7 Steps You Need to Take to Develop a Strategic Plan…And You’ve Already Done One of Them

I had been hired by the tourism department of a large Native American Tribal government to help them develop a strategic plan. They had a largish budget and had raised the visibility of tribal lands and attractions but there was no rhyme or reason. They engaged public relations firms and bought airtimes and ads on whims.

So we met and for the period of two days we worked through the process of developing some systematic strategy for reaching the department’s objectives, for marching toward the vision. As the intervention concluded, a follow up meeting was scheduled. The participants then retreated to their respective offices.

At the follow-up meeting I discovered that no one had retreated to their office or cubicle to work on plans or schedules to implement the strategic plan. No, indeed. They had retreated there to write a report on our meeting. The scheduled follow-up meeting was the occasion to discuss the reports written about the previous meeting. Their forward movement had become a backward look. I wish I could report that the follow-up rehashing of the previous meeting was a one-off event, but it wasn’t. It seems they preferred reports over action, a paralysis that afflicts many organizations.

Strategic plans are a bit like vision statements. They tend to get momentary hype and visibility then die a slow death in someone’s file cabinet. Look at W.T. Grant, Minnie Pearl’s Fried Chicken, or Branff Airlines. All three companies are gone and, at the time of their demise, all three had 3 common factors – they didn’t manage the company strategy, the corporate organizational policy did not function, and they perpetuated failure until it was completely fatal.

Contrast that with IBM which has undergone considerable transformation since its beginning as a business machines company. General Electric, Xerox, Mazda, and IBM all share the opposite 3 factors – effectively managed strategic planning, a corporate organizational policy that works, and success.

There are 7 steps for developing your strategic plan…and you’ve already done the first one (or at least you should have by now).

  1. Develop your vision statement.
  2. Develop and define your values.
  3. Examine and assess your situation.
  4. Develop and define goals.
  5. Develop, define, and schedule objectives (they are not the same as goals as I will explain).
  6. Develop the devices, systems, processes, and methods for achieving objectives and reaching goals.
  7. Develop and implement a feedback loop to systematically  evaluate progress, highlight problems, and implement solutions

See there, nothing exotic or excruciating. You’ve already done the first one because I’ve been discussing it for several days. I’ll begin with Step #2 on Thursday.

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