Strategic planning is important because it provides a sense of direction and outlines measurable goals. Strategies should map long-term plans to both objectives and actionable steps. It should foster innovative thinking as well as anticipate and mitigate potential pitfalls. While there are many frameworks available to form your plan, I like to use the OGSM model. OGSM stands for objective, goals, strategies and measures. It is a straightforward tool you can use to help you put your corporate vision or strategy into action.

Regardless of which format you decide to use, I recommend starting the strategic process by conducting a Strategic Discovery Session. It is helpful to first consider the organization’s strategic positioning (how the organization differentiates itself from its competitors) and the market environment surrounding the organization and then conduct a SWOT exercise.  Spending time up front identifying how internal and external factors may impact the organization over the length of the strategic plan cycle is a wise investment of time. It helps ensure that a solid understanding of current risks and opportunities are factored into both the desired outcomes and the final plan.

After completing this preliminary step, you can formulate your desired outcomes. During my time as CEO, my most successful strategic plans included financial, people and process — goals that tied to our overall purpose. The purpose is your WHY. It is not only why the organization exists — it is also what unites the people in the organization. Ensuring the purpose is not only understood by each member of your organization but more importantly how each contributes to that purpose is critical to the whole team buying into the plan. Having your purpose front and center as you craft your plan is critical to your success.

As I mentioned above, plans should also include financial, people and process goals. Give some thought to the desired outcomes as they relate to financial goals along with the human capital and culture, talent attraction, retention, employee happiness and wellness, engagement, and development goals. Is the financial goal achievable? Is it a big enough stretch? Will it motivate people? How does it compare to the market growth and average return? In regards to people, what is most important for your organization in the coming year? What, in this area, do you need to focus on to deliver on your purpose?  What will tie the people to the purpose more completely?

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Some organizations overlook setting PEOPLE goals and focus solely on the financial goal. In my experience, this does not achieve a sustainable framework for the organization.

Lastly, goal setting should also consider process improvements that support the purpose and delivery of the financial goal. Including this in your goal-setting project will ensure that the strategic process is more thorough and robust. The more you can involve operational team members in this strategic activity, the more likely the goals will be achieved. People with hands-on operational experience and insight need to be at the table to ensure the best chance of getting the process development and investment right.

It goes without saying that goals need to be MEASURABLE. One of the reasons I like OGSM is because measurement is a key factor in the framework. Again, I encourage you to discuss the key performance indicators and measurable outcomes with operational leaders and those at the grass root levels. Depending upon how large an organization you lead, you may want to extend the strategic planning process to include work teams and/or strategic planning committees to flush out more detailed action plans.

Once the plan is crafted, the process moves on to communication, implementation and follow up. These steps are where the rubber hits the road and the plan starts to become a reality. Next month’s blog will address these important steps. As a leader, I always looked forward to the strategic planning process. Today I enjoy coaching and sharing my experiences with other leaders.

Overall, the more inclusive you make the process, the greater chance you have of succeeding.

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