Strategic planning is crucial for a business as it creates a map for an organization to follow and correct when necessary. Without a plan, a business can lack direction. Here's why it's important to plan your strategies.
Rarely is a goal achieved or target hit without the backing of a strategy for how to do so.
A stab in the dark or an improvised plan might find its mark by luck or coincidence, but why run that risk?
From military victories to winning sporting achievements - strategy is the lynchpin that takes talent, great ideas, and aptitude and turns them into success.
The same is true when applied to strategic planning in business.
And yet, organizations continue to fail to realize the potential of their plans. Read on for a refresher on why strategic plans are so important and how to improve your ability to execute these plans.
What is strategic planning?
In business, strategic planning involves determining the direction you wish to take your organization in and the goals you wish to achieve and devising a plan to get you there.
Strategies tend to be long-term and overarching but can also work on a smaller scale when focused on specific short-term targets.
Good strategies involve a high level of critical thinking and an awareness of your organization’s past and current condition, which will form precisely how you want it to grow and develop.
A corporate strategy focuses on your organization and might mean pushing for growth, encouraging stabilization, or changing direction.
A business strategy is more precise and usually customer-focused, or to make you stand out from the crowd in a particular area of your industry. Business strategies will support your corporate strategy.
Within these two strategy distinctions, further variations can be used singularly or in combination to suit the organization best using them. However, every successful strategy is likely to have a few key things in common:
A good strategy is time-bound
Whether the deadline is six months or a year away, there should be a limit to the time your strategy should be implemented.
There should be quantifiable ways of measuring a strategy’s success
Your goal may be for your organization to become a leading figure in your field, but this is vague. How do you judge what makes a leading figure? Set a measurable target.
The best strategies can ride out unexpected pitfalls by being adaptable and responsive.
Sticking to a plan that has met insurmountable resistance to see it through isn’t likely to be profitable.
Why is strategic planning important?
The importance of strategic planning lies in the clarity it brings to all business areas.
Clarity about past performance, why you’ve chosen your goals, and why the action you have decided to take will get you there.
Ideally supported by data and made up of well-chosen tactics, a strategy will keep your business on course.
It gives the company a sense of direction
It’s easy for a business to lose sight of its goals in the commotion of day-to-day operations.
This is true at every level, for every role - when you’re focused on what you’re working on, sometimes you can forget exactly what you’re working for.
A company-wide strategy that is understood and acknowledged will remind everyone what they’re working towards.
It increases efficiency and productivity
The best work is produced by people with a complete and detailed understanding of the task and how their work contributes to their organization.
This is why a strategy enhances the productivity of employees at every level.
Additionally, when devising a strategy, inefficient areas and processes often come to light and are adjusted accordingly.
It encourages collaboration between teams
A key part of strategic planning involves reallocating time and resources to ensure that work is carried out most efficiently.
Often this brings together employees from different teams and encourages open lines of communication between departments. This is especially useful when a problem arises that needs to be addressed from multiple angles.
It highlights potential roadblocks
When visualizing the future you want for your organization, it’s easy to do so with rose-tinted glasses.
In creating a strategy, you’re forced to imagine how you might respond to undesirable scenarios and plan for what to do if this prediction comes true.
Similarly, looking at past data can help you realize which current processes might be holding you back from achieving your goal. Implementing change in these areas can be factored into your strategy.
It encourages innovation
Leading on nicely from the discovery of roadblocks - encountering trouble in your strategy creation is an opportunity for you and your team to provide creative solutions.
These situations can help previously-untapped talent flourish and work to their strengths, allowing these employees to be recognized for their creative contributions.
This means that the innovation required to produce a successful strategy can increase engagement across your workforce.
How to improve strategic planning in your business
Once the importance of strategic planning in business is fully understood, you can begin to imagine how a good strategy can take your organization to the next level.
At i-nexus, we have the ability to help you take your strategies from the drawing board to the boardroom.
Using our software, you can align all your goals, set your organization on course for success, and craft plans to make your strategy a reality.
See how i-nexus can help you with strategic planning today by requesting your free trial below.
Learn more about strategy execution
Click here to learn more about strategy execution, or take a look at these content recommendations:
- Key to strategy execution eBook: Read how companies like Danaher and HP have mastered strategy execution and what you can learn from them.
- What role does a Strategy Realization Office play in your strategy execution?: Learn how you can govern your strategy execution with the emerging concept of the Strategy Realization Office (SRO)
- 13 ways to make your team care about goals: Try these 13 ideas for getting your team to buy into your goals, and create real accountability for delivering targets.
About the author
Sam Ancliff is the Demand and Lead Generation Manager at i-nexus.
In his role, his drive is to provide leaders with the tools and insights they need to make next-level decisions in their businesses and organizations.