The 6 Essentials to Strategic Planning

More than just an overhyped buzzword, strategic planning gets to the core of your business and its success. According to Business Dictionary, strategic planning is, “A systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them.”

Sounds straightforward, right? Many of us, as key decision makers and leaders within our businesses, would argue that this is what we do on a daily basis. Successful strategic planning, however, does require a few essential ingredients that sometimes fall to the wayside as we get caught up in the running of our businesses.

Master these six aspects of strategic planning to reach your goals:

    1. Understand your “why.” In the book, The Trusted Advisor, the authors pose the idea that technical mastery of one’s discipline is not enough. The insightful book makes the argument that to gain the wealth and success of a business icon like Bill Gates, you have to care more about writing good code than about being rich. The deep understanding of, not just where you’re trying to go, but more importantly, why you’re trying to get there is a key aspect of strategic planning.
    2. Evaluate internal obstacles. Growth is great, but not without its challenges. Your strategic plan should work within limitations that avoid growth so rapid that your organization can’t withstand it. Assess capacity, resources and appetite for growth to ensure that your operational planning matches your strategic planning.
    3. Get buy-in. This is possibly the most important aspect of your strategic planning. One person (even if his/her title is CEO) cannot carry the torch for a company’s strategy. It’s mission-critical that your strategy has buy-in from top executives down to the boots on the ground. Make sure the people on your team are bought in to your vision and understand their role in achieving your organizational goals.
    4. Have a clear and quantifiable goal. The infamous business philosopher, Peter Drucker was quoted as saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Your strategy must have a goal clear enough to put into an elevator pitch and a metric to quantify its success.
    5. Bring it to life. Strategic planning needs internal marketing to succeed. Spend time and effort continuously reinforcing it in every internal discussion. Take routine steps back to evaluate your business, asking questions like: do I have the right people, skills, capabilities, systems and processes to support my vision?
    6. Measure it. Set milestones weekly, monthly and quarterly to monitor your strategic results are on track, pivoting as necessary. Be sure to celebrate wins and look for ways to overcome challenges that slow down progress.

Strategic planning is more than a mission statement or a to-do list; it’s the actual framework that will shape and affect all of your business decisions. By focusing on these six ingredients when developing your strategy, you will find that your day-to-day activities will support and propel this strategy forward or you’ll learn through measurement and review that you shouldn’t be doing them!

Valve+Meter specializes in assisting businesses of all sizes in a multitude of industries to develop a strategic plan that can help them succeed. Our team is standing by to learn more about your goals and help create the framework to achieving them.

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Chris Ruley
Chris Ruley
Vice President of Strategy

Christopher Ruley is the Vice President of Strategy with Valve + Meter Performance Marketing. He has a passion for achieving results and measuring performance to deliver tangible outcomes. Christopher has more than 15 years experience developing and leading business strategies across a variety of verticals and sizes.