A Strategic Plan. Defined or Aligned?

One of the most fundamental and critical elements of a successful business is the strategic plan.  Whether formally designed, published, and distributed with training for all of its stakeholders – or simply a set of strategies living within the cranium of the entrepreneur, every business has a strategic plan.

The goal is to develop a version of your strategic plan that allows you to focus on achieving your vision, and not on the mechanics of the actual document.  If you’ve ever worked with a 100 page strategic plan, you understand what I mean.

So how do we create a strategic plan (or business plan) that is clear and concise?  A plan that keeps us focused on our vision, with minimal effort required to update progress reports, data sheets, and project plans?

The answer is in a concept called business alignment.  If your strategic planning process or strategic plan template follows the principles of business alignment, you will focus on relevant goals, processes, and metrics.

Here are three simple ways to help align your strategic plan to your business:

Clear Vision and Mission.  You vision (where you are heading) and your mission (what you do today) must be written in a manner that provides clarity, motivates all stakeholders, and is realistic.  Every activity, purchase, goal, meeting, and decision should support your vision and mission.   If not, you are spending valuable time on non-value added activities.

Processes – What processes and systems take up 80% of our time each day?  Do these process support your mission?  Do they move you closer to your vision? Are you using your core competencies to your competitive advantage?  One of the best ways to improve the buy-in of your strategies by your staff is to ensure their daily tasks directly correlate to the mission and vision.

Metrics.  One of the more common reasons strategic plans and business plans get shelved is they often require an abundance of reporting. How consistent are the key performance metrics in your processes and systems, with your compensation-related KPIs, your annual budget, and the outcomes of each of your strategic goals?  And, what metrics do you talk about in your weekly meetings?  If they are all over the map, you might find yourself spending more time compiling and reporting, than improving the metrics.

So, keep it clear & concise.  Monitor the few relevant metrics.  And, review your operational activities to ensure they support your strategies.  These three tips will move you closer to solid business alignment for your strategic plan.


About Ron Woodbury

Owner and Founder of Ron Woodbury Consulting.