Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

The Top 5 Recommended Strategic Planning Process Steps

By Leadership Resources 04/30/2022

As you research ways to grow and optimize your business, you’ll come across the term “strategic planning” quite a bit. But what is strategic planning, exactly? Strategic planning refers to a carefully crafted and supervised process (or processes) that helps you make informed decisions to grow your business and overcome obstacles. Like any competent strategy, this planning involves many moving parts that must remain flexible enough to allow for changes when necessary. Let’s break down five crucial strategic planning process steps so you can safely steer your organization in the right direction.

What Are the Five Steps in the Strategic Planning Process?

1. Understand Where You Stand

The strategic planning process begins with a thorough analysis of your organization’s current situation. If you don’t know where you stand right now, you won’t know where to go next. Determining your strategic position requires collecting good data from multiple angles. Seek detailed insights from your leadership team, receive feedback from employees and customers, and compare key performance indicators (KPIs) with those of competitors in your market. Take a look at your company’s current vision and mission statements as well. Once you’ve gathered all of this information, break it all down into four categories of interest: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). This SWOT diagram (or similar visual aid) will help clarify your standing so you can better move forward with your strategic planning.

2. Form a Coherent Vision

Now that you’ve got an aerial view of your organization’s strategic position, it’s time to develop a new vision that addresses every weak point and bolsters your existing strengths. This vision should capture a broad, general, and concise picture of what your company wishes to achieve and become. Developing this vision can help you write a mission statement as well, which lays out your business’s reason for being. Having a clear, coherent vision and mission statement in place will provide a solid bedrock for your decisions moving forward.

3. Identify the Gaps

Strategic planning is all about getting to where you want to go efficiently. Your vision provides the general direction, like a compass – without a map, however, you’ll have a hard time avoiding the obstacles that stand in your way like rocks dotting the sea. The next step in this process, then, is to identify the barriers and gaps that separate your current position from the one you’re trying to achieve. Common gaps faced by companies of all sizes include public relations, financials, market share, internal systems, communication, and so on. Conduct a thorough gap analysis by breaking down specific gaps and asking key questions that dig to the heart of the matter. If, for instance, your business isn’t meeting a specific customer demand, you might ask why you’re not positioned to meet this need and realize you haven’t devoted the proper resources to that task.

4. Get Your Goals in Order

At this point, your organization should know where it stands, where it’s headed, and how to chart a course to get there. There’s still the matter of doing the work, however. This is where proper goal-setting comes into play. Every gap you identify should be met with a specific plan (i.e. goal) that addresses the problem with precise actions and indicators that relevant parties can keep track of. These goals should have a concrete date, specific figures, and list of individuals responsible for achieving them. Each goal, no matter how small, should be in service of the larger vision and focused by your latest mission statement.

5. Execute, Analyze, Revise

As you deploy your strategic plan, you’ll soon find that many variables are out of your control, such as market forces, personnel changes, destabilizing world events, and more. In some cases, you’ll simply fail to meet certain goals. If you cling too tightly to your plans or start from scratch, you’ll likely suffer setbacks. Rather than retrace all of your steps in strategic planning thus far, it’s better to adapt accordingly. Check in on your goals at intervals to track your progress and identify any unforeseen issues that have cropped up. If necessary, adjust your goals to account for these changes and repeat this cycle. Frequent monitoring is crucial for ensuring the success of any strategic plan, even if it means the details of said plan don’t look exactly the same over time.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease obstacles and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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Top 4 Things to Look for when You’re Ready to Work With Strategic Planning Consultants

By Leadership Resources 01/31/2022
Strategic planning consultant presenting on a board

What Is Strategic Planning?

Attempting to grow or optimize your business without a detailed plan is sort of like trying to navigate uncharted territory without a map. Now that a new year is underway, it’s a perfect time to take stock of your current operations and develop a strategy for decision-making that will steer your ship in the right direction; this process is known as strategic planning. The best strategic plans don’t appear out of thin air or pop up overnight. Developing the right plan for your business requires a deep analysis of your operations, goals, roles, and resources. Strategic planning consultants have put in the time, effort, and research to help businesses find the best path forward through actionable strategies. Of course, not all consultants are created equal, and some are bound to be a better fit for your organization than others. If you’ve decided it’s time to work with such a consultant, you’ll want to do your due diligence before selecting a candidate.

With that in mind, here are four important questions to ask before hiring a strategic planning consultant.

What to Look for in Strategic Planning Consultants

1. What Is Their Experience?

Just as you would before hiring a new employee, you’ll want to learn all about a strategic planning consultant’s prior experience before bringing them on board. Even if all strategic planning consulting firms share a similar skillset, some will have experience that’s more relevant to your business, and some will have more experience on the whole. Ask a candidate about the firms they’ve worked with in the past and the industries they’re familiar with. Prioritize those who have been consulting for a long time and who have helped similar firms as yours develop and execute effective plans.

2. What Is Their Process?

Though every business will benefit from a unique plan, consultants should bring a strong strategic planning process to the table as a basic framework to get started. It’s important to get a glimpse into these processes before choosing a strategic planning consultant. For example, at Leadership Resources, our Accelerate Leadership Program is designed to help every organization build a culture of accountability and productivity via tools, content, peer development, one-on-one coaching, and more. The specifics of this program vary from business to business, but the building blocks remain the same, and they’ve proven effective.

3. What Is Their Reputation?

The best strategic planning consultants should be proud to reveal their track record. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to you to dig deeper into a candidate’s reputation. Fortunately, it’s often easy these days to find reviews and testimonials online. Be sure to examine a wide range of feedback (if applicable), and don’t be afraid to ask a given consultant about specific situations or clients (though they may only be able to volunteer so much information).

4. Are They Compatible with Your Culture?

This last factor often gets overlooked, but it’s crucial for ensuring long-term success with a strategic planning consultant. Simply put, if your company doesn’t mesh well with a consultant and/or consulting firm, problems can quickly arise, stifling results and sending you back to the drawing board. So, take the time to get to know a strategic planning consultant before hiring them to see just how compatible (or incompatible) you are. If they’re not a good fit, it’s best to look elsewhere, even if said candidate has everything else going for them.

Selecting a strategic planning consultant requires a bit of strategy in its own right. Checking for experience, process, reputation, and compatibility will help you find a reliable, long-term partner that will propel your organization in the right direction with clarity and accountability.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease obstacles and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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