strategic-planning-process

Part Two: Strategic Planning: Turning Your Vision into Reality in 12 Steps

Welcome to Part 2 of this series on strategic planning. If you missed Part 1, be sure to check out steps 1-6 of the planning process

In this post, you’ll learn how to identify the highest priority initiatives, develop specific strategies for execution, and measure your progress. 

In Part 1, we shared how to take a holistic approach to strategic planning by evaluating your internal and external environment, including surveying customers and employees, analyzing the marketplace, and uncovering industry trends. Once you’ve gathered all the data, make a list of critical impact factors that might end up on your final strategic plan. 

That brings us to today’s post – determining and executing the plan (steps 7-12). Once the critical impact factors have been identified, grouped, and organized, it usually becomes very clear where to focus your efforts. 

Let’s dive in. 

Determining the Plan and Executing it

Now that you have identified a list of possible opportunities and critical impact factors, it’s time to establish a plan, set specific goals, and determine action steps for each initiative.

Step 7: Establish Strategic Initiatives & Select Team Leads

After organizing and categorizing all the ideas your team unpacked in step 6, you should start to see trends emerge. Narrow down the options that your team feels are the highest priorities and most significant opportunities. 

Over the years, we’ve learned that you don’t want too many initiatives, or it becomes impossible to focus and make progress. Aim for less than 5 key initiatives each year. 

Once you’ve prioritized and determined the final initiatives, choose team leaders for each one. If someone in the organization is passionate about a particular project and wants to take the lead, pair them with another employee who is familiar with the part of your business that will be impacted. 

When employees are passionate and engaged, an initiative is more likely to succeed because of the drive behind it. 

Step 8: Develop Specific Goals for Initiatives

To measure the success of each initiative, set specific goals. Setting goals allows you to measure your progress and achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish. 

Here’s a quick guide on how to set SMART GOALS that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. 

  • Specific: 
    • Aim for clear, concise, and tangible goals. 
    • Who, what, where, when, and why?
  • Measurable: 
    • Look at clear measures of success, key metrics, and milestones, including dollars, volume, time, and experiences.
  • Attainable:  
    • What’s achievable? Determine a stretch opportunity to develop and grow. 
  • Relevant: 
    • Make sure your goals are results-focused, aligned with company priorities, and delivers tangible results.
  • Timely: 
    • Set a due date to give the goal focus and a sense of urgency. 
    • Don’t forget to communicate deadlines and stay committed to them. 

Step 9: Devise Action Items for Each Initiative

Now that you’ve set SMART goals for each initiative, it’s time to decide how you’re going to get it all done. At this stage, let’s determine individual action steps to accomplish each goal. 

Don’t be afraid to get very specific here. Identify every step that needs to happen to get the job done. Since employees throughout the entire organization will help carry out the strategic plan, you need to have detailed action items for each initiative. 

As this process takes shape, identify employees who will most likely have an interest or the skillset to accomplish each task. 

At Riekes, employees only commit to one action item, although some employees will be resources for other actions because of their expertise. For example, individuals on our IT team end up as resources for many initiatives. 

This process takes multiple meetings to dial in each specific action plan and the team in charge of making it happen. Initiative teams oversee finalizing the details for the final strategic plan.

Step 10: Publish the Final Results

Employee engagement is the key to successfully implementing your strategic plan. Once the plan is completed, it’s essential that all team members know what the plan is, and more importantly, WHY it’s important. 

Try to get as much buy-in as you can throughout the planning process. Ask for volunteers and communicate often to keep everyone informed. 

There are many ways to communicate with your organization. At Riekes, we publish a progress board (see image below) to keep every branch informed on where we are with the strategic plan initiatives. Keep it updated monthly and notify employees when significant accomplishments are completed. 

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your successes with employee lunches, dinners, and outings. Celebrating wins reinforces the importance of the strategic plan and employee engagement. 

Step 11: Determine the Company Budget

Budgeting is an integral part of the strategic planning process. Some initiatives will come at a cost. 

Strive to be nimble and ROI driven, so you can proceed with a project if it will pay for itself or justify the expense. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, you may need to address the budget earlier in the planning process. 

Step 12: Measure Progress 

As you enter a new year and start implementing the plan, don’t forget to track your progress and report it to employees. If you’re asking employees to help accomplish the plan, make sure they know where the organization stands. 

Be regular with your updates. Do it monthly (or quarterly at a minimum) and highlight significant successes in real-time throughout the year. 

Plantings Seeds for the Future

Strategic planning is a process. But once you’ve adopted this framework, hundreds of new ideas will emerge – planting seeds for the future. If you’re getting good employee engagement, they’ll likely take your plan and make it better. The momentum you gain as an organization can accelerate your business from year to year. 

Even in years when we’re experiencing uncertain global environments and economic challenges, you can minimize your impact by creating a strategic plan. At Riekes, we accredit much of our growth to a flexible and focused yearly strategic plan. In the many years that we have been doing it, we have accomplished some amazing things… and you will too.  

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