Everyone Needs a Strategic Plan

September 01, 2009

Posted in Personal and Small Business.

On my non-profit blog I write a lot about strategic planning. But it’s clear that most people don’t understand what a strategic plan is or why it’s important.

Strategic plans aren’t just for big organizations. They are useful to departments, small groups, or even individuals in their personal or professional lives.

What the heck is a strategic plan?

It’s a roadmap. It lays out the vision – here’s where I want to go – and the strategy – here’s how I’m going to get there.

It’s made up of some simple parts:

  • Mission: What do I do?
  • Vision: Where do I see myself?
  • Strategies: How I’ll get to my vision.
    • Strategy 1
      • Specific steps I’ll take.
      • Measurements: How I know I’m on my way.
    • Strategy 2
      • Specific steps I’ll take.
      • Measurements: How I know I’m on my way.
    • Strategy 3
      • Specific steps I’ll take.
      • Measurements: How I know I’m on my way.

The hardest part of a strategic plan isn’t producing one, it’s deciding on the vision, strategies, and measurements. Strategic plans can be simple one page summaries of the mission, vision, and strategies. Or they can be long, detailed specifications of the exact process. I prefer the simpler versions – they’re easier to produce and convey.

Why do I need a Strategic Plan?

The whole point isn’t to have a strategic plan, it’s to execute it. But most people go through life without a stated vision or strategies for getting there. Stating your goals (vision) and the steps you’ll take to accomplish them are a critical part of achievement.

Some Tips

Think big. It’s OK to want to conquer the world.

Get over the constraints in your vision. What would you do if you won the lottery? What do you want your legacy to be? The answers to those questions should inform your real vision and strategies.

Get input. Bring others into the process – including outsiders – to provide feedback and insight into the plan.

Share your plan and progress. If you make a plan and it collects dust on a shelf, it’s worthless. So tell people about it. Have update meetings to share your progress. Celebrate your victories. This is how you can be accountable, and without that you’re wasting your time.