In my previous post, I discussed the first three questions that every organization must answer in order to build a solid foundation for developing a sound strategic plan. In this post, I will address the remaining four questions, which are focused more on the goals, strategies, and actions that must be undertaken in order to propel the organization to a new level of performance and results.
QUESTION #4: WHICH AREAS ARE MOST IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW?
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” -Michael Porter
The answer to this question will help you develop strategic “themes” — broad areas of emphasis where you want to focus your efforts. Things like customer service, marketing and advertising, growth and innovation, organizational culture, etc. The themes will vary based on your organization–themes for a business will be very different from those at a church.
The key is that themes tie directly to who you are, where you are going, and what your current situation is. If they don’t flow from those three components, then you will be out of alignment. Try to identify no more than four themes.
QUESTION #5: WHAT DO WE WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” -Earl Nightingale
The next section of your plan is developing goals and objectives that are in alignment with your strategic themes. Here, less is more. Don’t create a long list of goals and objectives. Use the following guide to help you:
- Goals should be broad and long-term in nature (no more than three years).
- Objectives should be specific and short-term (one year or less).
The goals need to be significant and challenging. The objectives need to be focused an attainable. Think of it like this: achieving your short-term objectives should help bring you closer to achieving your long-term goals.
QUESTION #6: HOW WILL WE MEASURE SUCCESS?
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t change it.” -Peter Drucker
The last step before implementation involves developing key metrics that will enable you to evaluate your plan. Otherwise, how will you know if you’re successful? The only way to know is to have something you can measure. The metrics, or key performance indicators, need to align directly with the goals and objectives.
QUESTION #7: WHAT ACTIONS WILL WE TAKE?
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” -Vince Lombardi
The final question will you help you identify the actions that you need to take in order to implement your plan. You have the foundation and the direction for where you’re going; now you need to get there. In this section, you need to develop both strategies and tactics. What’s the difference?
- Strategies are broad and provide general direction for the activities that will be undertaken and the resources that need to be allocated in relation to your strategic themes.
- Tactics are very specific actions that you will take in response to the strategies you have identified.
Think of your themes, goals, and objectives as “what” you are striving for, and the strategies and tactics as “how” you will get there.
“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” -Samuel Johnson
The seven strategic questions that have been outlined in these two posts are not a silver bullet or magic formula. They are common sense questions that, when properly answered and implemented, can have a significant impact on your organization. They can provide you with the clarity that you need in order to take your performance to a higher level, to become more focused on doing what only you can do, and to do it with excellence.
You know what to do — now go do it!