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Why A Strategic Plan Is Important

As consultants, we work with a variety of businesses across a number of industries. In reviewing the performance of these organizations, it is always interesting to note that those businesses that perform at the highest levels have some sort of formalized strategic plan in place and have implemented it well. On the other hand, those businesses that struggle have no plan in place and seem to flounder in their attempts to be successful.

In order for a business to be successful, there needs to be a roadmap for success. A strategic plan helps to provide direction and focus for all employees. It points to specific results that are to be achieved and establishes a course of action for achieving them. A strategic plan also helps the various work units within an organization to align themselves with common goals.

Arguably, the leading cause of business failure is not having a strategic plan in place that is being well implemented. If a business has little idea where it is headed, it will wander aimlessly with priorities changing constantly and employees confused about the purpose of their jobs.

Building a strategic plan is not difficult. It will take some thought and some feedback from customers and others, but businesses should be routinely garnering feedback from appropriate consituent groups on an ongoing basis. The process of developing a strategic plan should be rewarding for all involved and usually helps develop stronger communications between members of the planning team.

Once developed, the key to making the plan work is a commitment to seeing it through and sound implementation. Many businesses have developed strategic plans only to put them on a shelf to gather dust. Managers need a well developed strategic plan in order to effectively establish expectations for their employees. Without a plan, expectations are developed in a void and there is little or no alignment with common goals. A good strategic plan looks out 2 to 5 years and describes clearly how the business will grow and prosper over that planning horizon.

Take a look at your business. Does there seem to be a lack of focus on where the company is headed? Does everyone clearly understand the goals for the business? Strategically, how will the business achieve those goals? Is your current planning horizon longer than one year? Are you developing annual business/operating plans without a strategic plan in place? A strategic plan should drive operating plans.

To develop a strategic plan, establish a planning team that includes employees, managers, owner(s) and customers. The team should be held to 10 to 12 people. There are a number of steps involved in the process and it requires excellent facilitation to keep things on track. If you need detailed instruction about how to develop a strategic plan, visit our sister site, There you can order your copy of the widely used Strategic Planning Workbook which provides detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to develop your strategic plan.

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