5 Keys to Building a Strategic Plan That Fuels Growth

Many leaders and teams don’t spend enough time building a strategy. It can be hard to focus on your organization’s strategy when you’re trying to balance your daily tasks, meetings and interruptions.

However, operating without a strategy is like walking around in the dark. The most important job of the leader is to plan for what lies ahead. Think of your strategy as the compass that guides your organization to new levels of success.

Ongoing strategic planning can bring you a number of benefits, including:

  • Increased revenue and faster growth
  • A focused and productive team that works together to meet customer needs
  • Employees who feel a sense of ownership when they take part in your planning and gain some control over your direction
  • Less frustration and wasted efforts
  • Improved company morale and a more fun work environment

5 keys to building a strategic plan that helps your organization thrive:

1. Conduct market intelligence.

Think of your market research like military reconnaissance that will give you insights into the landscape and your opponents. Start by looking at your industry to find out what’s evolving and what your competitors are doing.

Interview your customers via an independent third party to find out what’s important to them and what they will need in the future. Ask what your organization is doing well and how you can improve. Don’t rely solely on your sales team for this information, as customers likely won’t tell your sales reps the whole truth.

Once you have this information, you can evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. You’ll also know where you stand relative to your competitors.

Conduct this research on an annual or biannual basis to keep up with evolving customer needs and market trends.

2. Engage your team in your strategic planning.

Hold an annual planning off-site retreat with your leadership team. Getting away from the office lets you push aside distractions, so you can focus on your strategic plan and build teamwork.

Cover these core four key areas during your retreat:

  1. Your Philosophy. Why do you exist? What are your values at a higher, philosophical level?
  2. Your Strategy. Where do you want to go? How will you get there?
  3. Your Goals. What are the SMART goals that you want to achieve in the future?
  4. Your Action Plan. What steps will you take to achieve your goals? What are the target completion dates for key tasks? Who will be the champions for each of the tasks?

During your retreat, have your entire leadership team craft your strategic plan together. This is a powerful process that puts everyone in alignment. When everyone on your team contributes to developing your strategic plan, they will be much more committed to helping the team achieve your goals.

Need help developing your Strategic Plan? Check out our Ultimate Strategic Plan Template. 


3. Build the right team.

Every year, evaluate your team to determine if they have the passion, behaviour and skills to achieve your goals. How does your current team and team profile compare with your ideal structure? As your organization evolves, you will likely need different people with different skills. You may also need to give your current team training to enhance their skills.

4. Execute your strategy.

Hold monthly or quarterly leadership team meetings to make sure you and your team execute the strategy. Update your team on key initiatives, remind them of their goals and ensure champions complete their tasks. This will improve responsibility, accountability and maintain alignment.

5. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Strategic planning is an ongoing process. As the market changes, you’ll need to change with it. Your plan should be flexible, so you can tweak it to quickly respond to changes and keep your organization on track.

It’s useful to have an outside third party manage or facilitate your strategic planning process. If the leader or a team member tries to moderate a strategy session, they will likely unintentionally shut down the team. In addition, team members will likely feel another team member facilitating is biased. They may not feel comfortable opening up in front of their leader. No one wants to disagree with the boss!

Your team will feel more comfortable engaging in the strategic planning process with the help of a neutral third-party facilitator. The more they open up, the more insights you will gain about how you can improve your organization and drive results.

Need help developing your Strategic Plan? Check out our Ultimate Strategic Plan Template. 

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