During the strategic planning process, an organization does three fundamental activities. They build or modify their foundational strategic vision and mission, commit to objectives or goals that drive the overall health of their organization, and develop a long-term plan to achieve those goals.
While the framework is a continuous cycle with learnings from each stage informing the next, developing a strategic plan is always the best place to start. This is the second in a 5-part blog series defining The Spur Group’s unique perspective on the often overlooked, but incredibly valuable world of business operations.
A strong strategic plan positions the organization for success and clearly defines what that looks like at every level. A common mistake we see is jumping right into tactical execution without first thinking through, communicating, and aligning on the overall goal of the strategic plan. Skipping these important steps can leave your organization without direction and cause it to struggle.
Our experts at The Spur Group have refined this art. In this blog we outline the 6 vital elements to successful strategic planning for your organization.
1. Define your vision
The vision statement of an organization is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the future – it is the goal.
It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. It is a definition of where you would like your organization to be. This is not a near-term milepost, but rather a far-off, future destination. It sets the tone of your organization and provides a North Star on the horizon for your organization to move toward.
Boeing offers a strong example of a vision statement here:
“Best in Aerospace and Enduring Global Industrial Champion.”
A lot of information is packed into that tiny statement. It’s obvious that their aspiration is to be the best aerospace company in the world. They also aspire to position the company as a leader of industry (not just aerospace) now and for the foreseeable future. This statement helps Boeing’s leadership focus their efforts in the right direction. A strong vision statement will do the same for your organization.
2. Create your mission
While your vision is an organization-wide goals and state of mind, your mission is the foundational purpose that backs up that vision.
Without a mission, your organization lacks the “why” of the vision. If everyone in your organization has their own interpretation of why they are pursuing the vision, it can lead to conflicting strategies and initiatives.
Focusing on Boeing again, they also offer a clear mission and purpose.
“Connect, Protect, Explore and Inspire the World through Aerospace .”
This short statement offers a perspective on why they want to achieve their vision of being the best aerospace company and a global industrial leader. It simultaneously offers high-level and actionable direction to the company’s leadership.
3. Set your objectives
Objectives are specific results that a person or system aims to achieve within a time frame and with
Defining what success looks like lets you know if you are on the path to achieve your mission and realize your vision. Clearly articulating your objectives creates goalposts for your organization that allow you to measure its overall health and the impact of strategic initiatives.
Boeing lists their 2025 objectives as:
- Market Leadership
- Top-quartile Performance and Returns
- Growth Fueled by Productivity
- Design, Manufacturing, Services Excellence
- Accelerated Innovation
- Global Scale and Depth
- Best Team, Talent and Leaders
- Top Corporate Citizen
These objectives are clear, measurable, and can be supported by a number of strategic initiatives across an organization. They allow their teams to understand if the work they are doing is impactful.
4. Develop your strategy
Your strategy is a long-term plan or plans that enables you to achieve your organization’s objectives.
Strategic plans might take 3-5 years, and there may be a separate plan for each objective you have identified for your organization. Effective strategies are critical to long-term success.
Strategies are much more specific than the vision, mission, and objectives, and are typically only shared within an organization.
One of Boeing’s stated objectives is “Best team, talent and leaders”. Based on this, one of their strategies may be to improve internal leadership training and implement practices to attract and retain top talent.
An effective strategy brings vision and execution together.
Ideally, a strategy is built around your organization’s needs and market context. It should map long-term visions to objectives and actionable steps, plan around obstacles, and foster innovative thinking.
An effective strategy should proactively identify potential pitfalls and include strong mitigations against them. Avoiding and quickly overcoming obstacles will prevent your initiatives from stalling and help ensure your objectives are achieved.
5. Outline your approach
An approach provides a methodology for executing your strategy.
An approach provides a framework for building tactics that address the strategy and guides an organization on how to execute their strategic plan.
Building on Boeing’s posited strategy of improving leadership training and implementing practices to attract and retain top talent, their approach may be to identify key leadership competencies, build and implement training that addresses these competencies, deliver the training, and track effectiveness. Identify, Build, Deliver, and Track.
6. Get down to tactics
The tactics are the final, and smallest pieces of a good strategic plan, but by no means the least necessary. Tactics are focused initiatives, projects, or programs that allow organizations to execute a strategic plan as defined by the approach.
Tactics are the key to execution, the actions that you actually take to make it all happen.
Returning to the Boeing example provided above, each step of the posited approach – identify, build deliver, and track – is a tactic executed within the framework of their approach, aligning to their strategy. Although they may not seem connected at first glance, with effective strategic planning, they can all be tied back to the strategy, objectives, mission, and vision, and ultimately drive success.
At The Spur Group, we believe that developing each of these elements lays the groundwork for your organization’s success. It aligns your team around a single purpose, identifies what success looks like, and breaks down the details on how your organization will achieve that success.
Check out the other blogs in the series