• Timothy Osborn

Steps to forming your strategic plan!

Strategic planning is a specific and purposeful effort to form directives, goals and objectives for any organization. Knowing how to approach the strategic planning process can provide keen insight into launching a business, expanding your current focus or evolving your organization with laser-focused precision.

Vision and mission statements are key elements upon which a strategic plan can be built; and, goals can be designed for future organizational effort and impact because of these guiding statements. A clearly defined vision statement articulates where an organization is going and how it will get there. The mission statement further discusses what an organization does and who they are. In many cases, core values elaborate more deeply the purpose and pursuit of the organization in it's performance of service, culture, employee engagement, and connecting with consumers.

In a recent McKinsey Quarterly survey of nearly 800 executives, "just 45 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the strategic-planning process. Moreover, only 23 percent indicated that major strategic decisions were made within its confines." Considering these results, many managers are often tempted to jettison the planning process altogether.

"The development of an organizational strategy provides a long-term road map for an organization, and is vitally important in the light of current uncertain economic circumstances. The strategy statements provide the bedrock for the entire organization to create and execute tactics for viable future business, prioritize goals, and allocate and coordinate resources." (Varkey & Bennett, 2010). It can be stated that strategic planning appears to be grossly underutilized and strategic analysis and formation processes need to be embraced, engaged and employed for effective and proficient growth and sustainability.

Steps to forming a strategic plan!

1. Define the vision for the strategic plan and how that vision aligns with the organization's current vision, mission statements and core values. Leaders and executive teams need to inspire motivation and create a sense of urgency for the strategic planning processes that will be required as part of the strategy analysis and formation. Consider key influencers within the organization and how those individuals can collaborate and participate in the processes that will be initiated as part of the journey. Garner buy-in and engage expertise, insight, contribution and team building principles and methodologies.

2. Begin the strategic analysis process purposefully. Set clear objectives to the team and instruct everyone to be thorough, accurate, data driven and comprehensive. Have the team complete a market summary based upon a formal SWOT analysis. Identify the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Consider competitors within the market, market trends, consumer desires, data analytics and market penetration from previous results. Consider both internal and external data to allow for examination of capabilities and vulnerabilities.

3. Strategy formation considers the results of the SWOT analysis including assessments and observations indicating where action should be taken. For example, identifying differentiators for the organization to win the marketplace, vehicles to get there, arenas in which the organization will be actively competitive, and staging the sequence or speed of the implementation plan. Economic logic determines how the organization will obtain returns. The formulation of strategy is best carried out by the executive team with support, assistance, input and collaboration of the management team.

5. Establishing SMART goals as a result of the strategic planning process, along with assigning the implementation of the plan to the management team, includes assuring that goals are Specific (simple, sensible, significant), Measurable (meaningful, motivating), Achievable (agreed, attainable), Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based), and Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).Lastly, monitor, manage and assess progress toward goals to assure implementation is accomplished according to plan, accountability is nurtured and corrective action is taken if needed. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!

As mentioned in Varkey & Bennett (2010), challenges to the strategic planning process do exist and consideration for such should include:

  • An inordinate amount of time spent on analysis without reaching the primary goal to reach a strategyThe strategic planning becoming too operational versus visionary

  • Too lengthy a process, such that participants lose interest and momentum

  • Not involving the right people in the planning process

  • Not creating measures to evaluate success of goals and objectives

Organizations often consider and employ management consultants to assist in facilitating the strategic planning process and to help review, compile and create the formal strategic plan being adopted for implementation. The management consultants at The Osborn Group, LLC specialize in strategic planning methods and would love to provide additional insight, support, and guidance should your organization be considering developing a comprehensive strategic plan.

(C) Copyright 2019 - The Osborn Group, LLC - All rights reserved. Sharing is permitted and appreciated.

About the Author - Timothy G. Osborn is the Senior Consultant/Founder at The Osborn Group, LLC where "We build top talented teams to enhance and create next level solutions as a management consulting firm for business operations, learning & development,  human resources, marketing, customer/employee engagement, brand development, talent acquisition, startup advisory services, strategic planning and managed services."

Our motto: "Expect exceptional experiences every time!"

#leadership, #strategicplanning, #businesstrategy, #strategicformation, #goals, #goalsetting, #businessplanning


Varkey, Prathibha, MD,M.P.H., M.H.P.E., & Bennet, K. E. (2010). Practical techniques for strategic planning in health care organizations. Physician Executive, 36(2), 46-8. (Includes diagram above in the body of the article).

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