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A strategic plan is meant to answer these important questions:

1. Destination – Where do I want to lead my business?
2. Beginning – Where are we standing right now?
3. Journey – How will we manage to get there?
4. Checkpoints- How will I know if I’m succeeding?

strategic planning models

A good strategic plan will address each of these questions and provide clear answers for readers of the plan – be they employees, business partners, investors, or other stakeholders. Let’s take a look at the 5 key elements of a strategic plan that will help us to answer those questions:

1. A Vision

No surprises here – we need to start off by defining our vision for the organization (the destination). We’ve written extensively about how to write the perfect vision statement, so do check out those posts for more detail, but we can’t emphasize enough how critical a vision is for your organization. Your vision will help you to:

a. Bring alignment to your organization, where people will unify their efforts towards a common goal, driving increased efficiency
b. Create goals which are cohesive and focused
c. Inspire employees, investors and other stakeholders to invest in your business both emotionally and commercially
d. Creating a vision statement is the obvious starting point for defining your overall vision. But you may also want to consider creating a mission statement too. A mission statement differs from a vision statement as follows:

A vision statement defines where you want to be in the future. A mission statement defines broadly how you will get there (part of your journey). The focus is on how they will achieve their vision, and also act as the bedrock for the majority of their strategic goals and KPIs.

2. Core Values

Values really don’t get the credit they deserve! People often see them as throw-away and vacuous – more aimed at marketing the organization than guiding its true internal behaviors. But a well crafted set of values can be the difference between success and failure for your strategic plan. Check out this blog post for more detail, but in summary, core values help you to:

a. Assess your current state of what you do well and are capable of
b. Make better decisions by helping you to rule out courses of action that are not appropriate for your company
c. Recruit better people who share your beliefs and passions

A frank self-assessment of how you want your organization to behave is important. It should reflect the values of your very best people. Also, the values that have been essential to your success. A core value set is a critical component towards defining your starting point and your journey.

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3. Clearly Defined Outcomes

A strategic plan is nothing without a set of clearly defined outcomes. No-one will take your plan seriously unless you can clearly articulate what steps you are going to take to get there – and what success looks like for each of those steps.

Not all of your outcomes will be immediately quantifiable. But, when you define your outcomes, they should be =
[ Action + Detail + Metric + Unit + Deadline]

We often call them as SMART goals/objectives. Read more about it here.

4. Accountability

This is such a small detail, but it is also one of the key elements of a strategic plan that so many organizations fail to implement. A lack of accountability will absolutely destroy your strategy execution.

Defining your accountability will be a part of defining your journey. Ideally, the people responsible for a particular segment of your plan should also have been critical contributors to the plan itself. That’s the best way to drive engagement and to self-enforce accountability. VComply helps an organization to achieve this.

Simply state one single person who will have primary accountability for that outcome. It needs to be clear that the primary accountability sits with the one individual initially assigned to the outcome, and no-one else!

5. KPIs

It is the hardest of all the key elements of a strategic plan. But without KPIs, you won’t know until it’s too late about whether or not you’re succeeding as you head towards your vision. KPIs should relate to how well you’re delivering against the components of your mission or focus areas.

Don’t let setting KPIs to become harder than it needs to be – and you don’t need more than one or two KPIs for each of your focus areas. But you do need to ensure that your KPIs accurately reflect what success actually looks like for that focus area, and also that you’ll be able to accurately measure the KPI on a regular basis. Selecting the right KPIs is, therefore, one of the key elements of a strategic plan.

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