element for creation is your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). You need to be aware of each element so you can create a strategy that improves your overall success.

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Where Are We Going?

When wondering how to write a strategy plan, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is, "Where are we going?"

It will help you get a clear vision of where your company is headed in the future and what you want to achieve. The future may be hard to predict, but several elements can help you get an insight into possible outcomes based on various indicators, such as:

Sustainable Competitive Advantage: Every business should work hard on creating a sustainable competitive advantage that will set their company apart from competitors.  Think about the best aspects of your business. How is it unique? What can your company do better than any other company?

Vision Statement: A clear vision of what your organization will look like in the future is necessary for creating a good strategy. It will give everyone a path to follow.

How Will We Get There?

Determining how you'll reach your vision is the most important part of a strategic plan, and it's also the one that's most time-consuming. Since there are many ways for you to travel from the point where you are now to your future vision, it takes time to find the right one. Picking a certain route will define how slowly or quickly you reach your final destination, so it's very important to choose wisely.

When brainstorming ways to achieve your vision, you need to consider various elements, such as strategic objectives, strategy, short-term objectives, action plans, scorecards, and plan execution. Each of these elements is vital for the future success of your strategic plan, and each requires attention.

You need to define both long-term and short-term goals clearly and cover every aspect of planning when looking for ways to optimize your operations.

How To Set Priorities In Your Strategic Plan

If you're wondering how you write a strategic plan without knowing the priorities, the answer is – you don't. You must set your strategic priorities first, and that often takes time. There are three areas to look at when setting priorities in your plan:

Current situation: Think about which aspects of your business are doing great, and which aspects need improvement. Recognize what's holding you back from reaching your objectives.

Future perspective: Knowing your current situation isn't enough for creating an optimal strategic plan. Since no one can predict the future precisely, it's best to gather a team and talk about team member's visions of the future of your business.

Value proposition: Your value proposition is a group of the most distinctive reasons why your customers should be interested in your product or service.

We've covered the basics of how to write a strategic plan, but if you want to learn more, contact us today to set up a strategic business plan consultation. Our business advisory services have helped numerous organizations reach their objectives faster and more efficiently.

Why do some businesses thrive and others barely survive? Learn the 5 ways business leaders seize opportunities during difficult times here

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what does a good strategic plan look like

How to write a strategic plan and what it should include

what does a good strategic plan look like

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Whether you’re a lumberjack or not, there’s a powerful truth to Lincoln’s wise words. And that’s the importance of planning.

Coming up with a solid strategic plan is a crucial aspect of any business. How can you expect to achieve your objectives if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? And how can you efficiently reach your goals without deciding on the appropriate method first?

You need a plan. More specifically, you need a strategic plan.

Sharpen your axes and get comfortable because we’re going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to write a strategic plan like a total boss.

  • What is a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is a document that lays out how an organization plans to realize its long-term ambitions. Think of it as your roadmap. It establishes the direction a company is going to take by considering its goals and objectives. But it also includes the specific actions you are going to take to achieve your goal.

A strategic plan should essentially answer three questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How will we get there?

what does a good strategic plan look like

There are a lot of terms around strategic plans that sound similar. But it’s important for your team to understand what each of them means and how they are different. Let’s clarify some common terms:

  • Strategic plan is your roadmap document.
  • Strategic planning is the process of developing your strategic plan.
  • Strategic planning meeting is the session or event during which strategic planning takes place.
  • Strategic planning frameworks are the tools and methodologies to help your team develop different elements of your strategic plan.
  • Strategic planning model is the overarching approach for how you are going to structure your strategic ideas. You should decide on which model you are going to use before you begin the strategic planning process.
  • Why is a strategic plan important?

Now you know what a strategic plan is. But why do you need one? Here are just some of the reasons developing a strategic plan is so important to your organization

Helps you come up with goals that direct your actions

How can you expect to get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going? A key aspect of the strategic planning process is establishing goals and objectives. These goals will help build momentum within your team and keep them focused on the overarching goal of the business.

Keeps you on track toward achieving your goals

A well-written strategic business plan gives your organization direction. As well as what you want to achieve, strategic plans require you to get specific about how you are going to achieve your goals. Having this plan of action in one consolidated document helps your team stay on track and achieve their goals faster and with more efficiency.

Why creating a strategic plan is important

Focus your resources better

Taking the time to write a well-thought-out strategic plan means carefully considering what actions are going to best serve your company. This prevents wasting time, money, and effort on projects that are not going to take your business to where it wants to go.

The clarity that comes from a strategic plan sets you up for successful resource allocation, which is essential for growing your business.

Aligns team members

A robust strategic plan becomes a source of truth for your team. It keeps all team members on the same page regarding the company’s mission and strategy. When confused about why they are doing something or how they fit into the bigger picture, they can refer to the team’s strategic plan.

As well as team members, a strategic plan keeps stakeholders in the know. They should be involved in the development of the strategic plan so that the goals and strategies are aligned with their expectations.

  • What is included in a strategic plan?

These are the key elements that make up a strategic plan.

Vision statement

The vision statement gives a clear picture of what your organization wants to achieve in the long run. It is an aspirational statement that describes the ideal future state of your business.

Many great vision statements use emotional language to paint a picture of what impact the group hopes to make on the world. For example, IKEA’s vision statement is “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”

Mission statement

While a vision statement looks toward the future, a mission statement considers the present. It should describe the core purpose of the company and why it exists. Your mission statement should provide context for all other goals and actions.

IKEA’s mission statement is “to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”

Your objectives are what you plan to achieve. They are the specific results that your organization wants to accomplish within a certain time frame. Strategic objectives aim to bridge the gap between your overall vision and the goals needed to achieve it.

Strategic objectives can be financial, growth-related, or customer-related. An example of a strategic objective is “Enter three new foreign markets in the next five years.”

This section of your strategic plan is where you turn the focus from your vision to execution. Your strategy is the blueprint for how to achieve your goals and objectives.

If your objective is to “Enter three new foreign markets in the next five years,” you need to develop a strategy for how you are going to do this. Which markets are you going to target? What products or services are you going to introduce? What are the current market trends? Asking and answering these questions will help you design a specific market entry strategy.

This is where strategic planning frameworks become so useful. For example, the Ansoff Matrix helps you evaluate opportunities for growth. Also known as the product-market expansion grid, the Ansoff Matrix helps you review the potential risks and opportunities of each growth plan option.

Ansoff Matrix on Miro

By using frameworks like the Ansoff Matrix, you can analyze each strategic option. All the data gathered and your team’s insights on this data will help determine your strategic approach.

After writing a strategic plan and implementing it, you need to track its progress. Metrics are a way for you to measure the success of your actions. If you find that your strategic plan isn’t giving you the results you expected, you can make changes to your strategic approach.

Metrics can be milestones, such as launching a product or completing a certain project. Or your metrics can be quantifiable performance measures, like KPIs.

  • How to write a strategic plan

Now that you know what a strategic plan should include, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a strategic plan for your business.

1. Hold a strategic planning meeting

No man is an island, especially in the realm of strategic planning. You want to get your entire team involved in the strategic planning process. To ensure everyone is part of the process, you need to hold a strategic planning meeting . This meeting is about collaboration and openly sharing ideas around your strategic plan.

Start by making an invite list and sending out calendar invites to the people you want to attend the session. This should include people from different departments, executives, and stakeholders.

2. Use a template

To save you time and hassle, use a customizable Strategic Planning Template . Businesses have been writing strategic plans for years and years, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Using a template will also help ensure that you don’t miss out on any important aspects of the strategic planning process.

Strategic Planning Template on Miro

3. Determine your position

Before you look towards the future about where you want to be, you need to understand where you currently stand. This means looking internally at who you are as a company and conducting market and competitor analysis to fully understand your external environment.

A popular method for taking stock of your company’s current position is a SWOT analysis . This framework helps you map out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business.

SWOT Analysis on Miro

4. Decide where you want to go

Now it’s time to look toward the future and decide on what you are aiming for. This is where you articulate what you want to achieve. Some examples of thought-provoking questions to ask your team include:

  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How many products would we sell?
  • How many countries will we be based in?
  • Who would our customers be?

This part of writing a strategic plan is where you develop the strategic objectives, goals, and action items. We’re big fans of setting OKRs: Objectives and their related Key Results. This OKR Template will ensure your business goals are structured and clearly defined.

OKR Template on Miro

5. Decide how you are going to get there

Now that you know where you’re going, you need to decide how to get there. This phase involves deciding how you’re going to make your goals a reality. And that means coming up with an action plan.

An action plan is a detailed set of lists outlining the steps you are going to take to complete your objectives. Our Action Plan Template promotes clarity and transparency around assigned tasks. As a team, you need to decide who needs to do what and by when. Everyone should be aware of their role in executing the overall strategic plan.

Action Plan Template on Miro

  • Tips for writing a strategic plan

Keep these tips in mind when writing your strategic plan to make the process more efficient.

Use the right tools

Developing a strategic plan has a lot of moving parts. From running a strategic planning session to capturing your team’s ideas, there’s a lot to stay on top of. But an online collaborative tool like Miro can make the process a whole lot easier.

With Miro, you collaborate with your team from anywhere, at any time. Not to mention safely store all your mindmaps , boards, and diagrams in one consolidated place. To get a real sense of what’s possible, have a look at our list of features .

Be SMART with your goals

Whenever you create goals or objectives, ensure that they are SMART . This means they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. It’s no use coming up with a long list of impressive goals that aren’t realistic or focused.

SMART Goals Framework on Miro

Don’t be afraid to change your plan

Strategic plans aren’t set in stone. They should be used more as a guideline that is adjusted as needed. Your company will no doubt face new challenges or identify new opportunities as time goes on. So it’s important to revisit your strategic plan and make necessary adjustments based on changes in your organization’s environment and situation.

Strategic plans are usually developed for the next two to five-year period. Some companies reconsider their strategic plan every year, while others hold strategic planning sessions every quarter.

It’s up to you and your team how often you revisit your strategic plan, but the key takeaway is that you should be open to changing your plan.

  • Get starting writing your strategic plan

We’re not going to lie to you — creating a strategic plan isn’t the easiest process to execute. From capturing your company’s vision to measuring your strategy’s success, there’s a lot to do. But that shouldn’t deter you.

Knowing how to write a strategic plan is a valuable skill to have, no matter what industry you’re in. And tools like Miro are there to make the process a whole lot easier and more efficient.

Miro is your team's visual platform to connect, collaborate, and create — together.

Join millions of users that collaborate from all over the planet using Miro.

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6 Steps to Make Your Strategic Plan Really Strategic

  • Graham Kenny

what does a good strategic plan look like

You don’t need dozens of strategic goals.

Many strategic plans aren’t strategic, or even plans. To fix that, try a six step process: first, identify key stakeholders. Second, identify a specific, very important key stakeholder: your target customer. Third, figure out what these stakeholders want from you. Fourth, figure out what you want from them. Fifth, design your strategy around these requirements. Sixth, focus on continuously improving this plan.

Why is it that when a group of managers gets together for a strategic planning session they often emerge with a document that’s devoid of “strategy”, and often not even a plan ?

what does a good strategic plan look like

  • Graham Kenny is the CEO of Strategic Factors and author of Strategy Discovery . He is a recognized expert in strategy and performance measurement who helps managers, executives, and boards create successful organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. He has been a professor of management in universities in the U.S. and Canada.

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The Ultimate Strategic Planning Guide

Download our free Strategic Planning Template Download this template

The most comprehensive strategic planning guide ever!

In this guide, you’ll find tips and secrets that you can apply right now and make sure that your strategy is unmatchable and executable. Download our strategic planning template to help you get started.

Read on to find out:

What is strategic planning?

Why is business strategic planning important, how does strategic planning fit into the strategic management process, what is the difference between strategic and tactical planning, the 6-step strategic planning process, strategic planning examples, how to manage strategic risk, strategic planning framework, what is the best employee engagement strategy plan, the inescapable necessity of strategic planning software, the fallacy of strategic planning and the cost of failed execution.

  • + Free strategic planning template

Free Download Download our Strategic Planning Template Download this template

Strategic planning  is the process of initiating the direction a business wants to take and defining how the plan will cascade through a business by the allocation of resources. 

Strategy is a   set of choices . A set that comes from trying to make sense of that messy reality, figuring out where your organization fits in it and how you can make that the new reality.

And like everything worth sweating over, it’s easier said than done.

Strategic planning is the only tool at your disposal to harness the single, most powerful force in business:  strategic competition .

In a world where every player commits to strategies and actions that inadvertently change the competitive landscape, mastery of strategic competition is how you survive and ultimately thrive.

What “mastery” means today is not the same as it did two decades ago. It was once meant to accurately map the current business environment and commit to a long-term strategy. Today, the game of mastering strategic competition is all about  commitment  to a well-structured and clear strategy and the ability to  adapt  early and decisively to unexpected change.

Take, for example,  IKEA . Its stores play a critical role in maintaining its competitive advantage, one of which is the elimination of long waits for delivery (people can view, find and take their desired furniture in one trip). When the pandemic hit, the Swedish furniture company had to temporarily close 75% of its stores. That was a big hit, but the company adapted fast. It doubled down on its digital transformation and online presence with services like its revamped augmented reality application.

Speed  is how you win in strategic competition.

Merging strategic planning with execution is how you achieve speed.

Strategic planning is part of the  strategic management process .

Here is the overview of the entire process:

  • Phase 1 -  Strategic Planning This phase includes researching, setting high-level goals, determining the most important KPIs, cascading the strategy, and reallocating resources to support your initiatives. This is the phase where you develop the core principles of your strategy and populate most of its details.
  • Phase 2 -  Strategy Execution Your plan hits the ground. It gets distributed to the entire organization, and people set up projects and align their daily actions with top priorities. This is the toughest challenge a business faces which determines whether it survives in the long term.
  • Phase 3  Measuring Performance This phase is more than metrics and tracking progress. It transforms execution into a learning process. Reviewing meetings, automated reporting, and balancing metrics with judgment calls educate your decisions and help you adapt your strategy.

It simplifies things to separate processes like that, but in practice, things get dirty.

In strategic management, the processes merge, and it’s hard to draw clear lines. That’s OK! It’s also the reason you can’t have different teams working in silo for each phase of your strategic management process. For example, many companies neglect to consider how they’ll execute their strategy during the planning phase and aren't integrating risk management and strategic planning . And surprise surprise their plan gets no traction at all. 

With the guide to strategic planning, we’ll reveal the practical secrets to a successful planning phase.

Being able to tell the  difference between strategic and tactical decisions  helps leaders focus their team’s efforts on the things that really matter. It’s the quality that distinguishes costly distractions from priceless opportunities.

Let’s see what that means.

Tactical vs Strategic

When you want to take down a fort, you make tactical decisions. How will you attack the front gate, where will you place your troops to avoid enemy fire, what is the best time to attack, what will be the exact sequence of your moves? When you’re being tactical, these are what you’re concerned with.

A strategic decision is whether you’re going to take down the fort or go around it, so you don’t waste any resources. What does taking down this fort offer to our overall plan? That’s the kind of question you ask when you’re being strategic.

Most leaders don’t understand the difference.

In their strategy decisions, they discuss tactical stuff and forget about the initial vision of the plan. So, instead of building a strategy that distinguishes between unnecessary challenges and unavoidable obstacles, these leaders get dragged into the weeds and forget to look at the big picture.

The term strategic refers to a longer-term and broad, but focused, plan. The term tactical refers to the actions and decisions that will bring each step of the strategic plan into life.

Leaders who understand the difference bring the element of focus into their competitive advantage.

There is a lot that goes into strategic planning. The process we outline helps you look at your plan from a different angle and make sure you make it executable.

6 step strategic planning process

1. The Pre-planning stage

Planning helps you make sense of the chaotic reality by inserting some structure into it. And good preparation speeds up the strategic planning process . How do you prepare?

Choose your preferred strategic planning model .

Developing and distributing a strategy for a company with 1.000 or more employees is no easy task. If there is no real structure in your plan, it will take forever to get the right information to the right people. And even then, nobody guarantees to follow through.

You need to take this into account when developing your strategy. Every good strategic planning model includes three things:

Structure  orders the various components of your strategic plan and tells you how they fit together.  Frameworks  help you populate your plan by categorizing and coming up with organizational goals that meet your needs.  Governance  describes how you’ll track and report your progress towards those goals.

Established organizations usually have some sort of a model in place. That’s a great place to start, but we suggest you challenge it and figure out where it has fallen short in the past, at least on these three fundamental elements.  Organize the content of your plan with a strategic framework  (or two), and don’t worry about applying it to the letter.

No business applies strategic frameworks as they are.

And with that, you’ll be a step closer to  mastering  strategic competition.

2. Analyze your external and internal environment

Strategic planning requires deep research. To formulate a great strategy, you need to go through an extensive strategic analysis which includes internal and external analysis.

Here’s where you need to focus.

Internal strategic analysis: study your organization

Analyze the capabilities of your organization by starting with these crucial questions:

  • What are we particularly good at as a business that others struggle with?
  • What drives performance?
  • What are we particularly bad at as a business that others handle well?
  • What hinders performance?
  • Why? (now you’re getting useful answers)

Use external benchmarks to validate your hypothesis on your strengths and weaknesses. How good is the rest of the market on each particular trait? Is your 15% growth due to your strategy, or did the whole industry grow by 14%?

Begin by gathering internal data and information. To avoid paralysis by analysis, use  these internal analysis tools  such as the  SWOT analysis  and the  Gap analysis guide .

External strategic analysis: study your environment

Determine the external challenge(s) your company has to overcome. Answer questions like:

  • What has the competition been doing?
  • Did a new competitor come in strong?
  • Has a competitor made an unexpected move?
  • Have technological advances rendered part of our services obsolete?
  • Did the behavior of the market change?

The game of external analysis used to be about capturing customer data faster and more efficiently. Today the game has changed. Customer data is more available than ever, and the challenge is to extrapolate the most useful and actionable insights from that data.

Matt Ryan (strategist for  Disney  and  Starbucks ) said in his keynote speech “ Strategy is the Voice of the Customer ” at the first Strategy Festival:

“Having all that data in one place, organized, and importantly democratized so that everybody can use it makes the change management of bringing people along much more effective.”

The game evolved from capturing to leveraging customer data.

Strategic analysis: combine your findings

If you conduct a comprehensive internal analysis without external benchmarks, you’ll be vulnerable to competitors’ initiatives and your biased estimations. If you analyze your business environment without having a good grasp of your company’s capabilities, you’ll be incapable of executing your strategy. To form a complete picture and diagnose the most important challenges your organization faces, you need to study  both  your organization AND your environment.

Here is what that looks like during strategic planning:

  • What is the main industry (category) we’re competing in?
  • What are the core players in the industry? Are there any new ones?
  • How many business segments do we compete in?
  • What differentiates us from other players?
  • What unique advantage comes from this differentiation?
  • What are the (internal & external) challenges that our strategy needs to address?
  • How do we manage our unique advantage in the long term?
  • Which business tail can we cut that will make a stronger competitor?

In the end, your strategic analysis should give you the ability to foresee changes in the geopolitical sphere and in your competitors’ behavior.

A strategic analysis example

In 2005,  Goodman Group  decided to expand its operations in the global market.

Starting with the United Kingdom, China and Hong Kong, it made some strategic investments based on predictions of increases in transactions in Australia, Europe and the East. With the increase of online transactions and the rise of the e-commerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba, Goodman Group foresaw the potential demand that these companies will have in properties and invested in the opportunity early on.

Today Goodman Group is the largest listed industrial property group serving customers like  DHL , Amazon,  Kellogg’s , Alibaba and many more.

The company grew by analyzing the market conditions and expanding with strategic moves and key acquisitions in target markets.

3. Build with the destination in mind

Populate the strategic plan  backward .

The external and internal analysis is just the first step of strategic planning. Its purpose is to arm you with the necessary information and context to make educated decisions moving forward.

The next step is to set up  long-term strategic goals .

Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 3 years? Start by articulating your mission statement  in as much detail as possible. Then break it down into increments and set the milestones along the way.

Use 6-month increments and determine the milestones starting from the future and working your way back to the present. What do your long-term goals require you to achieve in the next 6 months? Is it possible?  If not, ditch your plan and start again.  If your proximate objectives are unattainable, then every other long-term ambition is just wishful thinking.

You need an achievable short-term goal.

How to approach corporate strategic planning

The strategic process changes depending on the level of strategy it occurs. There are  three levels of strategic planning :

  • The Corporate level of strategic planning
  • The Business level of strategic planning
  • The Functional level of strategic planning

Corporate strategic planning  is the highest level of strategy.

It’s the level that the board and the C-suite develop mostly on their own. They decide on the major focuses of the business and the destination in the longest possible horizon. At the corporate level, the strategic process distils the collected data into decision-guiding insights. The biggest enemies are complexity and vagueness. The biggest allies, simplicity and clarity.

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to explain your corporate strategy in plain English during an elevator ride.

4. Aim for an inimitable strategy

If the competition can copy your strategy, then you have a bad strategy.

Good strategies are hard to emulate. Your competitors might be able to figure out your strategy, but they shouldn’t be able to copy it without paying a heavy price. The secret to developing an inimitable strategy is  anticipation .

Anticipate how the competition and the market will react.

For those of us with no psychic powers, the game of anticipation is a game of scenario forecasting. 

  • What does the future of the market look like?
  • What is the competition currently doing, and we can count on them to keep on doing?
  • How is the competition going to react to predicted market changes?
  • What regulation changes do we expect?

Forecasting is at the base of  risk management (more on this later). That’s why parallel to the execution of your strategic plan, you need to track the assumptions you made during the planning phase. You want to prevent an inversion of competitive relationships in case your predictions about the market or the competition are wrong.

Develop policies that are worth more than the sum of their parts.

It’s how you manage your differentiation in the long term. Each part of your strategic plan should fit with the others in such a way that they support and reinforce their effectiveness. The idea is that each policy has no real effect on its own, but they generate a competitive advantage when all are executed together.

Remember, good strategies are hard to emulate.

When building the policies of your strategy, ask yourself:

  • How easy is it for competitors to copy each policy?
  • What would that cost them?
  • What are the minimum policies they have to copy to emulate our strategy?
  • How can we make it harder for them?

It shouldn’t be possible for your competitors to copy one or two of the policies, maybe improve them a little bit, and then reap the benefits of your strategy. The policies of a hard-to-emulate strategy are coherent and consistent with a  principle of action  that guides all decisions at all levels. 

It’s much simpler for a small store to build a coherent set of policies around a specific target audience like “students that are price sensitive” than to try and navigate through thousands of decisions without a clear frame for her strategy.

5. Build momentum: the first step of executable strategies

“It was a great plan, but it never got traction.”

A truth as common as failed diets that start on Mondays.

Great strategic plans that never got executed are embarrassingly prevalent. People hate change and  resist  it. To build executional momentum for your plan, you need to spark organizational energy and focus.

There are three ways you can achieve this:

elements of strategic planning

First, find your strategy’s proximate goal.

As we mentioned, if the first step of your strategy isn’t feasible, the rest of the plan is a dream. You can build perfect analyses, great slides, and foolproof financial models, but don’t expect people to go and do these things. In fact, that’s  never  the case.

Reality is messy. People can’t work without a specification. As a leader, you need to remove ambiguity and replace complexity with a solvable and achievable strategic objective that people can tackle. Strategic planning techniques are incomplete until a  feasible  first step is determined.

Force it, if you have to.

Second, adapt the reward system to reflect the changes.

If you ask people to change their behavior, but their performance goals remain tied to the old behavior, they simply never change. Because they won’t care. Especially in the beginning of a new strategy, you should focus on  progress  and not results. Reward progress towards the change. Make change the goal and adapt incentives to align goals, actions, and priorities. If two out of those three contradict, the plan will fail before it ever gets a chance.

When  Disney  decided to go direct-to-consumer by entering the streaming industry, Bob Iger decided that the production of original content for Disney+ would happen in-house by the existing studios. He didn’t want to outsource it with so much creative potential. That was a tough decision and meant that executives had to put aside politics and work together to disrupt their own business. To ensure success and impose a sense of urgency, Iger restructured the internal incentive system to reflect the company’s new priorities.

Now Disney Plus has reached almost 138 million subscribers and is ready to take the lead in streaming worldwide.

Third, free up resources. (where planning and execution are married)

Resource allocation impacts execution like no other activity. And it’s the biggest obstacle that businesses face. Why? Because they underestimate it. No  strategic initiative  is executed without the proper resources backing it up. It sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised how little time strategists spend on freeing and reallocating resources according to their top priorities. This is how you transform your strategy into an action plan.

Here is one tip for resource allocation. Set the opportunity cost for your freed-up and easily disengaged resources. Thus, when prioritizing initiatives and projects, estimate whether the resources that each initiative demands are worth dedicating.

A successful strategic planning example

After the development of their strategic plan, one of our clients concluded that they had to hire 20% more people to support all of their strategic initiatives.

But when they put their plan into Cascade , they got a clear overview of their initiatives and the dedicated resources. And they were dumbstruck. The clear view of their plan had them realize that their resource allocation was terribly biased. In fact, most of their human resources were focused on 2-3 priorities. Once they reworked their plan, they decided there was no need to hire any new people.

They ended up saving millions in wasted time, energy, and an unnecessary increase in their workforce.

The lesson? The  tools  you use for strategic planning have a serious financial impact.

6. Govern the strategy with the intention of adapting it

As a defending player, you have a huge competitive advantage over any attacker.

If, and only if, you're strategically alert.

When it comes to strategic competition, the business purgatory is filled with companies that “launched” their strategies but failed to adapt to their changing environment. Think of Toys “R” Us. The giant children’s brand focused on a strategy that was historically successful but didn’t notice (or take seriously) the rise of eCommerce, failing to adapt its business model, arguably the only opportunity that could help it generate enough revenue to pay off its debt.

Here is how you make strategy an iterative process.

Accommodate execution during strategic planning and inform your plan by tracking its execution.

Automate reporting on key metrics.

One of the reasons that in most large companies, the execution process doesn’t inform their strategic planning is due to immense friction on the reporting side. If it takes you weeks to get an  overview of your strategy’s performance  (with lagging data), then you can’t review progress on a quarterly basis. Because by the time you gather all the data, review them and make decisions, you need to start all over again.

To save time, you need to drive meetings with  KPI templates . If you’re not sure how to start, read our guide on  how to write KPIs .

Lead progress discussions with the right context.

Numbers are useless on their own

Five new sales this week don’t tell you anything. A 50% increase in sales due to the higher loading speed of your homepage is a much more useful piece of information. When reviewing the performance of your strategy, discuss judgment calls and the context surrounding the numbers.

The secret is to have these discussions  regularly . Touching base weekly or even just monthly goes a long way in making sure that your people are focused on the right things and that your strategy is grounded in reality.

A supply chain strategic planning example

Having a great supply chain strategy planning process impacts a company’s competitive position.

Especially when the supply chain strategy complements the organization’s business model and overall strategy. In early 2000,  Unilever  executed one of the bes t supply chain strategies  positioning it in an extremely advantageous position. They called it C.P.F.R. Strategy which stands for Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment.

It was a very deliberate collaboration with Unilever’s customers to dramatically increase responsiveness while respecting the retailer’s zero-inventory policy. It focused on close communication to increase forecast accuracy since predictions between Unilever and its customers didn’t always agree.

Unilever ended up saving more than $14 billion by identifying and addressing a challenge that, once solved, provided a powerful competitive advantage.

Example of strategic planning in healthcare

Pfizer’s focus on r&d.

Pfizer is one of the world's top pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporations with sales of over $83 billion.

The company’s focus has always been the Research & Development of new drugs and improved treatments. However, with a strong devotion to improving global healthcare, the company innovates in packaging and delivery systems to ensure that its drugs reach the right hands at the right time.

Recently, Pfizer has invested heavily in oncology with many acquisitions and has increased its product range dramatically. In addition, the development of its own version of the COVID-19 vaccine has helped the company retain its competitive edge. That wouldn’t be possible without its heavy investment in R&D.

Today, Pfizer’s assets are estimated to be beyond $180 billion and its stock price is upwards of $50.

A strategy plan without a conversation around strategic risk is, at best… risky.

Most business leaders do a great job at managing risk in their respective business units. When they build their individual plans, they make sure to determine ambitious goals while mitigating potential risks. However, the way they do it sets the corporate-level strategy up for mediocrity. And the strategy plan will remain relatively stagnant, and the organization will be at the mercy of a competitor’s bold move.

But you can avoid stagnation with the following two  strategic risk management strategies .

1. Separate the risk management discussion

During strategic planning, businesses have a brainstorming session about growth opportunities.

This isn’t the time to hold back.

Don’t allow ideas and opportunities to be shut down by “howevers,” fears or doubts. This is the time for ambition and boldness. When you list growth opportunities and ideas, kill any objection and leave the conversation of strategic risks for another day. That way, your team can focus its attention on spotting opportunities beyond their respective business units’ benefit and for the organization’s overall benefit.

Only once all the best ideas are at the table do you start a discussion around  strategic risk management .

A separate discussion on strategic risk management forces your team to discuss strategic risks as a team. This is important. It means your people will feel a  shared responsibility  for managing the risks and won’t withhold any information in fear of assuming the full weight of mitigating the dangers. When people mix growth discussions with potential dangers, they hide  strategic initiatives  with high potential risk because they don’t want to put their necks on the line. 

At the same time, when risks are discussed so openly, you’re able to take a proactive stance by building a holistic plan. Everyone chimes in and gives their point of view to help develop a comprehensive risk management plan. The team tackles the dangers of high-risk strategic initiatives cooperatively, involving more than one leader, thus sharing the responsibility. Of course, such an approach requires you to maintain politics on a relatively low level.

Separating the risk management discussion helps you to apply the next strategy, as well.

2. Manage strategic risk at the corporate level first

Most organizations neglect to manage strategic risk at the corporate level.

They end up making trade-off decisions on the business-unit level, optimizing for individual performance. That leaves the organization’s efforts scattered. They end up adjusting the strategy’s long-term goals to the potential of each business unit’s individual plan. And they fail to acquire or maintain their competitive advantage. They stagnate.

Here’s how you can avoid that.

Since you’ve had separate conversations on growth opportunities and strategic risks, you can develop different scenarios and explore their risk profiles individually. Those scenarios optimize the performance of the organization as a whole and manage business units at a portfolio level. Why is that important? Because building a strategic plan around a big move to gain an “unfair” competitive advantage usually means that resource allocation is heavily biased. 

Some leaders will get significantly more resources than others. Risk management at a portfolio level entailσ resource allocation at a portfolio level, too.

There is an added benefit when you frame scenarios on that scale.

You get to explicitly consider environmental changes that usually are implied or go under the radar. We are talking about macroeconomic and geopolitical factors. In these discussions, you make your predictions and plan accordingly. Most importantly, you’ll be able to shift your approach much faster in case your predictions were way off.

Managing strategic risks is an art of its own.

Recommended reading: Risk Matrix: How To Use It In Strategic Planning

If you want to develop a well-structured plan with no duplicate efforts and a predisposition for execution, then read our dedicated article series on  how to write a strategic plan  that comes with  a strategic planning template .

strategic planning framework infographic

Here are the 6 most important elements of strategic planning:

  • Long-term vision
  • Culture’s values
  • Focus Areas AKA your top strategic priorities
  • Plan’s objectives
  • Projects to achieve those objectives
  • KPIs to measure progress

And remember, one crucial  element of strategic planning  is accountability. Every single part of your plan needs to have one or two people responsible for them. That’s how you make sure that people will follow through with the plan.

A modern strategic planning course

Strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. Or boring.

And in Cascade, we proved that by holding the biggest and most entertaining strategy event ever. Attendees of the  Strategy Fest 2022  listened to more than seven strategists of companies like Amazon, FedEx, McDonald’s and Mastercard revealing their secrets for strategy execution.

Everybody enjoyed the event (it included a tango show and a magician) and learned how to make their strategies engaging, how to foolproof them, and even winning Monopoly tactics. 

The ambition was to make Strategy Fest 2022 a  modern  strategic planning course: fun and educational.

And it was.

Engagement, that’s the secret to strategy execution . If your people don’t read the information they’re presented with, it ultimately won’t matter. Nobody will execute the plan.

We see too often leaders send out the PowerPoint slides (they call it “launching their strategy) with no  engagement plan . And when people’s engagement with strategy is only an afterthought, it’s extremely difficult to pull it through.

Identify key stakeholders

Inside and outside the organization, make a list of their invested interest and where exactly you need their input. Before you meet with each stakeholder group, distinguish between the different kinds of information you need to share. For example, shareholders care more about the high-level part of the plan and its business outcomes.

Cascade your strategy

People care for things they helped create, so co-create strategy.

In the words of Ilanna Rosen, innovation and strategy leader at IKEA :

When you involve people, when you ask them their opinions, they feel a lot more inclined to actually execute the thing later on. And when you co-create strategy, strategy itself can become a change management tool.

Of course, that’s not possible on all strategy levels. At the highest level (corporate), you can’t include people more than two reporting levels away from the top. When you  cascade your strategy , you do it at the business and functional level.

But how do you distribute top priorities while ensuring company-wide alignment and minimizing contradictions in goals and measures?

You frame strategy as choices.

And communicate guidelines and the overall direction. 

When trying to simplify your strategic plan, don’t mistake business goals for strategy. It’s not enough to have ambitious goals to rally your company behind them. People don’t wake up excited to “double the company’s market share this year.” People engage with the strategy when they have a clear purpose, a clear context for decisions. Give them that.

Communicate your vision and the general direction of the business in a way that guides decision-making (and if you want to remove all friction from that process, use a digital platform like Cascade –  hundreds of organizations use our strategic planning template to share their direction with their teams ).

All the rest you can delegate and revise.

Expose your strategic plan

Presenting your strategy just ain’t gonna cut it.

If you want your employees to engage with the strategic plan, you need to give them access to its latest version. Remove the friction from the process. When people want to have a quick look at the strategy, don’t make them search for the latest version and lose time trying to navigate a 200+ slide deck.

Instead, use a digital platform where updating progress is easy, centralized, and available on-demand. Does your marketing team want to check campaign deadlines and goals? Does sales need to refresh its KPI targets? Whenever people need more context to make a decision, they can jump on the platform and get it.

And, trust me, in the end, people will learn to rely on the company’s priorities to make decisions.

Align culture with strategy

If your strategy isn’t compatible with your culture, no amount of hype,  change management strategies , or transformational campaigns will ever get the gears moving.

Your plan will die as soon as it gets out of the board room.

Keep in mind that at the end of the day, your people will execute the strategy. So, make a cultural inventory and ask yourself, “what kind of culture do we need to have to achieve our ambitions?” Then take a good look at your current culture and locate the gap you need to cross. 

When doing a  cultural inventory , only two things matter:

  • The values of the organization.
  • People’s behavior.

Make a list of all the behaviors people consistently do and avoid. Be  honest,  or else this exercise won’t help. 

Once you determine the values that your business’s current culture lacks (or need reinforcing), ensure the leadership team embodies them. You can’t dictate culture just like you can’t order a kid to “read more.” You have to “act” what you preach. If you read daily, then your kids will follow your steps. It’s the same with organizational values.

Exercise them and embody them, don’t dictate them. People’s behavior will adapt to the new standard once you start doing two things:

  • Shut down quickly and decisively any bad behaviors. Where “bad” is that kind of behavior that doesn’t agree with your desired values.
  • Reward behavior that is consistent with your desired values. That includes promotion. If you promote people solely because of their performance, you signal to people that “you can be a cultural misfit, but as long as you perform, you’ll do well here.” That’s no way to a cultural transformation. Your most rewarded performers must also be the strongest advocates of your organizational values.

Remember, when strategy opposes culture, strategy loses.

In the past couple decades, most business disciplines have evolved to fit in the digital age, except for strategy.

Strategy has remained in a pre-cloud era. Almost in a pre-internet era. And that’s reflected in today’s prevalent  strategic planning tools . Most leaders use tools whose conception predates the internet and are unsuited to meet the modern business’s strategic needs. Specifically, the need to adapt their strategy when things change AND put it into action almost immediately.

Spreadsheets and slides are obsolete in strategic planning.

And utterly ineffective in strategic execution, because they’re static and hard to read. Nobody starts their work day by opening a 100+ pages long document to ensure today’s activities are linked to strategy. And, quite frankly, nobody should.

But it’s possible to link front-line activities directly to strategic initiatives while maintaining strategic flexibility. How?

By adopting a strategic planning software to accelerate strategy execution

People execute strategies. And to get your strategy plan out of the boardroom and into your people’s hands, you need to adapt and implement strategic planning software . Here’s what you can achieve with a digital platform that is impossible with static tools:

1. Link strategy to daily activities

Is it possible to connect the corporate-level strategy with the daily activities of your employees at the bottom of your organizational structure with a spreadsheet?

Maybe, if you have a team obsessed enough. Is it worth it, though? Absolutely not. By the time you create that strategic document, parts of your strategy plan will have changed, rendering some information obsolete. And you won’t even know which information is that.

Besides, nobody would read it - making it worthless. Do you think, for example,  Nike’s  CEO John Donahoe expects their salespeople to consult a spreadsheet with the company’s strategic priorities before their shift begins? Of course, not. But he expects them to know the strategic priorities and make decisions based on them.

Understanding the difference naturally takes you looking for effective ways to communicate your strategy.

2. Provide on-demand access to your strategy plan

And, in fact, to the latest version of your strategy plan.

When people engage with the strategy more often, strategy execution (and performance) goes up. By removing friction and opening access to the strategy plan, you invite people in. Playing hide-and-seek with your plan leaves people frustrated and mistrustful.

Having on-demand access to the company’s strategy empowers people to engage, understand their impact to the company’s growth and ultimately take ownership of their projects and actions.

3. Increase your strategic flexibility

The most unforgivable trait of static tools like spreadsheets and slides is their lack of effective updating.

When a sudden shift in the market or the competitor landscape forces your company to revisit its strategy and reevaluate its priorities, you can’t distribute the revised strategic plan on spreadsheets. Unless you don’t care about its execution. By their cloud-based nature, strategic planning software distributes changes and new priorities almost instantly.

Strategic flexibility isn’t just a sudden, even effective, change in the strategy plan. It’s the implementation of that change, as well.

Strategic planning software for higher education

Strategic planning in higher education institutions is highly disjointed.

Universities create an overall plan that ends up as a marketing brochure. Every department creates its own strategy plan that rarely - if ever - links back to the overall strategy. That means that faculties work in silos and they don’t share any information regarding strategy.

As Ball State University learned , this is easily solved with increased transparency and the right tools. By adopting strategic planning software to help them organize and execute their plan, they have increased trust with all of their stakeholders. Plus, they hit their strategic goals.

Static tools simply can’t compete with strategic planning software.

The fallacy most companies make is they think that if their plan is perfect, people will execute it. That's one of  the three myths of strategy that cripple execution .

As a result, they treat  strategic planning as something separate from daily operations .

Ask any executive, and they’ll be confident that everyone inside the organization is aware of the strategic priorities. Ask two front-line employees about the strategic priorities, and you’ll get two different answers (if you get any at all). Ask more, and you’ll start a brainstorming session.

The leader’s assumption that people align their daily activities with the company’s strategy is prevalent in large organizations. And it prevents them from facing the truth.

That most employees ignore strategy. They don’t care about it.

Which comes at a cost. Companies lose opportunities and revenue by failing to execute their plans or adapt fast enough.  Walmart  almost lost hundreds of millions in online sales during the holiday season by leaving its site upgrades for the last minute. How much would it have made if it had adapted its approach earlier? Probably millions more.

Free strategic planning template

Fast-track your strategic planning process with a  ready-to-go template  that will guide you from vision right through to results. Download now! or read more about it here!

  • Simple and clean design
  • Step-by-step process
  • Totally customizable
  • Battle-tested by THOUSANDS!

Your template comes in  Excel format  to allow you to work through each stage, from your top-level vision, values and objectives, right through to your KPIs. Don't worry, even if you're not sure about some of these, we'll help you along the way!

Feeling sick and tired of endless spreadsheets that need regular updates to keep them accurate? Pick your Cascade strategy plan template from our list of the most popular templates in our library. 

Do you need help with the development of your strategy?  Book a demo  with one of our strategy experts and learn how to execute your plan with Cascade’s platform.

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A guide to creating an effective strategic plan

what does a good strategic plan look like

Imagine setting off on a prospecting adventure with nothing but a backpack. In the distance are expansive, snow-capped mountains, perhaps full of gold, solitude, or other treasures. It looks promising!

A Guide To Creating An Effective Strategic Plan

But you realize you have no map. How far away are those mountains? What barriers exist between here and there? Are you prepared to survive in extreme weather conditions?

Oh, and by the way, you’re leading a group of people. They want to know where you’re headed, why you’ve set your sights there, what’s required from them, and how you all plan to get there. Soon enough they’ll turn a critical eye your way when something goes wrong.

Being an effective leader is not easy, but it’s possible if you arm yourself with a strategic plan. Taking the time to develop a strategic plan shows you’re serious about pursuing a common goal, you’ve thought about what you’ll need to overcome, and you’ve brought the right people to the table who have a stake in your combined success.

In this article, you will learn what a strategic plan is, why it’s important, and what should go into one.

What is a strategic plan?

Strategic plans can take many forms, but their common goal is to provide a north star , inspiring your team and intriguing investors. Not only do they communicate where you’re going, they break down how you’ll get there.

Strategic plans are needed at different levels of an organization, including:

  • Corporate level (long-term outlooks, 5-10+ years)
  • Business line or program level (mid-term outlooks, 2-3 years)
  • Product or functional level (shorter-term outlooks, quarterly to 18 months)

What are the components of a strategic plan?

There is no single authority defining the absolute components of a strategic plan, so think of it as another tool in your product management toolbox. Understand its purpose, then tune it to meet your team’s specific needs. Some plans might manifest as a five-page presentation; others might be a large, formal document. Either way, strategic plans at all levels generally consist of:

Vision and mission

Operational plan.

  • Defines your high-level purpose
  • Where are we going and why?
  • Where do we see ourselves in a few years?
  • How does our product strategy align with the organization strategy ?
  • Organization-level vision and mission (for reference and alignment)
  • Organization and/or team cultural document citing core values (what do you believe as a team, and why?)
  • SWOT analysis (what are your product’s and/or organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?)
  • Market intelligence (what market opportunities exist now and in the future for your product domain, and what are your customers indicating they want and will pay for?)
  • Competitive intelligence (what makes your product or service different from the rest?)
  • McKenzie Horizons Model (typically reserved for corporate strategy, you can also use this to show the short-, mid-, and long-term strategy for your product)
  • Defines your specific goals
  • What kinds of customer problems are we trying to solve?
  • What kinds of solutions can/ should our team deliver?
  • What does success look like?
  • Your vision and mission definitions (so you’re always pointing to the north star)
  • Customer personas (defining your target customers, and why)
  • OKRs (objectives and key results, which break the vision into measurable targets that can later be measured with KPIs — key performance indicators)
  • Balanced scorecard (define your objectives in four key pillars: customers, financial, internal process, and learning and growth)
  • Defines how you will achieve your specific goals and turn your vision into a reality
  • How will we get there?
  • How will we allocate resources and talent?
  • How will we prioritize and coordinate our efforts cross-functionally?
  • When might we deliver certain components, and in what order?
  • What dependencies exist?
  • How will we react to new information that may influence the plan?
  • How will we monitor progress and evaluate iterative goals?
  • Short-, mid-, and long-range roadmaps
  • Staffing and resource plans
  • Release plans showing tasks, dependencies, and milestones (these may be depicted as sprint plans and/or program increment (PI) plans)
  • Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) (a way to prioritize features and development activities for your release plans based on cost of delay)

Steps for creating a strategic plan

Before creating a strategic plan, consider why you need one, who else needs it, and what’s in it for them. Your strategic plan is, effectively, a product. Create it the same way you would create a product — bring the right people around the table, including representatives from each of those core areas we just discussed above:

  • Define your audience for the strategic plan. In this case, it’s likely your immediate team, your stakeholders, and your executives
  • For your team , it’s feeling a connection to the vision. That will motivate them to return to work each day, and find ways to collaborate through conflict
  • For your stakeholders , it’s understanding where you’re focusing your resources — time, money, and people — so everyone is aware of your team’s priorities and better understands what to expect, when, and how to work with you to achieve their goals
  • For your executives , it’s knowing about key milestones, and how the plans align with others across the organization
  • Study your org and business-level plans to understand where the organization is headed and how your line of business will contribute to that vision
  • Define a vision and mission for your team and/or product that aligns everyone to a north star
  • Know your customers and how your product will help them solve their problems
  • Work collaboratively to deliver against the org’s broader vision and your product vision
  • Find the best solutions (via a rapid build-measure-learn process)
  • Hold themselves accountable for measurable results
  • Develop a roadmap showing high-level themes each team will pursue towards those common objectives
  • Pause and reflect. If you show a cross-functional group how to work through these steps to achieve your first common objective, they’ll be more prepared to repeat this process in defining the operational components

But your job isn’t done. Next you’ll support the development of the operational plan, including prioritizing features and non-functional requirements, managing and coaching your team, and helping them remove blockers. In turn, they’ll self organize, define the key elements of a release plan, and together, you’ll make incremental progress towards those objectives.

There’s one final element of a strategic plan that shouldn’t be overlooked: communication. Part of your strategic plan should be defining how you’ll communicate frequently with all your stakeholders.

Strategic plan template

You can use the following template to help you get started:

[Product name] strategic plan

*This part may be mental, but is nonetheless a commitment that you make to yourself and your stakeholders to keep everyone informed.

Key takeaways

Developing a strategic plan for your product(s) will help you:

  • Communicate your product vision and mission to internal and external stakeholders
  • Motivate your immediate and cross-functional teams to unite toward common objectives
  • Empower those teams and individuals to achieve key results aligned to those common objectives

Communicate. Motivate. Empower. That is, in essence, the purpose of your strategic plan.

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what does a good strategic plan look like

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  • What is strategic planning? A 5-step gu ...

What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

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What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 

Weaknesses:

What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 

Opportunities:

What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

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Essential Guide to the Strategic Planning Process

By Joe Weller | April 3, 2019 (updated March 26, 2024)

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In this article, you’ll learn the basics of the strategic planning process and how a strategic plan guides you to achieving your organizational goals. Plus, find expert insight on getting the most out of your strategic planning.

Included on this page, you'll discover the importance of strategic planning , the steps of the strategic planning process , and the basic sections to include in your strategic plan .

What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is an organizational activity that aims to achieve a group’s goals. The process helps define a company’s objectives and investigates both internal and external happenings that might influence the organizational path. Strategic planning also helps identify adjustments that you might need to make to reach your goal. Strategic planning became popular in the 1960s because it helped companies set priorities and goals, strengthen operations, and establish agreement among managers about outcomes and results.

Strategic planning can occur over multiple years, and the process can vary in length, as can the final plan itself. Ideally, strategic planning should result in a document, a presentation, or a report that sets out a blueprint for the company’s progress.

By setting priorities, companies help ensure employees are working toward common and defined goals. It also aids in defining the direction an enterprise is heading, efficiently using resources to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. Based on the plan, managers can make decisions or allocate the resources necessary to pursue the strategy and minimize risks.

Strategic planning strengthens operations by getting input from people with differing opinions and building a consensus about the company’s direction. Along with focusing energy and resources, the strategic planning process allows people to develop a sense of ownership in the product they create.

John Bryson

“Strategic planning is not really one thing. It is really a set of concepts, procedures, tools, techniques, and practices that have to be adapted to specific contexts and purposes,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement . “Strategic planning is a prompt to foster strategic thinking, acting, and learning, and they all matter and they are all connected.”

What Strategic Planning Is Not

Strategic planning is not a to-do list for the short or long term — it is the basis of a business, its direction, and how it will get there.

“You have to think very strategically about strategic planning. It is more than just following steps,” Bryson explains. “You have to understand strategic planning is not some kind of magic solution to fixing issues. Don’t have unrealistic expectations.”

Strategic planning is also different from a business plan that focuses on a specific product, service, or program and short-term goals. Rather, strategic planning means looking at the big picture.

While they are related, it is important not to confuse strategic planning with strategic thinking, which is more about imagining and innovating in a way that helps a company. In contrast, strategic planning supports those thoughts and helps you figure out how to make them a reality.

Another part of strategic planning is tactical planning , which involves looking at short-term efforts to achieve longer-term goals.

Lastly, marketing plans are not the same as strategic plans. A marketing plan is more about introducing and delivering a service or product to the public instead of how to grow a business. For more about marketing plans and processes, read this article .

Strategic plans include information about finances, but they are different from financial planning , which involves different processes and people. Financial planning templates can help with that process.

Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

In today’s technological age, strategic plans provide businesses with a path forward. Strategic plans help companies thrive, not just survive — they provide a clear focus, which makes an organization more efficient and effective, thereby increasing productivity.

Stefan Hofmeyer

“You are not going to go very far if you don’t have a strategic plan. You need to be able to show where you are going,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . He lives in the startup-rich environment of northern California and says he often sees startups fail to get seed money because they do not have a strong plan for what they want to do and how they want to do it.

Getting team members on the same page (in both creating a strategic plan and executing the plan itself) can be beneficial for a company. Planners can find satisfaction in the process and unite around a common vision. In addition, you can build strong teams and bridge gaps between staff and management.

“You have to reach agreement about good ideas,” Bryson says. “A really good strategy has to meet a lot of criteria. It has to be technically workable, administratively feasible, politically acceptable, and legally, morally, and ethically defensible, and that is a pretty tough list.”

By discussing a company’s issues during the planning process, individuals can voice their opinions and provide information necessary to move the organization ahead — a form of problem solving as a group.

Strategic plans also provide a mechanism to measure success and progress toward goals, which keeps employees on the same page and helps them focus on the tasks at hand.

When Is the Time to Do Strategic Planning?

There is no perfect time to perform strategic planning. It depends entirely on the organization and the external environment that surrounds it. However, here are some suggestions about when to plan:

If your industry is changing rapidly

When an organization is launching

At the start of a new year or funding period

In preparation for a major new initiative

If regulations and laws in your industry are or will be changing

“It’s not like you do all of the thinking and planning, and then implement,” Bryson says. “A mistake people make is [believing] the thinking has to precede the acting and the learning.”

Even if you do not re-create the entire planning process often, it is important to periodically check your plan and make sure it is still working. If not, update it.

What Is the Strategic Planning Process?

Strategic planning is a process, and not an easy one. A key is to make sure you allow enough time to complete the process without rushing, but not take so much time that you lose momentum and focus. The process itself can be more important than the final document due to the information that comes out of the discussions with management, as well as lower-level workers.

Jim Stockmal

“There is not one favorite or perfect planning process,” says Jim Stockmal, president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He explains that new techniques come out constantly, and consultants and experienced planners have their favorites. In an effort to standardize the practice and terms used in strategic planning, ASP has created two certification programs .

Level 1 is the Strategic Planning Professional (SPP) certification. It is designed for early- or mid-career planners who work in strategic planning. Level 2, the Strategic Management Professional (SMP) certification, is geared toward seasoned professionals or those who train others. Stockmal explains that ASP designed the certification programs to add structure to the otherwise amorphous profession.

The strategic planning process varies by the size of the organization and can be formal or informal, but there are constraints. For example, teams of all sizes and goals should build in many points along the way for feedback from key leaders — this helps the process stay on track.

Some elements of the process might have specific start and end points, while others are continuous. For example, there might not be one “aha” moment that suddenly makes things clear. Instead, a series of small moves could slowly shift the organization in the right direction.

“Don’t make it overly complex. Bring all of the stakeholders together for input and feedback,” Stockmal advises. “Always be doing a continuous environmental scan, and don’t be afraid to engage with stakeholders.”

Additionally, knowing your company culture is important. “You need to make it work for your organization,” he says.

There are many different ways to approach the strategic planning process. Below are three popular approaches:

Goals-Based Planning: This approach begins by looking at an organization’s mission and goals. From there, you work toward that mission, implement strategies necessary to achieve those goals, and assign roles and deadlines for reaching certain milestones.

Issues-Based Planning: In this approach, start by looking at issues the company is facing, then decide how to address them and what actions to take.

Organic Planning: This approach is more fluid and begins with defining mission and values, then outlining plans to achieve that vision while sticking to the values.

“The approach to strategic planning needs to be contingent upon the organization, its history, what it’s capable of doing, etc.,” Bryson explains. “There’s such a mistake to think there’s one approach.”

For more information on strategic planning, read about how to write a strategic plan and the different types of models you can use.

Who Participates in the Strategic Planning Process?

For work as crucial as strategic planning, it is necessary to get the right team together and include them from the beginning of the process. Try to include as many stakeholders as you can.

Below are suggestions on who to include:

Senior leadership

Strategic planners

Strategists

People who will be responsible for implementing the plan

People to identify gaps in the plan

Members of the board of directors

“There can be magic to strategic planning, but it’s not in any specific framework or anybody’s 10-step process,” Bryson explains. “The magic is getting key people together, getting them to focus on what’s important, and [getting] them to do something about it. That’s where the magic is.”

Hofmeyer recommends finding people within an organization who are not necessarily current leaders, but may be in the future. “Sometimes they just become obvious. Usually they show themselves to you, you don’t need to look for them. They’re motivated to participate,” he says. These future leaders are the ones who speak up at meetings or on other occasions, who put themselves out there even though it is not part of their job description.

At the beginning of the process, establish guidelines about who will be involved and what will be expected of them. Everyone involved must be willing to cooperate and collaborate. If there is a question about whether or not to include anyone, it is usually better to bring on extra people than to leave someone out, only to discover later they should have been a part of the process all along. Not everyone will be involved the entire time; people will come and go during different phases.

Often, an outside facilitator or consultant can be an asset to a strategic planning committee. It is sometimes difficult for managers and other employees to sit back and discuss what they need to accomplish as a company and how they need to do it without considering other factors. As objective observers, outside help can often offer insight that may escape insiders.

Hofmeyer says sometimes bosses have blinders on that keep them from seeing what is happening around them, which allows them to ignore potential conflicts. “People often have their own agendas of where they want to go, and if they are not aligned, it is difficult to build a strategic plan. An outsider perspective can really take you out of your bubble and tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear [but should]. We get into a rhythm, and it’s really hard to step out of that, so bringing in outside people can help bring in new views and aspects of your business.”

An outside consultant can also help naysayers take the process more seriously because they know the company is investing money in the efforts, Hofmeyer adds.

No matter who is involved in the planning process, make sure at least one person serves as an administrator and documents all planning committee actions.

What Is in a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan communicates goals and what it takes to achieve them. The plan sometimes begins with a high-level view, then becomes more specific. Since strategic plans are more guidebooks than rulebooks, they don’t have to be bureaucratic and rigid. There is no perfect plan; however, it needs to be realistic.

There are many sections in a strategic plan, and the length of the final document or presentation will vary. The names people use for the sections differ, but the general ideas behind them are similar: Simply make sure you and your team agree on the terms you will use and what each means.

One-Page Strategic Planning Template

“I’m a big fan of getting a strategy onto one sheet of paper. It’s a strategic plan in a nutshell, and it provides a clear line of sight,” Stockmal advises.

You can use the template below to consolidate all your strategic ideas into a succinct, one-page strategic plan. Doing so provides you with a high-level overview of your strategic initiatives that you can place on your website, distribute to stakeholders, and refer to internally. More extensive details about implementation, capacity, and other concerns can go into an expanded document.

One Page Strategic Planning Template

Download One-Page Strategic Planning Template Excel | Word | Smartsheet

The most important part of the strategic plan is the executive summary, which contains the highlights of the plan. Although it appears at the beginning of the plan, it should be written last, after you have done all your research.

Of writing the executive summary, Stockmal says, “I find it much easier to extract and cut and edit than to do it first.”

For help with creating executive summaries, see these templates .

Other parts of a strategic plan can include the following:

Description: A description of the company or organization.

Vision Statement: A bold or inspirational statement about where you want your company to be in the future.

Mission Statement: In this section, describe what you do today, your audience, and your approach as you work toward your vision.

Core Values: In this section, list the beliefs and behaviors that will enable you to achieve your mission and, eventually, your vision.

Goals: Provide a few statements of how you will achieve your vision over the long term.

Objectives: Each long-term goal should have a few one-year objectives that advance the plan. Make objectives SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, and time-based) to get the most out of them.

Budget and Operating Plans: Highlight resources you will need and how you will implement them.

Monitoring and Evaluation: In this section, describe how you will check your progress and determine when you achieve your goals.

One of the first steps in creating a strategic plan is to perform both an internal and external analysis of the company’s environment. Internally, look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the personal values of those who will implement your plan (managers, executives, board members). Externally, examine threats and opportunities within the industry and any broad societal expectations that might exist.

You can perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to sum up where you are currently and what you should focus on to help you achieve your future goals. Strengths shows you what you do well, weaknesses point out obstacles that could keep you from achieving your objectives, opportunities highlight where you can grow, and threats pinpoint external factors that could be obstacles in your way.

You can find more information about performing a SWOT analysis and free templates in this article . Another analysis technique, STEEPLE (social, technological, economic, environmental, political, legal, and ethical), often accompanies a SWOT analysis.

Basics of Strategic Planning

How you navigate the strategic planning process will vary. Several tools and techniques are available, and your choice depends on your company’s leadership, culture, environment, and size, as well as the expertise of the planners.

All include similar sections in the final plan, but the ways of driving those results differ. Some tools are goals-based, while others are issues- or scenario-based. Some rely on a more organic or rigid process.

Hofmeyer summarizes what goes into strategic planning:

Understand the stakeholders and involve them from the beginning.

Agree on a vision.

Hold successful meetings and sessions.

Summarize and present the plan to stakeholders.

Identify and check metrics.

Make periodic adjustments.

Items That Go into Strategic Planning

Strategic planning contains inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. Inputs and activities are elements that are internal to the company, while outputs and outcomes are external.

Remember, there are many different names for the sections of strategic plans. The key is to agree what terms you will use and define them for everyone involved.

Inputs are important because it is impossible to know where you are going until you know what is around you where you are now.

Companies need to gather data from a variety of sources to get a clear look at the competitive environment and the opportunities and risks within that environment. You can think of it like a competitive intelligence program.

Data should come from the following sources:

Interviews with executives

A review of documents about the competition or market that are publicly available

Primary research by visiting or observing competitors

Studies of your industry

The values of key stakeholders

This information often goes into writing an organization’s vision and mission statements.

Activities are the meetings and other communications that need to happen during the strategic planning process to help everyone understand the competition that surrounds the organization.

It is important both to understand the competitive environment and your company’s response to it. This is where everyone looks at and responds to the data gathered from the inputs.

The strategic planning process produces outputs. Outputs can be as basic as the strategic planning document itself. The documentation and communications that describe your organization’s strategy, as well as financial statements and budgets, can also be outputs.

The implementation of the strategic plan produces outcomes (distinct from outputs). The outcomes determine the success or failure of the strategic plan by measuring how close they are to the goals and vision you outline in your plan.

It is important to understand there will be unplanned and unintended outcomes, too. How you learn from and adapt to these changes influence the success of the strategic plan.

During the planning process, decide how you will measure both the successes and failures of different parts of the strategic plan.

Sharing, Evaluating, and Monitoring the Progress of a Strategic Plan

After companies go through a lengthy strategic planning process, it is important that the plan does not sit and collect dust. Share, evaluate, and monitor the plan to assess how you are doing and make any necessary updates.

“[Some] leaders think that once they have their strategy, it’s up to someone else to execute it. That’s a mistake I see,” Stockmal says.

The process begins with distributing and communicating the plan. Decide who will get a copy of the plan and how those people will tell others about it. Will you have a meeting to kick off the implementation? How will you specify who will do what and when? Clearly communicate the roles people will have.

“Before you communicate the plan [to everyone], you need to have the commitment of stakeholders,” Hofmeyer recommends. Have the stakeholders be a part of announcing the plan to everyone — this keeps them accountable because workers will associate them with the strategy. “That applies pressure to the stakeholders to actually do the work.”

Once the team begins implementation, it’s necessary to have benchmarks to help measure your successes against the plan’s objectives. Sometimes, having smaller action plans within the larger plan can help keep the work on track.

During the planning process, you should have decided how you will measure success. Now, figure out how and when you will document progress. Keep an eye out for gaps between the vision and its implementation — a big gap could be a sign that you are deviating from the plan.

Tools are available to assist with tracking performance of strategic plans, including several types of software. “For some organizations, a spreadsheet is enough, but you are going to manually enter the data, so someone needs to be responsible for that,” Stockmal recommends.

Remember: strategic plans are not written in stone. Some deviation will be necessary, and when it happens, it’s important to understand why it occurred and how the change might impact the company's vision and goals.

Deviation from the plan does not mean failure, reminds Hofmeyer. Instead, understanding what transpired is the key. “Things happen, [and] you should always be on the lookout for that. I’m a firm believer in continuous improvement,” he says. Explain to stakeholders why a change is taking place. “There’s always a sense of re-evaluation, but do it methodically.”

Build in a schedule to review and amend the plan as necessary; this can help keep companies on track.

What Is Strategic Management?

Strategic planning is part of strategic management, and it involves the activities that make the strategic plan a reality. Essentially, strategic management is getting from the starting point to the goal effectively and efficiently using the ongoing activities and processes that a company takes on in order to keep in line with its mission, vision, and strategic plan.

“[Strategic management] closes the gap between the plan and executing the strategy,” Stockmal of ASP says. Strategic management is part of a larger planning process that includes budgeting, forecasting, capital allocation, and more.

There is no right or wrong way to do strategic management — only guidelines. The basic phases are preparing for strategic planning, creating the strategic plan, and implementing that plan.

No matter how you manage your plan, it’s key to allow the strategic plan to evolve and grow as necessary, due to both the internal and external factors.

“We get caught up in all of the day-to-day issues,” Stockmal explains, adding that people do not often leave enough time for implementing the plan and making progress. That’s what strategic management implores: doing things that are in the plan and not letting the plan sit on a shelf.

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When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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Learn What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan

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Strategic Planning , Strategic Planning Tools , Structure

What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan?

Many companies are looking for help, searching for an example of a strategic plan as a yardstick they can use to compare their own plans. But strategic plans can come in many forms, shapes, and sizes; they are not a “one size fits all” document.  There are simple strategic plans that include goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics, as well as complex plan structures that include multiple levels and layers. How developed your plan needs to be depends on several factors, including the level of accountability you are trying to create, the time frame for implementing the plan, and the culture of your organization. In this post, you’ll see an example of a strategic plan that is most common among businesses today.

Strategic Plan Example: Basic Structure

At a minimum, strategic and operational plans contain three levels that serve specific functions. These are listed in inverse order as they appear in a plan, to demonstrate the linkage from bottom up:

  • Tactics: These are task assignments that must be carried out on an individual basis. These action items comprise the strategies. For instance, if you have a client satisfaction strategy that focuses on an annual client event, there are a number of things that must be completed in order for the event to happen. These are the tactics, which include due dates, deliverables, and are assigned to specific people for execution.
  • Strategies: The collection of tactics need a name, and this name is the strategy. The name of the strategy provides the focus for something specific, and the strategy itself contains individual tactics. As such, strategies are the broad action-oriented items that we implement to achieve the objectives. In this example, the client event strategy is designed to improve overall client satisfaction. We may have additional strategies aimed at improving client satisfaction, and each of these other strategies will have a collection of tactics, too.
  • Objectives: These are quantifiable and measurable targets, that answer the questions of how much, by when. There is an old adage that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. As such, plans without measurable objectives are no plans at all; they are merely task lists. Objectives include baseline performance, targeted performance, and an established date for achieving the objective. Any example of a strategic plan must include objectives, as they are the foundation for planning. In this example, our objective is to increase client satisfaction from 82% to 90% by December 31st. How we accomplish that is the business of strategies and tactics.

Strategic Plan Example: Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics

Objective 1: Increase client satisfaction from 82.0% to 90.0% by December 31st.

  • Strategy 1.1: Implement an annual client conference • Tactic 1.1.1: Identify date and venue • Tactic 1.1.2: Develop agenda • Tactic 1.1.3: Identify and invite speakers • Tactic 1.1.4: Develop social events • Tactic 1.1.5: Develop menus • Tactic 1.1.6: Develop invitations

Strategic Plan Example: Strategic Themes and Goals

Although objectives, strategies, and tactics are core elements in any example of a strategic plan, they are not the only elements. Many plans are more robust and include additional levels in the hierarchy. These levels are usually referred to as strategic themes and goals, and they come before objectives. As such, a fully developed plan would look like the example of a strategic plan below:

  • Strategic Themes: These are one- to three-word affinity group headings used to compartmentalize strategic and operational plans, such as Quality, Safety, People, Customers, Service, Finance, and Growth. For companies that use strategic themes, four to six such categories appear to be the most common.
  • Goals: These are broad statements that translate the organization’s vision statement into something more meaningful and time-bound. If strategic themes are also used, goal statements are used to translate the vision to specific strategic themes.
  • Objectives: Similar to above, Objectives are the quantifiable items that measure the success of your Goals, and ultimately your strategic plan. They should measure how you plan to increase, decrease, or maintain some key performance indicators critical to the success of the goal.
  • Strategies:  With an understanding of success measures, Strategies determine  how your strategic plan will be executed and ultimately move the needle on Objectives. In some organizations, strategies are called initiatives or projects or programs. Regardless of the term used, Strategies set the foundation for the actual work that will make up the plan itself.
  • Tactics:  To best execute a strategic plan, a strategy needs to be broken down properly. In many cases, these are your tactics. Tactics are the core components of your strategies that will help measure success towards completion. Tactics are NOT quick tasks that can be completed by checking a box and instead are milestones or key deliverables of the strategies.

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Strategic Plan Example: A Complete Plan

Strategic Theme : Satisfaction

Goal : To be considered a trusted partner by our clients

Objective 1:  Increase client satisfaction from 82.0% to 90.0% by December 31st.

Keep in mind that there are many acceptable formats for strategic plans and you should use the approach that is right for you. Some companies prefer the one-page approach and others don’t adhere to specific approaches other than perhaps implementing a basic structure like the ones above. Either way, remember that creating a strategic plan is only the beginning; the hard part is executing it .

The best way to ensure your plan gets executed is to get everything in view, get everyone engaged, and work with a team that will give you every possible advantage. When you’ve got your plan crafted and ready to execute, take these next steps .

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The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

To guide you through the strategic planning process, we created this 4 step process you can use with your team. we’ll cover the basic definition of strategic planning, what core elements you should include, and actionable steps to build your strategic plan..

Free Strategic Planning Guide

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic Planning is when a process where organizations define a bold vision and create a plan with objectives and goals to reach that future. A great strategic plan defines where your organization is going, how you’ll win, who must do what, and how you’ll review and adapt your strategy development.

A strategic plan or a business strategic plan should include the following:

  • Your organization’s vision organization’s vision of the future.
  • A clearly Articulated mission and values statement.
  • A current state assessment that evaluates your competitive environment, new opportunities, and new threats.
  • What strategic challenges you face.
  • A growth strategy and outlined market share.
  • Long-term strategic goals.
  • An annual plan with SMART goals or OKRs to support your strategic goals.
  • Clear measures, key performance indicators, and data analytics to measure progress.
  • A clear strategic planning cycle, including how you’ll review, refresh, and recast your plan every quarter.

Strategic Planning Video - What is Strategic Planning?

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process:

The strategic management process involves taking your organization on a journey from point A (where you are today) to point B (your vision of the future).

Part of that journey is the strategy built during strategic planning, and part of it is execution during the strategic management process. A good strategic plan dictates “how” you travel the selected road.

Effective execution ensures you are reviewing, refreshing, and recalibrating your strategy to reach your destination. The planning process should take no longer than 90 days. But, move at a pace that works best for you and your team and leverage this as a resource.

To kick this process off, we recommend 1-2 weeks (1-hour meeting with the Owner/CEO, Strategy Director, and Facilitator (if necessary) to discuss the information collected and direction for continued planning.)

Strategic Planning Guide and Process

Questions to Ask:

  • Who is on your Planning Team? What senior leadership members and key stakeholders are included? Checkout these links you need help finding a strategic planning consultant , someone to facilitate strategic planning , or expert AI strategy consulting .
  • Who will be the business process owner (Strategy Director) of planning in your organization?
  • Fast forward 12 months from now, what do you want to see differently in your organization as a result of your strategic plan and implementation?
  • Planning team members are informed of their roles and responsibilities.
  • A strategic planning schedule is established.
  • Existing planning information and secondary data collected.

Action Grid:

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process

Step 1: Determine Organizational Readiness

Set up your plan for success – questions to ask:

  • Are the conditions and criteria for successful planning in place at the current time? Can certain pitfalls be avoided?
  • Is this the appropriate time for your organization to initiate a planning process? Yes or no? If no, where do you go from here?

Step 2: Develop Your Team & Schedule

Who is going to be on your planning team? You need to choose someone to oversee the strategy implementation (Chief Strategy Officer or Strategy Director) and strategic management of your plan? You need some of the key individuals and decision makers for this team. It should be a small group of approximately 12-15 people.

OnStrategy is the leader in strategic planning and performance management. Our cloud-based software and hands-on services closes the gap between strategy and execution. Learn more about OnStrategy here .

Step 3: Collect Current Data

All strategic plans are developed using the following information:

  • The last strategic plan, even if it is not current
  • Mission statement, vision statement, values statement
  • Past or current Business plan
  • Financial records for the last few years
  • Marketing plan
  • Other information, such as last year’s SWOT, sales figures and projections

Step 4: Review Collected Data

Review the data collected in the last action with your strategy director and facilitator.

  • What trends do you see?
  • Are there areas of obvious weakness or strengths?
  • Have you been following a plan or have you just been going along with the market?

Conclusion: A successful strategic plan must be adaptable to changing conditions. Organizations benefit from having a flexible plan that can evolve, as assumptions and goals may need adjustments. Preparing to adapt or restart the planning process is crucial, so we recommend updating actions quarterly and refreshing your plan annually.

Strategic Planning Pyramid

Strategic Planning Phase 1: Determine Your Strategic Position

Want more? Dive into the “ Evaluate Your Strategic Position ” How-To Guide.

Action Grid

Step 1: identify strategic issues.

Strategic issues are critical unknowns driving you to embark on a robust strategic planning process. These issues can be problems, opportunities, market shifts, or anything else that keeps you awake at night and begging for a solution or decision. The best strategic plans address your strategic issues head-on.

  • How will we grow, stabilize, or retrench in order to sustain our organization into the future?
  • How will we diversify our revenue to reduce our dependence on a major customer?
  • What must we do to improve our cost structure and stay competitive?
  • How and where must we innovate our products and services?

Step 2: Conduct an Environmental Scan

Conducting an environmental scan will help you understand your operating environment. An environmental scan is called a PEST analysis, an acronym for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological trends. Sometimes, it is helpful to include Ecological and Legal trends as well. All of these trends play a part in determining the overall business environment.

Step 3: Conduct a Competitive Analysis

The reason to do a competitive analysis is to assess the opportunities and threats that may occur from those organizations competing for the same business you are. You need to understand what your competitors are or aren’t offering your potential customers. Here are a few other key ways a competitive analysis fits into strategic planning:

  • To help you assess whether your competitive advantage is really an advantage.
  • To understand what your competitors’ current and future strategies are so you can plan accordingly.
  • To provide information that will help you evaluate your strategic decisions against what your competitors may or may not be doing.

Learn more on how to conduct a competitive analysis here .

Step 4: Identify Opportunities and Threats

Opportunities are situations that exist but must be acted on if the business is to benefit from them.

What do you want to capitalize on?

  • What new needs of customers could you meet?
  • What are the economic trends that benefit you?
  • What are the emerging political and social opportunities?
  • What niches have your competitors missed?

Threats refer to external conditions or barriers preventing a company from reaching its objectives.

What do you need to mitigate? What external driving force do you need to anticipate?

Questions to Answer:

  • What are the negative economic trends?
  • What are the negative political and social trends?
  • Where are competitors about to bite you?
  • Where are you vulnerable?

Step 5: Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths refer to what your company does well.

What do you want to build on?

  • What do you do well (in sales, marketing, operations, management)?
  • What are your core competencies?
  • What differentiates you from your competitors?
  • Why do your customers buy from you?

Weaknesses refer to any limitations a company faces in developing or implementing a strategy.

What do you need to shore up?

  • Where do you lack resources?
  • What can you do better?
  • Where are you losing money?
  • In what areas do your competitors have an edge?

Step 6: Customer Segments

How to Segment Your Customers

Customer segmentation defines the different groups of people or organizations a company aims to reach or serve.

  • What needs or wants define your ideal customer?
  • What characteristics describe your typical customer?
  • Can you sort your customers into different profiles using their needs, wants and characteristics?
  • Can you reach this segment through clear communication channels?

Step 7: Develop Your SWOT

How to Perform a SWOT

A SWOT analysis is a quick way of examining your organization by looking at the internal strengths and weaknesses in relation to the external opportunities and threats. Creating a SWOT analysis lets you see all the important factors affecting your organization together in one place.

It’s easy to read, easy to communicate, and easy to create. Take the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats you developed earlier, review, prioritize, and combine like terms. The SWOT analysis helps you ask and answer the following questions: “How do you….”

  • Build on your strengths
  • Shore up your weaknesses
  • Capitalize on your opportunities
  • Manage your threats

How to Write a Mission Statment

Strategic Planning Process Phase 2: Developing Strategy

Want More? Deep Dive Into the “Developing Your Strategy” How-To Guide.

Step 1: Develop Your Mission Statement

The mission statement describes an organization’s purpose or reason for existing.

What is our purpose? Why do we exist? What do we do?

  • What are your organization’s goals? What does your organization intend to accomplish?
  • Why do you work here? Why is it special to work here?
  • What would happen if we were not here?

Outcome: A short, concise, concrete statement that clearly defines the scope of the organization.

Step 2: discover your values.

Your values statement clarifies what your organization stands for, believes in and the behaviors you expect to see as a result. Check our the post on great what are core values and examples of core values .

How will we behave?

  • What are the key non-negotiables that are critical to the company’s success?
  • What guiding principles are core to how we operate in this organization?
  • What behaviors do you expect to see?
  • If the circumstances changed and penalized us for holding this core value, would we still keep it?

Outcome: Short list of 5-7 core values.

Step 3: casting your vision statement.

How to Write Core Values

A Vision Statement defines your desired future state and directs where we are going as an organization.

Where are we going?

  • What will our organization look like 5–10 years from now?
  • What does success look like?
  • What are we aspiring to achieve?
  • What mountain are you climbing and why?

Outcome: A picture of the future.

Step 4: identify your competitive advantages.

How to Write a Vision Statment

A competitive advantage is a characteristic of an organization that allows it to meet its customer’s need(s) better than its competition can. It’s important to consider your competitive advantages when creating your competitive strategy.

What are we best at?

  • What are your unique strengths?
  • What are you best at in your market?
  • Do your customers still value what is being delivered? Ask them.
  • How do your value propositions stack up in the marketplace?

Outcome: A list of 2 or 3 items that honestly express the organization’s foundation for winning.

Step 5: crafting your organization-wide strategies.

What is a Competitive Advantage

Your competitive strategy is the general methods you intend to use to reach your vision. Regardless of the level, a strategy answers the question “how.”

How will we succeed?

  • Broad: market scope; a relatively wide market emphasis.
  • Narrow: limited to only one or few segments in the market
  • Does your competitive position focus on lowest total cost or product/service differentiation or both?

Outcome: Establish the general, umbrella methods you intend to use to reach your vision.

How to Develop a Growth Strategy

Phase 3: Strategic Plan Development

Want More? Deep Dive Into the “Build Your Plan” How-To Guide.

Strategic Planning Process Step 1: Use Your SWOT to Set Priorities

If your team wants to take the next step in the SWOT analysis, apply the TOWS Strategic Alternatives Matrix to your strategy map to help you think about the options you could pursue. To do this, match external opportunities and threats with your internal strengths and weaknesses, as illustrated in the matrix below:

TOWS Strategic Alternatives Matrix

Evaluate the options you’ve generated, and identify the ones that give the greatest benefit, and that best achieve the mission and vision of your organization. Add these to the other strategic options that you’re considering.

Step 2: Define Long-Term Strategic Objectives

Long-Term Strategic Objectives are long-term, broad, continuous statements that holistically address all areas of your organization. What must we focus on to achieve our vision? Check out examples of strategic objectives here. What are the “big rocks”?

Questions to ask:

  • What are our shareholders or stakeholders expectations for our financial performance or social outcomes?
  • To reach our outcomes, what value must we provide to our customers? What is our value proposition?
  • To provide value, what process must we excel at to deliver our products and services?
  • To drive our processes, what skills, capabilities and organizational structure must we have?

Outcome: Framework for your plan – no more than 6. You can use the balanced scorecard framework, OKRs, or whatever methodology works best for you. Just don’t exceed 6 long-term objectives.

Strategy Map

Step 3: Setting Organization-Wide Goals and Measures

How to Set SMART Goals

Once you have formulated your strategic objectives, you should translate them into goals and measures that can be communicated to your strategic planning team (team of business leaders and/or team members).

You want to set goals that convert the strategic objectives into specific performance targets. Effective strategic goals clearly state what, when, how, and who, and they are specifically measurable. They should address what you must do in the short term (think 1-3 years) to achieve your strategic objectives.

Organization-wide goals are annual statements that are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, responsible, and time-bound. These are outcome statements expressing a result to achieve the desired outcomes expected in the organization.

What is most important right now to reach our long-term objectives?

Outcome: clear outcomes for the current year..

Strategic Planning Outcomes Table

Step 4: Select KPIs

How to Develop KPIs for Strategic Planning

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the key measures that will have the most impact in moving your organization forward. We recommend you guide your organization with measures that matter. See examples of KPIs here.

How will we measure our success?

Outcome: 5-7 measures that help you keep the pulse on your performance. When selecting your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), ask, “What are the key performance measures we need to track to monitor if we are achieving our goals?” These KPIs include the key goals you want to measure that will have the most impact on moving your organization forward.

Step 5: Cascade Your Strategies to Operations

Cascade Your Strategy to Acton Plans

To move from big ideas to action, creating action items and to-dos for short-term goals is crucial. This involves translating strategy from the organizational level to individuals. Functional area managers and contributors play a role in developing short-term goals to support the organization.

Before taking action, decide whether to create plans directly derived from the strategic plan or sync existing operational, business, or account plans with organizational goals. Avoid the pitfall of managing multiple sets of goals and actions, as this shifts from strategic planning to annual planning.

Questions to Ask

  • How are we going to get there at a functional level?
  • Who must do what by when to accomplish and drive the organizational goals?
  • What strategic questions still remain and need to be solved?

Department/functional goals, actions, measures and targets for the next 12-24 months

Step 6: Cascading Goals to Departments and Team Members

Now in your Departments / Teams, you need to create goals to support the organization-wide goals. These goals should still be SMART and are generally (short-term) something to be done in the next 12-18 months. Finally, you should develop an action plan for each goal.

Keep the acronym SMART in mind again when setting action items, and make sure they include start and end dates and have someone assigned their responsibility. Since these action items support your previously established goals, it may be helpful to consider action items your immediate plans on the way to achieving your (short-term) goals. In other words, identify all the actions that need to occur in the next 90 days and continue this same process every 90 days until the goal is achieved.

Examples of Cascading Goals:

Build a Strategic Plan You Can Implement

Phase 4: Executing Strategy and Managing Performance

Want more? Dive Into the “Managing Performance” How-To Guide.

Step 1: Strategic Plan Implementation Schedule

Implementation is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.

How will we use the plan as a management tool?

  • Communication Schedule: How and when will you roll-out your plan to your staff? How frequently will you send out updates?
  • Process Leader: Who is your strategy director?
  • Structure: What are the dates for your strategy reviews (we recommend at least quarterly)?
  • System & Reports: What are you expecting each staff member to come prepared with to those strategy review sessions?

Outcome: Syncing your plan into the “rhythm of your business.”

Once your resources are in place, you can set your implementation schedule. Use the following steps as your base implementation plan:

  • Establish your performance management and reward system.
  • Set up monthly and quarterly strategy meetings with established reporting procedures.
  • Set up annual strategic review dates including new assessments and a large group meeting for an annual plan review.

Now you’re ready to start plan roll-out. Below are sample implementation schedules, which double for a full strategic management process timeline.

Strategic Planning Calendar

Step 2: Tracking Goals & Actions

Monthly strategy meetings don’t need to take a lot of time – 30 to 60 minutes should suffice. But it is important that key team members report on their progress toward the goals they are responsible for – including reporting on metrics in the scorecard they have been assigned.

By using the measurements already established, it’s easy to make course corrections if necessary. You should also commit to reviewing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) during these regular meetings. Need help comparing strategic planning software ? Check out our guide.

Effective Strategic Planning: Your Bi-Annual Checklist

Is it strategic?

Never lose sight of the fact that strategic plans are guidelines, not rules. Every six months or so, you should evaluate your strategy execution and strategic plan implementation by asking these key questions:

  • Will your goals be achieved within the time frame of the plan? If not, why?
  • Should the deadlines be modified? (Before you modify deadlines, figure out why you’re behind schedule.)
  • Are your goals and action items still realistic?
  • Should the organization’s focus be changed to put more emphasis on achieving your goals?
  • Should your goals be changed? (Be careful about making these changes – know why efforts aren’t achieving the goals before changing the goals.)
  • What can be gathered from an adaptation to improve future planning activities?

Why Track Your Goals?

  • Ownership: Having a stake and responsibility in the plan makes you feel part of it and leads you to drive your goals forward.
  • Culture: Successful plans tie tracking and updating goals into organizational culture.
  • Implementation: If you don’t review and update your strategic goals, they are just good intentions
  • Accountability: Accountability and high visibility help drive change. This means that each measure, objective, data source and initiative must have an owner.
  • Empowerment: Changing goals from In Progress to Complete just feels good!

Step 3: Review & Adapt

Guidelines for your strategy review.

The most important part of this meeting is a 70/30 review. 30% is about reviewing performance, and 70% should be spent on making decisions to move the company’s strategy forward in the next quarter.

The best strategic planners spend about 60-90 minutes in the sessions. Holding meetings helps focus your goals on accomplishing top priorities and accelerating the organization’s growth. Although the meeting structure is relatively simple, it does require a high degree of discipline.

Strategy Review Session Questions:

Strategic planning frequently asked questions, read our frequently asked questions about strategic planning to learn how to build a great strategic plan..

Strategic planning is when organizations define a bold vision and create a plan with objectives and goals to reach that future. A great strategic plan defines where your organization is going, how you’ll win, who must do what, and how you’ll review and adapt your strategy..

Your strategic plan needs to include an assessment of your current state, a SWOT analysis, mission, vision, values, competitive advantages, growth strategy, growth enablers, a 3-year roadmap, and annual plan with strategic goals, OKRs, and KPIs.

A strategic planning process should take no longer than 90 days to complete from start to finish! Any longer could fatigue your organization and team.

There are four overarching phases to the strategic planning process that include: determining position, developing your strategy, building your plan, and managing performance. Each phase plays a unique but distinctly crucial role in the strategic planning process.

Prior to starting your strategic plan, you must go through this pre-planning process to determine your organization’s readiness by following these steps:

Ask yourself these questions: Are the conditions and criteria for successful planning in place now? Can we foresee any pitfalls that we can avoid? Is there an appropriate time for our organization to initiate this process?

Develop your team and schedule. Who will oversee the implementation as Chief Strategy Officer or Director? Do we have at least 12-15 other key individuals on our team?

Research and Collect Current Data. Find the following resources that your organization may have used in the past to assist you with your new plan: last strategic plan, mission, vision, and values statement, business plan, financial records, marketing plan, SWOT, sales figures, or projections.

Finally, review the data with your strategy director and facilitator and ask these questions: What trends do we see? Any obvious strengths or weaknesses? Have we been following a plan or just going along with the market?

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what does a good strategic plan look like

Stratechi.com

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STRATEGIC PLANNING

Strategic planning solves for 3 levels of strategy.

Strategic planning typically solves for three levels of strategy:

1. Business Model Strategy 2. Organizational & Financial Strategy 3. Functional Strategy

Strategic Planning Levels - Business, Org, Financial

For larger companies with multiple business units there is a 4th higher level of strategy, Corporate Strategy, which is about the allocation of capital and resources across business units/models, and the harvesting of synergies through centralization of functions, shared sales, and marketing spend, M&A, customer synergies, etc.

Understanding which level of strategy you are solving for is beneficial when thinking through a strategic planning process. We'll go more in-depth in strategic planning for each level, but before that, let's go over some strategic planning fundamentals.

WHAT IS STRATEGIC PLANNING?

Strategy is simply the goals you choose and the actions (plans) you take to achieve those goals. Strategic Planning is the process by which you create goals and actions over a defined period.

A strategic planning process can take many forms. It can be in the form of a:

  • Few hours with the team in a conference room
  • Leadership offsite
  • CEO thinking through the next year while backpacking for the weekend
  • Very involved and coordinated multi-month process
  • Strategy consulting project

Most strong CEOs and leaders spend a large portion of their mental capacity on strategic planning. They are constantly reframing their strategic context, thinking of new goals, initiatives, ways of organizing, etc.

At any level, formal strategic planning typically follows four high-level steps:

  • Generate insights
  • Develop opportunities

All of the strategy guides on Stratechi.com follow this 4-step process.

Strategic Planning Steps and Process

WHEN SHOULD WE DO STRATEGIC PLANNING?

Given the various levels of strategy (corporate, business model, org & financial, and functional) to solve for, your company's strategic planning process should be staggered with some overlap and feedback loops, since they should influence each other.

Strategic Planning Calendar Timing

If your company has multiple business units, you typically need a planning cadence for your corporate strategy, which should take a few months and start sometime in Q2. Considering how deep you need to go into your business model strategy, you should kick off that planning process in Q2 or Q3. It typically takes a few months to finalize the headcount and budgets from org and financial strategic planning, so you should begin that process in Q3. Functional strategies should start in Q4; once business model, org & financial strategies are finished or almost finished.

If you are looking for a business coach to collaborate on your strategic planning, set up some on-demand one-on-one time with Joe Newsum , the creator of this content and a McKinsey alum

CORPORATE STRATEGIC PLANNING

Corporate strategic planning occurs in larger companies with multiple business units. The focus is two-fold. First, corporate strategic planning solves for the company's overall financial model/projections and the optimal allocation of capital and costs across the business models/units. Second, corporate strategic planning solves for any cross-business unit initiatives, such as shared services (finance, sales, HR, etc.) and major IT initiatives, which cascade down into the business unit strategies.

BUSINESS MODEL STRATEGIC PLANNING

Most companies struggle with business model strategic planning. They may not have a clear business model. They may revisit business model strategy too often, try to solve for too much, or at a level of specificity that is too low.

If your company doesn't have a well-documented and robust business model strategy, then your leadership team needs to take a step back and go through a systematic business model strategic planning process. The litmus test on this is, can you answer all of the questions below in our one-page business strategy template? Furthermore, do most managers and above understand the business model? If you need to develop a business model strategy I encourage you to read developing a strategy or set up some time with me to start figuring it out.

Business Model Template

Business model strategy is defined at a high-level:

1. The Mission    2. Targets   3.  Customer Value  Proposition   4. Go-to-Market   5. The Organization

It serves as a true north for team members to understand the long-term strategy of the company and align their functional strategies too.

ORGANIZATIONAL & FINANCIAL STRATEGIC PLANNING

Strong companies typically rigorously revisit their business model strategy every 3-5 years. They may need to go deeper in a few areas every year or so, such as targeting a new market, customer, or geography and understanding the implications to the value proposition , go-to-market, and organization. Or, maybe the go-to-market strategy needs to evolve from a distribution focus to a direct model. Regardless, strong businesses have strong business model strategies that they stick with over time.

For struggling companies, business model strategic planning is critical. They need to quickly figure out what is working, and not working, where the market is going, how the targets are evolving, the strengths and weaknesses of the value proposition and go-to-market, and the organizational gaps. We recommend starting with the Leadership Strategy Survey and Strategy Workshop to deeply understand the leadership team's collective view on the company's strategy, while also aligning the team on what strategy is, and generating compelling potential strategies.

For all companies, it is prudent to revisit business model strategy, at some level, annually or every few years, to test major assumptions and think through competitive and market dynamics.  Lighter versions of business model strategic planning typically involve a series of leadership meetings or off-sites to systematically go through and discuss all of the major elements in the business model.  In between sessions, various analyses are done to prove or disprove important hypotheses about business model elements and dynamics.

Every 3-5 years, companies should embark on a rigorous business model strategic planning process to ensure their business model is competitive over the next 5-10 years. This process necessitates extensive project planning and management. We typically recommend bringing in a Strategy Coach to help with the planning, process, and workshops, while mentoring and coaching the internal teams driving the process.

Every year, every company does some flavor of organizational and financial strategic planning. Often, they term it "annual budgeting." Though, many companies fall short of infusing real strategic rigor into their budgeting, instead applying broad-based increases or decreases across the board to forecasts, headcount, and budgets. The process should involve a significant amount of analytical retrospection on the KPI performance and the ROI of spend and headcount.

Organizational and financial strategic planning solves for the financial forecast, functional headcount and budgets, and company-wide initiatives. Primarily driven by the finance and leadership team, the planning cycle typically begins in late Q2 into Q3 and is finalized a month or two before year-end. Of course, as the year plays out, there are quarterly or monthly tweaks to plan.

With the right KPIs , systems, and governance , the planning is typically straightforward with a series of meetings to systematically go through a structured process. We often advise bringing in a Strategy Coach to assess and improve the existing process, KPIs, systems and governance. In many cases, the Strategy Coach provides light support through the strategic planning process to push the thinking, analytics , rigor, and governance.

Often overlooked is the importance of properly communicating the business model strategy and the org & financial plan to the next few levels of management. This step is often more work than creating the plans, but if done correctly, ensures the functional strategies are aligned and impactful.

FUNCTIONAL STRATEGIC PLANNING

While strong leaders are always thinking and implementing new strategies, a systematic functional strategic planning process is important to get the broader team involved and aligned in creating winning strategies. The functions of a company are below; organized into value chain and support functions. In the end, all of these functions fuel the collective processes that produce and deliver the value proposition and go-to-market.

Value Chain Image - Support Functions

One of the most useful things to do for an organization is to drive consistency in functional strategic planning processes, governance, and outputs such as their strategic plans and KPIs. Consistency creates many benefits. It allows different leaders and team members to quickly understand a function's strategy allowing more time for collaborative problem solving . It ensures plans include all the major and necessary elements of a strategy and that they are at the right level of specificity. And, execution becomes simpler since everyone is talking the same language.

Stratechi.com goes in-depth into most of the functional strategies. If you are looking for strategic planning templates click here , otherwise visit:

Product Strategy Service Strategy Pricing Strategy Distribution Strategy Sales Strategy Marketing Strategy HR Strategy Partner Strategy

The key to creating strong functional strategies is to get managers and the next generation of leaders involved in the process. It not only produces great ideas, but also develops team members, ensures alignment, and drives a higher level of commitment and execution. I support many teams with a Strategy Coaching to help guide and mentor teams through a strategic planning process and project.

We hope this was helpful and if you need any support with your strategic planning, please set up some time with Joe Newsum .

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10 Elements of a Great Strategy

John S. Hamalian

Part 2 of a series on Strategy Development

In the first part of our series on Strategy (" The Non-Strategy: how some ‘strategies’ are not strategies at all ") John S. Hamalian introduced several categories to explain the characteristics of poorly developed and executed strategies. This leads to the question ‘what does a good strategy look like?’ In this second part, we examine the various design elements that can be considered when constructing an organizational strategy , whether in the private, public or non-profit sectors.

There are few more important things to any organization than the presence of a clear, intelligent and well-structured strategic plan; it aligns the entire team on the long-term goals, provides purpose and clarity to the necessary outcomes to achieve them and engages employees in execution of the actions. From a Process Excellence perspective , a solid plan with concise objectives and actions can help to ensure that improvement initiatives are properly aligned to the goals, adding value in key priority areas and contributing to the essential long-term outcomes . Lack of a proper strategy may potentially result in ad hoc improvements that are not meeting the critical needs of the overall organization.

So in terms of strategic planning, what does good look like? The following are 10 elements that represent sound principles to be taken into consideration when developing a strategic plan:

Element #1: Critical Reflection

Sometimes before you go forward, you have to look back. In Japanese this is known as ‘hansei’ or the ability to deeply and critically reflect, typically on several fronts: ‘where have you been?’, ‘where are you now?’, and 'where are you heading’? This includes an honest assessment of problem areas and changes taking place that need to be addressed, both internally and externally. If there was failure, success can come as long as learning takes place. Often times, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis or similar tool can be helpful, but only if the output is applied in the actual formulation of the strategy and not used standalone.

Element #2: The Power of a Simple Message

A clear vision can provide succinct clarity to where an organization intends to go, and it does not have to be fancy. I know a retired Vice President who had a very consistent and simple mantra that he repeated on almost a daily basis: ‘ Low Cost ’. This made the priority very clear and concise. Georges St-Pierre, Welterweight Champion of the UFC, often affixes a handwritten note to his dressing room wall, such as ‘On December 11 th in Montreal, I will destroy Josh Koscheck and remain world champion’, providing himself with a simple, measurable and actionable message.

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." - Peter Drucker To learn more about 'the father of modern amangement', click here

Element #3: Marathon Thinking

This may seem obvious, but the person who wants to win a marathon needs to possess a fine balance of long-term strategy and shorter-term tactics to overcome the challenge. Some people call this walking with one leg and running with the other. In any case, long-term thinking needs to be an essential ingredient of any solid strategy. Without a long horizon, an organization is doomed to an endless cycle of short-term gyrations. There are several points to mention here:

  • ‘Balance the Forest and the Trees’ - A good strategy will both zoom out to the big picture and zoom in to the specifics needed to achieve it. A strategy skewed too far to either side will be unbalanced.
  • ‘Pace Yourself’ – the smart marathoner will sometimes slow down even when he or she has abundant energy. Not only do they not take their eye or mind off the end goal, but they are also very aware of all the evenly spaced, smaller milestones that are needed to reach so they can get to the end. This notion is epitomized in the ’ 20 Mile March ’ concept by leadership guru Jim Collins, where he makes the argument that the most exceptional companies have an extraordinary amount of self-control, even in the good times.

Element #4: Sense of Reality

A strategy is not worth much if it does not accurately reflect the reality of the situation – the good, the bad and the ugly. It is also not going to help much if the strategy stretches the organization well beyond its means or outlines completely unrealistic and unattainable objectives. It is OK to develop stretch targets but they should still be realistic. There is an important concept related to this element:

  • ‘Avoid Fluff’ – Vague and ‘wishy-washy’ language should always be avoided. The strategy is not a marketing campaign - it is a structured plan to move the organization forward. Language and actions identified should be crisp, concise, clear, direct and specific.

Element #5: Less is More

This has been said many times, but a strategic plan should focus on the Critical Few . A plan should outline what the organization should not do just as much as it articulates what it should do. There are many cases where successful organizations have seen improved results from paring down their strategic goals. When Jack Gerard, CEO of American Petroleum Institute, first took the job he immediately cut their number of priorities from two dozen down to just six, enabling them to focus their limited time and resources on the items that would bring them the most value. ‘Less is More’ contains a very important point that needs to be called out separately:

  • ‘Focus on the Core’ - In the early 00’s, McDonalds was floundering during a period of wild expansion, opening more than three restaurants a day in 2001. The new executive leadership at the time put together a back-to-basics strategy to focus on increasing sales at existing stores rather than opening new ones, and their results since then have been extraordinary.

Element #6: Balanced Stakeholder Listening

A great strategy reflects the voices of all the key stakeholders of an organization, in particular the Employees and the Customers , who often get forgotten. There is a famous quote that says ‘The greatest tool you have is to listen’, yet many strategies are developed in a relative vacuum. To properly consider all the various voices, both internal and external, a great deal of listening, balancing and prioritizing is required. Sometimes it not clear who all the key stakeholders are, and in this case a Stakeholder Prioritization tool can be used. For this element, there are a few important concepts to mention here:

  • ‘ Coherent Alignment’ – The strategy should align and bind the whole organization together. While each function or department will have to develop their own specific plans, these should receive inspiration, purpose and direction from the main strategy. There is no sense in having a plan that focuses on Product Development but completely misses the required Go-To-Market approach, for example. It must all tie together.
  • ‘ Institutionalized Social Responsibility’ – Whether you call it CSR, Sustainability or Social Development , the point here is that this should be part and parcel of the strategy, not ‘that other thing’ that is done on an ad hoc basis or whenever an organization feels guilty or needs PR points. One of the key reasons that many organizations have not made the transition from philanthropy to a true, well-rounded Social Responsibility approach is because they have not incorporated the subject into their overall strategic plan. The Body Shop and Banyan Tree are good examples of CSR being institutionalized into their overarching business approach. Ideally, the strategy will encompass all three pillars of the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit.

Element #7: Actionable Content

This is the critical link to Process Excellence . The strategic plan should be detailed enough to either specifically outline actions required to meet the goals, or be able to lead directly to such actions. The action plans identified will likely be high-level and not necessarily answer the ‘hows’ but certainly describe the ‘whats’ that are needed to move the organization ahead. These actions often turn into projects or key initiatives that can often times utilize Lean and/or Six Sigma methodologies to be properly executed. Without actionable content, a strategy will be too stratospheric to be of much use.

Element #8: Energetic Deployment

A great strategy does not just remain stuck in a PowerPoint slide, but gets effectively and passionately deployed to every level of the organization. If there is a function or team that is disengaged from the planning activity, or not involved in its execution, then the strategy is a failure. Every single part of the organization should be informed of and engaged in the strategic direction, and formulate their own specific plans in line with the greater goals. One critical aspect is the following concept:

  • ‘Avoid the Ivory Tower Syndrome’ – a good friend of mine reminded me of the disastrous but not uncommon phenomenon of organizations keeping their strategic planning activity entirely within their executive ranks, ignoring the power of the their own people to help shape, validate and implement the initiatives that are required for them to reach the next level of achievement. The best plans are made with broad participation, contain feedback loops to incorporate the inputs of employees and other key stakeholders and are communicated thoroughly and frequently to all parts of the organization.

Element #9: Fanatic Follow-through

Strategies are intended to be used , not mounted on a gilded frame to be admired from time to time. Some of the best plans I have ever seen were written on simple paper and were dirty and wrinkled from their constant use. This is great proof of a well-utilized plan. Here are the key points related to the subject of Follow-Through:

  • ‘Built-in Flexibility’ – Some strategies are not followed-through on because they were designed to be too rigid and/or complex. A clear sign of this is an overly automated planning system where it becomes extremely painful to make any adjustments to the plan. Contrary to some popular beliefs, plans should be written in soft clay rather than etched in hard stone. It is perfectly OK to adjust the strategy during the year based on changes in organizational dynamics or the external environment, as long as the revisions are in support of the overall vision and purpose and are agreed to by the relevant team.
  • ‘Strong Governance & Discipline’ – Who will review the strategy, how frequently and by which means? These are basic questions to ask when designing a proper governance process. Here are two of the common mistakes made in this regard. One is to lump together Strategic Reviews with Operational Reviews. Organizations must recognize there are two dynamics going on in parallel: ‘running the organization’ and ‘improving the organization’. They are related but each needs its own time slot or the operational issues could easily smother the strategic reviews. The other is a failure to assign an Owner to the governance process. While it is undoubtedly the top leader’s role to ultimately own the strategy, somebody needs to organize the reviews, take charge of the planning document, and help to ensure follow-up items are managed properly.

Element #10: Living & Breathing the Strategy

Solid follow-through is more than governance reviews and scorecard updates. It needs the leadership to be absolutely committed to and thoroughly passionate about the strategy. Leaders should be talking the ‘language’ of the strategy on a daily basis. When even the employees are talking about it frequently, this is when the plan has become institutionalized and permeates every level of the organization. The strategy should be thoroughly baked into the product/service plan, the communications plan, the marketing plan, the people plan, the process improvement plan, the budget plan and the operational plan.

This list of Elements of a Great Strategy is by no means exhaustive, but the intention was to provide a basic outline of the key ingredients needed to formulate an effective and useful strategic plan for any kind of organization. As was mentioned, a successful strategy is not only one that is intelligently designed and well-constructed, but also inclusive of all stakeholders, effectively deployed and governed with a nearly fanatical level of discipline and passion.

Of course, no strategy is worthwhile without execution and results – as Donald Trump said, ‘in the end, you’re measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish’. The strategic plan is intended to be an enabler for predictably achieving these accomplishments.

I am sure there were elements that I missed or could have emphasized more. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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Artificial intelligence in strategy

Can machines automate strategy development? The short answer is no. However, there are numerous aspects of strategists’ work where AI and advanced analytics tools can already bring enormous value. Yuval Atsmon is a senior partner who leads the new McKinsey Center for Strategy Innovation, which studies ways new technologies can augment the timeless principles of strategy. In this episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast, he explains how artificial intelligence is already transforming strategy and what’s on the horizon. This is an edited transcript of the discussion. For more conversations on the strategy issues that matter, follow the series on your preferred podcast platform .

Joanna Pachner: What does artificial intelligence mean in the context of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: When people talk about artificial intelligence, they include everything to do with analytics, automation, and data analysis. Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of artificial intelligence research in the 1960s, talked about AI as a “suitcase word”—a term into which you can stuff whatever you want—and that still seems to be the case. We are comfortable with that because we think companies should use all the capabilities of more traditional analysis while increasing automation in strategy that can free up management or analyst time and, gradually, introducing tools that can augment human thinking.

Joanna Pachner: AI has been embraced by many business functions, but strategy seems to be largely immune to its charms. Why do you think that is?

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Yuval Atsmon: You’re right about the limited adoption. Only 7 percent of respondents to our survey about the use of AI say they use it in strategy or even financial planning, whereas in areas like marketing, supply chain, and service operations, it’s 25 or 30 percent. One reason adoption is lagging is that strategy is one of the most integrative conceptual practices. When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI capabilities that would decide, in place of the business leader, what the right strategy is. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy that could significantly improve outcomes.

I like to use the analogy to virtual assistants. Many of us use Alexa or Siri but very few people use these tools to do more than dictate a text message or shut off the lights. We don’t feel comfortable with the technology’s ability to understand the context in more sophisticated applications. AI in strategy is similar: it’s hard for AI to know everything an executive knows, but it can help executives with certain tasks.

When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI deciding the right strategy. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of tasks can AI help strategists execute today?

Yuval Atsmon: We talk about six stages of AI development. The earliest is simple analytics, which we refer to as descriptive intelligence. Companies use dashboards for competitive analysis or to study performance in different parts of the business that are automatically updated. Some have interactive capabilities for refinement and testing.

The second level is diagnostic intelligence, which is the ability to look backward at the business and understand root causes and drivers of performance. The level after that is predictive intelligence: being able to anticipate certain scenarios or options and the value of things in the future based on momentum from the past as well as signals picked in the market. Both diagnostics and prediction are areas that AI can greatly improve today. The tools can augment executives’ analysis and become areas where you develop capabilities. For example, on diagnostic intelligence, you can organize your portfolio into segments to understand granularly where performance is coming from and do it in a much more continuous way than analysts could. You can try 20 different ways in an hour versus deploying one hundred analysts to tackle the problem.

Predictive AI is both more difficult and more risky. Executives shouldn’t fully rely on predictive AI, but it provides another systematic viewpoint in the room. Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, a key consideration is to use AI transparently in the sense of understanding why it is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it is making from which information. You can then assess if you trust the prediction or not. You can even use AI to track the evolution of the assumptions for that prediction.

Those are the levels available today. The next three levels will take time to develop. There are some early examples of AI advising actions for executives’ consideration that would be value-creating based on the analysis. From there, you go to delegating certain decision authority to AI, with constraints and supervision. Eventually, there is the point where fully autonomous AI analyzes and decides with no human interaction.

Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, you need to understand why AI is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it’s making from which information.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of businesses or industries could gain the greatest benefits from embracing AI at its current level of sophistication?

Yuval Atsmon: Every business probably has some opportunity to use AI more than it does today. The first thing to look at is the availability of data. Do you have performance data that can be organized in a systematic way? Companies that have deep data on their portfolios down to business line, SKU, inventory, and raw ingredients have the biggest opportunities to use machines to gain granular insights that humans could not.

Companies whose strategies rely on a few big decisions with limited data would get less from AI. Likewise, those facing a lot of volatility and vulnerability to external events would benefit less than companies with controlled and systematic portfolios, although they could deploy AI to better predict those external events and identify what they can and cannot control.

Third, the velocity of decisions matters. Most companies develop strategies every three to five years, which then become annual budgets. If you think about strategy in that way, the role of AI is relatively limited other than potentially accelerating analyses that are inputs into the strategy. However, some companies regularly revisit big decisions they made based on assumptions about the world that may have since changed, affecting the projected ROI of initiatives. Such shifts would affect how you deploy talent and executive time, how you spend money and focus sales efforts, and AI can be valuable in guiding that. The value of AI is even bigger when you can make decisions close to the time of deploying resources, because AI can signal that your previous assumptions have changed from when you made your plan.

Joanna Pachner: Can you provide any examples of companies employing AI to address specific strategic challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: Some of the most innovative users of AI, not coincidentally, are AI- and digital-native companies. Some of these companies have seen massive benefits from AI and have increased its usage in other areas of the business. One mobility player adjusts its financial planning based on pricing patterns it observes in the market. Its business has relatively high flexibility to demand but less so to supply, so the company uses AI to continuously signal back when pricing dynamics are trending in a way that would affect profitability or where demand is rising. This allows the company to quickly react to create more capacity because its profitability is highly sensitive to keeping demand and supply in equilibrium.

Joanna Pachner: Given how quickly things change today, doesn’t AI seem to be more a tactical than a strategic tool, providing time-sensitive input on isolated elements of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: It’s interesting that you make the distinction between strategic and tactical. Of course, every decision can be broken down into smaller ones, and where AI can be affordably used in strategy today is for building blocks of the strategy. It might feel tactical, but it can make a massive difference. One of the world’s leading investment firms, for example, has started to use AI to scan for certain patterns rather than scanning individual companies directly. AI looks for consumer mobile usage that suggests a company’s technology is catching on quickly, giving the firm an opportunity to invest in that company before others do. That created a significant strategic edge for them, even though the tool itself may be relatively tactical.

Joanna Pachner: McKinsey has written a lot about cognitive biases  and social dynamics that can skew decision making. Can AI help with these challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: When we talk to executives about using AI in strategy development, the first reaction we get is, “Those are really big decisions; what if AI gets them wrong?” The first answer is that humans also get them wrong—a lot. [Amos] Tversky, [Daniel] Kahneman, and others have proven that some of those errors are systemic, observable, and predictable. The first thing AI can do is spot situations likely to give rise to biases. For example, imagine that AI is listening in on a strategy session where the CEO proposes something and everyone says “Aye” without debate and discussion. AI could inform the room, “We might have a sunflower bias here,” which could trigger more conversation and remind the CEO that it’s in their own interest to encourage some devil’s advocacy.

We also often see confirmation bias, where people focus their analysis on proving the wisdom of what they already want to do, as opposed to looking for a fact-based reality. Just having AI perform a default analysis that doesn’t aim to satisfy the boss is useful, and the team can then try to understand why that is different than the management hypothesis, triggering a much richer debate.

In terms of social dynamics, agency problems can create conflicts of interest. Every business unit [BU] leader thinks that their BU should get the most resources and will deliver the most value, or at least they feel they should advocate for their business. AI provides a neutral way based on systematic data to manage those debates. It’s also useful for executives with decision authority, since we all know that short-term pressures and the need to make the quarterly and annual numbers lead people to make different decisions on the 31st of December than they do on January 1st or October 1st. Like the story of Ulysses and the sirens, you can use AI to remind you that you wanted something different three months earlier. The CEO still decides; AI can just provide that extra nudge.

Joanna Pachner: It’s like you have Spock next to you, who is dispassionate and purely analytical.

Yuval Atsmon: That is not a bad analogy—for Star Trek fans anyway.

Joanna Pachner: Do you have a favorite application of AI in strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: I have worked a lot on resource allocation, and one of the challenges, which we call the hockey stick phenomenon, is that executives are always overly optimistic about what will happen. They know that resource allocation will inevitably be defined by what you believe about the future, not necessarily by past performance. AI can provide an objective prediction of performance starting from a default momentum case: based on everything that happened in the past and some indicators about the future, what is the forecast of performance if we do nothing? This is before we say, “But I will hire these people and develop this new product and improve my marketing”— things that every executive thinks will help them overdeliver relative to the past. The neutral momentum case, which AI can calculate in a cold, Spock-like manner, can change the dynamics of the resource allocation discussion. It’s a form of predictive intelligence accessible today and while it’s not meant to be definitive, it provides a basis for better decisions.

Joanna Pachner: Do you see access to technology talent as one of the obstacles to the adoption of AI in strategy, especially at large companies?

Yuval Atsmon: I would make a distinction. If you mean machine-learning and data science talent or software engineers who build the digital tools, they are definitely not easy to get. However, companies can increasingly use platforms that provide access to AI tools and require less from individual companies. Also, this domain of strategy is exciting—it’s cutting-edge, so it’s probably easier to get technology talent for that than it might be for manufacturing work.

The bigger challenge, ironically, is finding strategists or people with business expertise to contribute to the effort. You will not solve strategy problems with AI without the involvement of people who understand the customer experience and what you are trying to achieve. Those who know best, like senior executives, don’t have time to be product managers for the AI team. An even bigger constraint is that, in some cases, you are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important. There could be plenty of opportunities for incorpo­rating AI into existing jobs, but it’s something companies need to reflect on. The best approach may be to create a digital factory where a different team tests and builds AI applications, with oversight from senior stakeholders.

The big challenge is finding strategists to contribute to the AI effort. You are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important.

Joanna Pachner: Do you think this worry about job security and the potential that AI will automate strategy is realistic?

Yuval Atsmon: The question of whether AI will replace human judgment and put humanity out of its job is a big one that I would leave for other experts.

The pertinent question is shorter-term automation. Because of its complexity, strategy would be one of the later domains to be affected by automation, but we are seeing it in many other domains. However, the trend for more than two hundred years has been that automation creates new jobs, although ones requiring different skills. That doesn’t take away the fear some people have of a machine exposing their mistakes or doing their job better than they do it.

Joanna Pachner: We recently published an article about strategic courage in an age of volatility  that talked about three types of edge business leaders need to develop. One of them is an edge in insights. Do you think AI has a role to play in furnishing a proprietary insight edge?

Yuval Atsmon: One of the challenges most strategists face is the overwhelming complexity of the world we operate in—the number of unknowns, the information overload. At one level, it may seem that AI will provide another layer of complexity. In reality, it can be a sharp knife that cuts through some of the clutter. The question to ask is, Can AI simplify my life by giving me sharper, more timely insights more easily?

Joanna Pachner: You have been working in strategy for a long time. What sparked your interest in exploring this intersection of strategy and new technology?

Yuval Atsmon: I have always been intrigued by things at the boundaries of what seems possible. Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s second law is that to discover the limits of the possible, you have to venture a little past them into the impossible, and I find that particularly alluring in this arena.

AI in strategy is in very nascent stages but could be very consequential for companies and for the profession. For a top executive, strategic decisions are the biggest way to influence the business, other than maybe building the top team, and it is amazing how little technology is leveraged in that process today. It’s conceivable that competitive advantage will increasingly rest in having executives who know how to apply AI well. In some domains, like investment, that is already happening, and the difference in returns can be staggering. I find helping companies be part of that evolution very exciting.

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Good Parenting: What does it look like?

T here is a huge amount of pressure on parents today – from feeding babies the “best organic purees” to making sure older children get all the developmental opportunities they could possibly need, while of course documenting the whole thing on Instagram .

There is also no shortage of advice about how to go about this. Just as there is no shortage of debate about the “ best way ” to parent your child.

But what if parents just focused on being a “good enough parent” instead? You do not have to be perfect in order to do a good job of raising a child. In fact, it may be better if you are not.

What is ‘good enough parenting’?

We know parenting matters in a child’s life. Research tell us parents influence their child’s development, resilience and expectations of themselves and others. This in turn determines their behaviour and wellbeing.

“Good enough parenting” theory was developed by UK paediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott in the 1950s.

He found children actually benefit from mothers who “fail” them in some ways.

This does not mean parents can neglect or minimise their role in making sure children are safe where they live, learn and play. Children also need to have their emotional needs met . They need to know they are loved and feel a sense of belonging.

But good enough parenting recognises parental failure is an inevitable part of life. Experiencing sadness, tears and anger are part of childhood and parents should allow children to gradually tolerate some frustration. The good enough parent realises it is not possible to be available and immediately responsive all of the time.

What does it involve?

Winnicott noted when babies are very little, their needs are attended to almost immediately. If a baby cries, the parent will feed or change them.

But as the child grows, they do not necessarily have to have their needs met immediately. Parents can allow them to develop a tolerance for some uncertainty – or things not going the way they wanted – while still caring and responding to their basic needs.

This is important because life does not always go as we expect it to and children need to develop resilience.

What does good enough parenting look like everyday?

As a starting point, ask yourself “what does my child need from me?”

Good enough parenting focuses on tuning in to and responding to your child’s emotions and needs. These needs will change over time. For example, a good enough parent realises they need to respond quickly to their baby’s hunger cry. Whereas a teenager is learning to navigate life. A good enough parent will at times have to allow their child to face consequences of their choices.

At the same time, don’t try to “stop” emotions. Good enough parenting is about being there for your child if they are sad or angry, but not preventing them from being sad or angry in the first place. It can be helpful to think about suffering as not caused from emotional pain but from avoidance of uncomfortable emotions .

And don’t set unrealistic standards for your child. For example, if it’s dinner time and they are tired and hungry, don’t expect them to tidy their room.

Set boundaries

Being a good enough parent also means accepting your child for who they are. Children need unconditional love from a parental figure to develop a healthy sense of self . So, if you have a child who is more interested in soccer than maths (or vice versa) don’t try to change them.

At the same time, do set boundaries – such as “please don’t interrupt me when I’m talking” or “I’d like you to knock before you come into my room” – and try to be consistent about enforcing them. Not only does this help define your relationships (as a parent and child, not two friends), it also teaches your child about healthy boundaries in any relationship.

ALSO READ: SA cycling champ’s dad shares tips on parenting an aspiring sports star

Things won’t always go to plan

As we know, things won’t always go as we want or expect. So if you feel angry with your child, model how to emotionally regulate and try to talk to them as calmly as you can. If you make a mistake – such as raising your voice or losing your temper – apologise.

But also find ways to give yourself a break. This means you will have the energy and capacity to parent tomorrow and into the future.

And ask for help when you need it. This could be from your partner, family or professionals, such as a GP, family counsellor or psychologist. Remember, this is about being good enough, not superhuman.

Cher McGillivray , Assistant Professor Psychology Department, Bond University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

The post Good Parenting: What does it look like? appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News .

Parents will make mistakes – and this is OK. Ketut Subiyanto/ Pexels

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How Biden Adopted Trump’s Trade War With China

The president has proposed new barriers to electric vehicles, steel and other goods..

This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this transcript and email [email protected] with any questions.

From “The New York Times,” I’m Sabrina Tavernise, and this is “The Daily.”

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Donald Trump upended decades of American policy when he started a trade war with China. Many thought that President Biden would reverse those policies. Instead, he’s stepping them up. Today, my colleague, Jim Tankersley, explains.

It’s Monday, May 13.

Jim, it’s very nice to have you in the studio.

It’s so great to be here, Sabrina. Thank you so much.

So we are going to talk today about something I find very interesting and I know you’ve been following. We’re in the middle of a presidential campaign. You are an economics reporter looking at these two candidates, and you’ve been trying to understand how Trump and Biden are thinking about our number one economic rival, and that is China.

As we know, Trump has been very loud and very clear about his views on China. What about Biden?

Well, no one is going to accuse President Biden of being as loud as former President Trump. But I think he’s actually been fairly clear in a way that might surprise a lot of people about how he sees economic competition with China.

We’re going after China in the wrong way. China is stealing intellectual property. China is conditioning —

And Biden has, kind of surprisingly, sounded a lot, in his own Joe Biden way, like Trump.

They’re not competing. They’re cheating. They’re cheating. And we’ve seen the damage here in America.

He has been very clear that he thinks China is cheating in trade.

The bottom line is I want fair competition with China, not conflict. And we’re in a stronger position to win the economic competition of the 21st century against China or anyone else because we’re investing in America and American workers again. Finally.

And maybe the most surprising thing from a policy perspective is just how much Biden has built on top of the anti-China moves that Trump made and really is the verge of his own sort of trade war with China.

Interesting. So remind us, Jim, what did Trump do when he actually came into office? We, of course, remember Trump really talking about China and banging that drum hard during the campaign, but remind us what he actually did when he came into office.

Yeah, it’s really instructive to start with the campaign, because Trump is talking about China in some very specific ways.

We have a $500 billion deficit, trade deficit, with China. We’re going to turn it around. And we have the cards. Don’t forget —

They’re ripping us off. They’re stealing our jobs.

They’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing. So we’re losing our good jobs, so many.

The economic context here is the United States has lost a couple of million jobs in what was called the China shock of the early 2000s. And Trump is tapping into that.

But when the Chinese come in, and they want to make great trade deals — and they make the best trade deals, and not anymore. When I’m there, we turn it around, folks. We turn it around. We have —

And what he’s promising as president is that he’s going to bring those jobs back.

I’ll be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I’ll take them back from China, from Japan.

And not just any jobs, good-paying manufacturing jobs, all of it — clothes, shoes, steel, all of these jobs that have been lost that American workers, particularly in the industrial Midwest, used to do. Trump’s going to bring them back with policy meant to rebalance the trade relationship with China to get a better deal with China.

So he’s saying China is eating our lunch and has been for decades. That’s the reason why factory workers in rural North Carolina don’t have work. It’s those guys. And I’m going to change that.

Right. And he likes to say it’s because our leaders didn’t cut the right deal with them, so I’m going to make a better deal. And to get a better deal, you need leverage. So a year into his presidency, he starts taking steps to amass leverage with China.

And so what does that look like?

Just an hour ago, surrounded by a hand-picked group of steelworkers, President Trump revealed he was not bluffing.

It starts with tariffs. Tariffs are taxes that the government imposes on imports.

Two key global imports into America now face a major new barrier.

Today, I’m defending America’s national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum.

And in this case, it’s imports from a lot of different countries, but particularly China.

Let’s take it straight to the White House. The president of the United States announcing new trade tariffs against China. Let’s listen in.

This has been long in the making. You’ve heard —

So Trump starts, in 2018, this series of tariffs that he’s imposing on all sorts of things — washing machines, solar panels, steel, aluminum. I went to Delaware to a lighting store at that time, I remember, where basically everything they sold came from China and was subject to the Trump tariffs, because that’s where lighting was made now.

Interesting.

Hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods now start falling under these Trump tariffs. The Chinese, of course, don’t take this lying down.

China says it is not afraid of a trade war with the US, and it’s fighting back against President Trump with its own tariffs on US goods.

They do their own retaliatory tariffs. Now American exports to China cost more for Chinese consumers. And boom, all of a sudden, we are in the midst of a full-blown trade war between the United States and Beijing.

Right. And that trade war was kind of a shock because for decades, politicians had avoided that kind of policy. It was the consensus of the political class in the United States that there should not be tariffs like that. It should be free trade. And Trump just came in and blew up the consensus.

Yeah. And Sabrina, I may have mentioned this once or 700 times before on this program, but I talk to a lot of economists in my job.

Yeah, it’s weird. I talk to a lot of economists. And in 2018 when this started, there were very, very, very few economists of any political persuasion who thought that imposing all these tariffs were a good idea. Republican economists in particular, this is antithetical to how they think about the world, which is low taxes, free trade. And even Democratic economists who thought they had some problems with the way free trade had been conducted did not think that Trump’s “I’m going to get a better deal” approach was going to work. And so there was a lot of criticism at the time, and a lot of politicians really didn’t like it, a lot of Democrats, many Republicans. And it all added up to just a real, whoa, I don’t think this is going to work.

So that begs the question, did it?

Well, it depends on what you mean by work. Economically, it does not appear to have achieved what Trump wanted. There’s no evidence yet in the best economic research that’s been done on this that enormous amounts of manufacturing jobs came back to the United States because of Trump’s tariffs. There was research, for example, on the tariffs on washing machines. They appear to have helped a couple thousand jobs, manufacturing jobs be created in the United States, but they also raised the price of washing machines for everybody who bought them by enough that each additional job that was created by those tariffs effectively cost consumers, like, $800,000 per job.

There’s like lots of evidence that the sectors Trump was targeting to try to help here, he didn’t. There just wasn’t a lot of employment rebound to the United States. But politically, it really worked. The tariffs were very popular. They had this effect of showing voters in those hollowed-out manufacturing areas that Trump was on their team and that he was fighting for them. Even if they didn’t see the jobs coming back, they felt like he was standing up for them.

So the research suggests this was a savvy political move by Trump. And in the process, it sort of changes the political economic landscape in both parties in the United States.

Right. So Trump made these policies that seemed, for many, many years in the American political system, fringe, isolationist, economically bad, suddenly quite palatable and even desirable to mainstream policymakers.

Yeah. Suddenly getting tough on China is something everyone wants to do across both parties. And so from a political messaging standpoint, being tough on China is now where the mainstream is. But at the same time, there is still big disagreement over whether Trump is getting tough on China in the right way, whether he’s actually being effective at changing the trade relationship with China.

Remember that Trump was imposing these tariffs as a way to get leverage for a better deal with China. Well, he gets a deal of sorts, actually, with the Chinese government, which includes some things about tariffs, and also China agreeing to buy some products from the United States. Trump spins it as this huge win, but nobody else really, including Republicans, acts like Trump has solved the problem that Trump himself has identified. This deal is not enough to make everybody go, well, everything’s great with China now. We can move on to the next thing.

China remains this huge issue. And the question of what is the most effective way to deal with them is still an animating force in politics.

Got it. So politically, huge win, but policy-wise and economically, and fundamentally, the problem of China still very much unresolved.

Absolutely.

So then Biden comes in. What does Biden do? Does he keep the tariffs on?

Biden comes to office, and there remains this real pressure from economists to roll back what they consider to be the ineffective parts of Trump’s trade policy. That includes many of the tariffs. And it’s especially true at a time when almost immediately after Biden takes office, inflation spikes. And so Americans are paying a lot of money for products, and there’s this pressure on Biden, including from inside his administration, to roll back some of the China tariffs to give Americans some relief on prices.

And Biden considers this, but he doesn’t do it. He doesn’t reverse Trump’s tariff policy. In the end, he’s actually building on it.

We’ll be right back.

So Jim, you said that Biden is actually building on Trump’s anti-China policy. What exactly does that look like?

So Biden builds on the Trump China policy in three key ways, but he does it with a really specific goal that I just want you to keep in mind as we talk about all of this, which is that Biden isn’t just trying to beat China on everything. He’s not trying to cut a better deal. Biden is trying to beat China in a specific race to own the clean-energy future.

Clean energy.

Yeah. So keep that in mind, clean energy. And the animating force behind all of the things Biden does with China is that Biden wants to beat China on what he thinks are the jobs of the future, and that’s green technology.

Got it. OK. So what does he do first?

OK. Thing number one — let’s talk about the tariffs. He does not roll them back. And actually, he builds on them. For years, for the most part, he just lets the tariffs be. His administration reviews them. And it’s only now, this week, when his administration is going to actually act on the tariffs. And what they’re going to do is raise some of them. They’re going to raise them on strategic green tech things, like electric vehicles, in order to make them more expensive.

And I think it’s important to know the backdrop here, which is since Biden has taken office, China has started flooding global markets with really low-cost green technologies. Solar panels, electric vehicles are the two really big ones. And Biden’s aides are terrified that those imports are going to wash over the United States and basically wipe out American automakers, solar panel manufacturers, that essentially, if Americans can just buy super-cheap stuff from China, they’re not going to buy it from American factories. Those factories are going to go out of business.

So Biden’s goal of manufacturing jobs in clean energy, China is really threatening that by dumping all these products on the American market.

Exactly. And so what he wants to do is protect those factories with tariffs. And that means increasing the tariffs that Trump put on electric vehicles in hopes that American consumers will find them too expensive to buy.

But doesn’t that go against Biden’s goal of clean energy and things better for the environment? Lots of mass-market electric vehicles into the United States would seem to advance that goal. And here, he’s saying, no, you can’t come in.

Right, because Biden isn’t just trying to reduce emissions at all costs. He wants to reduce emissions while boosting American manufacturing jobs. He doesn’t want China to get a monopoly in these areas. And he’s also, in particular, worried about the politics of lost American manufacturing jobs. So Biden does not want to just let you buy cheaper Chinese technologies, even if that means reducing emissions.

He wants to boost American manufacturing of those things to compete with China, which brings us to our second thing that Biden has done to build on Trump’s China policy, which is that Biden has started to act like the Chinese government in particular areas by showering American manufacturers with subsidies.

I see. So dumping government money into American businesses.

Yes, tax incentives, direct grants. This is a way that China has, in the past decades, built its manufacturing dominance, is with state support for factories. Biden is trying to do that in particular targeted industries, including electric vehicles, solar power, wind power, semiconductors. Biden has passed a bunch of legislation that showers those sectors with incentives and government support in hopes of growing up much faster American industry.

Got it. So basically, Biden is trying to beat China at its own game.

Yeah, he’s essentially using tariffs to build a fortress around American industry so that he can train the troops to fight the clean energy battle with China.

And the troops being American companies.

Yes. It’s like, we’re going to give them protection — protectionist policy — in order to get up to size, get up to strength as an army in this battle for clean energy dominance against the Chinese.

Got it. So he’s trying to build up the fortress. What’s the third thing Biden does? You mentioned three things.

Biden does not want the United States going it alone against China. He’s trying to build an international coalition, wealthy countries and some other emerging countries that are going to take on China and try to stop the Chinese from using their trade playbook to take over all these new emerging industrial markets.

But, Jim, why? What does the US get from bringing our allies into this trade war? Why does the US want that?

Some of this really is about stopping China from gaining access to new markets. It’s like, if you put the low-cost Chinese exports on a boat, and it’s going around the world, looking for a dock to stop and offload the stuff and sell it, Biden wants barriers up at every possible port. And he wants factories in those places that are competing with the Chinese.

And a crucial fact to know here is that the United States and Europe, they are behind China when it comes to clean-energy technology. The Chinese government has invested a lot more than America and Europe in building up its industrial capacity for clean energy. So America and its allies want to deny China dominance of those markets and to build up their own access to them.

And they’re behind, so they’ve got to get going. It’s like they’re in a race, and they’re trailing.

Yeah, it’s an economic race to own these industries, and it’s that global emissions race. They also want to be bringing down fossil-fuel emissions faster than they currently are, and this is their plan.

So I guess, Jim, the question in my mind is, Trump effectively broke the seal, right? He started all of these tariffs. He started this trade war with China. But he did it in this kind of jackhammer, non-targeted way, and it didn’t really work economically. Now Biden is taking it a step further. But the question is, is his effort here going to work?

The answer to whether it’s going to work really depends on what your goals are. And Biden and Trump have very different goals. If Trump wins the White House back, he has made very clear that his goal is to try to rip the United States trade relationship with China even more than he already has. He just wants less trade with China and more stuff of all types made in the United States that used to be made in China. That’s a very difficult goal, but it’s not Biden’s goal.

Biden’s goal is that he wants America to make more stuff in these targeted industries. And there is real skepticism from free-market economists that his industrial policies will work on that, but there’s a lot of enthusiasm for it from a new strain of Democratic economists, in particular, who believe that the only chance Biden has to make that work is by pulling all of these levers, by doing the big subsidies and by putting up the tariffs, that you have to have both the troops training and the wall around them. And if it’s going to work, he has to build on the Trump policies. And so I guess you’re asking, will it work? It may be dependent upon just how far he’s willing to go on the subsidies and the barriers.

There’s a chance of it.

So, Jim, at the highest level, whatever the economic outcome here, it strikes me that these moves by Biden are pretty remarkably different from the policies of the Democratic Party over the decades, really going in the opposite direction. I’m thinking of Bill Clinton and NAFTA in the 1990s. Free trade was the real central mantra of the Democratic Party, really of both parties.

Yeah, and Biden is a real break from Clinton. And Clinton was the one who actually signed the law that really opened up trade with China, and Biden’s a break from that. He’s a break from even President Obama when he was vice president. Biden is doing something different. He’s breaking from that Democratic tradition, and he’s building on what Trump did, but with some throwback elements to it from the Roosevelt administration and the Eisenhower administration. This is this grand American tradition of industrial policy that gave us the space race and the interstate highway system. It’s the idea of using the power of the federal government to build up specific industrial capacities. It was in vogue for a time. It fell out of fashion and was replaced by this idea that the government should get out of the way, and you let the free market drive innovation. And now that industrial policy idea is back in vogue, and Biden is doing it.

So it isn’t just a shift or an evolution. It’s actually a return to big government spending of the ‘30s and the ‘40s and the ‘50s of American industrialism of that era. So what goes around comes around.

Yeah, and it’s a return to that older economic theory with new elements. And it’s in part because of the almost jealousy that American policymakers have of China and the success that it’s had building up its own industrial base. But it also has this political element to it. It’s, in part, animated by the success that Trump had making China an issue with working-class American voters.

You didn’t have to lose your job to China to feel like China was a stand-in for the forces that have taken away good-paying middle-class jobs from American workers who expected those jobs to be there. And so Trump tapped into that. And Biden is trying to tap into that. And the political incentives are pushing every future American president to do more of that. So I think we are going to see even more of this going forward, and that’s why we’re in such an interesting moment right now.

So we’re going to see more fortresses.

More fortresses, more troops, more money.

Jim, thank you.

You’re welcome.

Here’s what else you should know today. Intense fighting between Hamas fighters and Israeli troops raged in parts of Northern Gaza over the weekend, an area where Israel had declared Hamas defeated earlier in the war, only to see the group reconstitute in the power vacuum that was left behind. The persistent lawlessness raised concerns about the future of Gaza among American officials. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the return of Hamas to the North left him concerned that Israeli victories there would be, quote, “not sustainable,” and said that Israel had not presented the United States with any plan for when the war ends.

And the United Nations aid agency in Gaza said early on Sunday that about 300,000 people had fled from Rafah over the past week, the city in the enclave’s southernmost tip where more than a million displaced Gazans had sought shelter from Israeli bombardments elsewhere. The UN made the announcement hours after the Israeli government issued new evacuation orders in Rafah, deepening fears that the Israeli military was preparing to invade the city despite international warnings.

Today’s episode was produced by Nina Feldman, Carlos Prieto, Sidney Harper, and Luke Vander Ploeg. It was edited by M.J. Davis Lin, Brendan Klinkenberg, and Lisa Chow. Contains original music by Diane Wong, Marion Lozano, and Dan Powell, and was engineered by Alyssa Moxley. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly.

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Sabrina Tavernise. See you tomorrow.

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Produced by Nina Feldman ,  Carlos Prieto ,  Sydney Harper and Luke Vander Ploeg

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Donald Trump upended decades of American policy when he started a trade war with China. Many thought that President Biden would reverse those policies. Instead, he’s stepping them up.

Jim Tankersley, who covers economic policy at the White House, explains.

On today’s episode

what does a good strategic plan look like

Jim Tankersley , who covers economic policy at the White House for The New York Times.

At a large shipping yard, thousands of vehicles are stacked in groups. Red cranes are in the background.

Background reading

Mr. Biden, competing with Mr. Trump to be tough on China , called for steel tariffs last month.

The Biden administration may raise tariffs on electric vehicles from China to 100 percent .

There are a lot of ways to listen to The Daily. Here’s how.

We aim to make transcripts available the next workday after an episode’s publication. You can find them at the top of the page.

The Daily is made by Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Sydney Harper, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens, Rowan Niemisto, Jody Becker, Rikki Novetsky, John Ketchum, Nina Feldman, Will Reid, Carlos Prieto, Ben Calhoun, Susan Lee, Lexie Diao, Mary Wilson, Alex Stern, Dan Farrell, Sophia Lanman, Shannon Lin, Diane Wong, Devon Taylor, Alyssa Moxley, Summer Thomad, Olivia Natt, Daniel Ramirez and Brendan Klinkenberg.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Lisa Tobin, Larissa Anderson, Julia Simon, Sofia Milan, Mahima Chablani, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda, Renan Borelli, Maddy Masiello, Isabella Anderson and Nina Lassam.

Luke Vander Ploeg is a senior producer on “The Daily” and a reporter for the National Desk covering the Midwest. More about Luke Vander Ploeg

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COMMENTS

  1. PDF How to write a strategic plan

    Overcoming Challenges and Pitfalls. Challenge of consensus over clarity. Challenge of who provides input versus who decides. Preparing a long, ambitious, 5 year plan that sits on a shelf. Finding a balance between process and a final product. Communicating and executing the plan. Lack of alignment between mission, action, and finances.

  2. How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

    1. Run a strategic planning workshop. The first step is to run a strategic planning workshop with your team. Get your team in the room, get their data, and gather their insights. By running this workshop, you'll foster collaboration and bring fresh perspectives to the table. And that's not all.

  3. Quick Guide: How to Write a Strategic Plan

    Highlight the plan in a company newsletter. Include the plan in new employee onboarding. Post the plan on the employee intranet, along with key highlights and a way to track progress. If you hold a meeting, make sure you and other key planners are prepared to handle the feedback and discussion that will arise.

  4. How To Write a Strategic Plan

    Plan Writing Step 1: Establish Your Strategic Foundation. The first step in any business strategy or organizational strategy is to start by establishing or confirming your strategic foundation - in simple terms, we mean clearly articulating why your organization exists and how you expect your team to behave (Mission and Core values).

  5. Strategic Planning: How to Write a Strategic Plan That Works

    Putting your strategic plan into practice (our final step) is the key to making it all work during the strategy implementation plan, and getting these details 80% right in a timely fashion is much more important than getting them 100% right in a year. 3. Putting your strategic plan into practice.

  6. How To Write a Surprisingly Easy and Effective Strategic Plan

    You must set your strategic priorities first, and that often takes time. There are three areas to look at when setting priorities in your plan: Current situation: Think about which aspects of your business are doing great, and which aspects need improvement. Recognize what's holding you back from reaching your objectives.

  7. How To Write a Strategic Plan (Plus Elements To Include)

    4. Develop focus areas. Focus areas are the high-priority elements the company plans to focus its efforts on in working toward its vision. For each value in the strategic plan, state a focus area to accompany that value. These focus areas may be more specific than the vision statement and include a quantifiable metric to achieve.

  8. How To Write a Strategic Plan With Your Team

    Now that you know what a strategic plan should include, here's a step-by-step guide on how to write a strategic plan for your business. 1. Hold a strategic planning meeting. No man is an island, especially in the realm of strategic planning. You want to get your entire team involved in the strategic planning process.

  9. 6 Steps to Make Your Strategic Plan Really Strategic

    Share. Save. Summary. Many strategic plans aren't strategic, or even plans. To fix that, try a six step process: first, identify key stakeholders. Second, identify a specific, very important key ...

  10. The Ultimate Strategic Planning Guide

    The 6-step strategic planning process. There is a lot that goes into strategic planning. The process we outline helps you look at your plan from a different angle and make sure you make it executable. 1. The Pre-planning stage. Planning helps you make sense of the chaotic reality by inserting some structure into it.

  11. A guide to creating an effective strategic plan

    Developing a strategic plan for your product (s) will help you: Communicate your product vision and mission to internal and external stakeholders. Motivate your immediate and cross-functional teams to unite toward common objectives. Empower those teams and individuals to achieve key results aligned to those common objectives.

  12. Strategic Planning: 5 Planning Steps, Process Guide [2024] • Asana

    A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives. Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you ...

  13. Essential Guide to Strategic Planning

    Strategic management is part of a larger planning process that includes budgeting, forecasting, capital allocation, and more. There is no right or wrong way to do strategic management — only guidelines. The basic phases are preparing for strategic planning, creating the strategic plan, and implementing that plan.

  14. What Makes a Good Strategic Plan

    As such, a fully developed plan would look like the example of a strategic plan below: Strategic Themes: These are one- to three-word affinity group headings used to compartmentalize strategic and operational plans, such as Quality, Safety, People, Customers, Service, Finance, and Growth. For companies that use strategic themes, four to six ...

  15. The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

    Estimated Duration. Determine organizational readiness. Owner/CEO, Strategy Director. Readiness assessment. Establish your planning team and schedule. Owner/CEO, Strategy Leader. Kick-Off Meeting: 1 hr. Collect and review information to help make the upcoming strategic decisions. Planning Team and Executive Team.

  16. How To Outline Your Strategic Plan

    A 3-Part Strategic Plan Outline. 1. Create a vivid description of what your "final destination" is. To create an overall vision, some organizations start by holding a brainstorming session in which they "imagine a world" where: Their organization is dominating the industry. They've tripled in size.

  17. The Seven Keys To Successful Strategic Planning

    1. Assess your industry, competitors and market trends. The initial step in creating an effective strategic plan is to assess the external forces shaping your industry, understanding the ...

  18. Strategic Planning: How to Make a Great Plan That Works

    Strategic planning for your company can often feel like guesses, hunches, and shots in the dark. However, there are frameworks and strategies you can employ to make your strategic planning as accurate and valuable as possible. Check out this article if you'd like a step-by-step guide to go through your strategic planning.

  19. Strategic Planning by a McKinsey Alum

    Strategic planning typically solves for three levels of strategy: 1. Business Model Strategy. 2. Organizational & Financial Strategy. 3. Functional Strategy. For larger companies with multiple business units there is a 4th higher level of strategy, Corporate Strategy, which is about the allocation of capital and resources across business units ...

  20. What is Strategic Planning? Definition, Importance, Model, Process and

    A strategic plan is more than just a business tool, it also plays a key role in defining operational, cultural, and workplace ethics. Here are some of the key aspects of the importance of strategic planning: 1. Provides a unified goal . A strategic plan is like a unified action plan for the whole company in order to achieve common outcomes.

  21. Learn More About Key Components in a Strategic Plan

    Here's what an action plan with a scorecard could look like: Strategic Planning Template. Now that you know what the key components of a strategic plan are, you can use a template to help create a plan for your business. The template can be built in a word processing or spreadsheet app, or through a specialized planning app.

  22. 10 Elements of a Great Strategy

    Language and actions identified should be crisp, concise, clear, direct and specific. Element #5: Less is More. This has been said many times, but a strategic plan should focus on the Critical Few. A plan should outline what the organization should not do just as much as it articulates what it should do.

  23. Strategic Plan Template: What To Include In Yours

    To help you succeed, use this proven strategic plan template, and the information below details the 13 key sections you must include in your strategic plan. Section 1: Executive Summary. The ...

  24. AI strategy in business: A guide for executives

    Only 7 percent of respondents to our survey about the use of AI say they use it in strategy or even financial planning, whereas in areas like marketing, supply chain, and service operations, it's 25 or 30 percent. ... Every business probably has some opportunity to use AI more than it does today. The first thing to look at is the availability ...

  25. Kendrick Lamar

    Not Like Us Lyrics: Psst, I see dead people / (Mustard on the beat, ho) / Ayy, Mustard on the beat, ho / Deebo any rap nigga, he a free throw / Man down, call an amberlamps, tell him, "Breathe, bro

  26. Good Parenting: What does it look like?

    Good enough parenting focuses on tuning in to and responding to your child's emotions and needs. These needs will change over time. For example, a good enough parent realises they need to ...

  27. A Plan to Remake the Middle East

    So it very much looks like this giant agreement that once seemed doable before October 7th might be more important to everyone involved than ever, given that it's a plan for rebuilding Gaza and ...

  28. The Possible Collapse of the U.S. Home Insurance System

    Across the United States, more frequent extreme weather is starting to cause the home insurance market to buckle, even for those who have paid their premiums dutifully year after year.

  29. Stormy Daniels Takes the Stand

    This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this ...

  30. How Biden Adopted Trump's Trade War With China

    It's like, if you put the low-cost Chinese exports on a boat, and it's going around the world, looking for a dock to stop and offload the stuff and sell it, Biden wants barriers up at every ...