|It needs to address very specific questions:
- What is our company’s vision?
- What is our mission?
- Who are our customers and what exactly do they want to buy?
- Who are our competitors and how do we stack up against them?
- What are the agents of change that will affect our customers and our competitors in the future?
- Are we able to meet our customers’ needs today? Are we prepared for future change?
- What are we best at doing?
- Is it consistent with our mission?
- Is everything we do aligned with our vision?
I know my business needs a Strategic Plan, but who has the time to do it?
As with anything worthwhile, a good strategic plan does take time. But most of what goes into a strategic plan are things you already know. The main thing is to get the process started.
Because you’re busy, you need a strategic plan format that is efficient, flexible and interactive. Strategic planning is an ongoing process, so the format must allow for information to be captured, shared, and updated in real time.
The One-Hour Strategic Plan
To get a very basic strategic plan developed within a sixty-minute timeframe, you need to be prepared to maximize the time allotted. For the best results, take the following steps in advance:
- Make sure that the key people who guide your company’s direction are present. If your organization comprises only you or a couple of business partners, you might want to invite one or more people whose business acumen you respect to join.
- Outline your meeting and share your agenda with all participants in advance. Let them know you’ll be seeking their input and ask them to be ready to contribute.
- Use a conference room with a projector so you can build your strategic planning document in real time. If attendees are remote, use an online meeting platform such as WebEx® or GoToMeeting®.
- Watch your time and stick with your agenda. Avoid getting into too much detail – limit this meeting to big-picture thinking. Details can be added later.
Begin with a Written Agenda
We’ve created an agenda for our meeting using a SmartDraw mind map, shown below. The five major topics of discussion are indicated and we’ve set a time limit for each one. This agenda will be emailed to each attendee in advance of the meeting and will be ready on our projector when they arrive.
SmartDraw has the automation and ease of use to allow your entire team to quickly create ALL of the visuals required for smart and effective strategic planning.
Vision and Mission
Your company may already have vision and mission statements. If so, you should evaluate them to make sure they are still appropriate and make changes as necessary.
These are very important components and may require more than 15 minutes of discussion. But keep to your purpose–to create a basic strategic plan in an hour. You can always go back later and make additions or changes to it.
The next major area is discussion of goals. Because of our self-imposed time limit, we have allocated only 10 minutes for discussion of goals. This demands that the discussion be kept to only the most important of our company’s goals. For Acme Printing, three major goals were indentified, one of which has three subcategories.
As shown below, we are transforming our agenda document into a strategic plan. We have now added our major goals along with vision and mission statements.
To have an effective strategic plan, it’s important to be brutally honest about your company and its competitive environment. Only through a realistic assessment of these areas can you develop a valid plan for your organization’s future.
In performing this analysis, you may indentify areas of weakness that need to be either improved or eliminated. Perhaps your company has unique strengths that are not being fully utilized. Shifting conditions in the economy or your specific industry may be revealing opportunities you should pursue or threats that need to be hit head on or avoided entirely.
As we work through our SWOT analysis we continue building our mind map in real time and now have a visual that looks like this.
Final Step: Formulate a Strategy
We now have the basic framework needed to move into the final phase of the strategy plan. For Acme Printing, this will involve outlining an operating plan. Because the operating plan includes a number of items, we linked it to a new visual, shown below.
Thanks to the power of SmartDraw, we have created the basic framework of a strategic plan for Acme Printing during the course of a one-hour meeting.
You’ll note that the visuals created are very easy to read and understand. The information flows from left to right and from top to bottom, just as we are trained to read.
Using visuals for communicating information is as much as six times more effective than using words alone. So not only are these visuals easy to create and read, they also offer your audience a considerably higher rate of comprehension.
While these are reasons enough to use SmartDraw to help you develop your strategic plan, we’ve only scratched the surface of what a great visual processor can to for your company.
Implementation and Progress Tracking
The mind map above showing your operating plan can be converted into a project chart simply by changing the view. Clicking this icon allows you to turn your strategic plan into a working document showing timelines and also allowing tasks to be assigned to individuals.
In the project view, you can form a clear plan with dates and responsibilities.
This visual operating plan document serves a dual purpose:
- The mind map view clearly shows the relationship of near term objectives to strategic goals and is a very effective way of communicating the essence of the strategy to the entire company.
- The project view allows management to track and manage the work being done to implement the plan.
Not only have you created a strategic plan, but you now have transformed it into a working plan with tangible tasks, assignments and deadlines.
A Roadmap to Success – in One Hour
Unfortunately, too many business people are overwhelmed by the seemingly complex nature of the strategic planning process. The bottom line is twofold: get started and keep it simple. An hour-long strategic planning meeting, capturing information in real time, allows you to build the framework your business needs to succeed. The best way to do that is with visual strategic planning using SmartDraw.
One-Click Microsoft Office® Integration
Insert visuals in Word®, Excel®, and PowerPoint® documents with one click. SmartDraw is also SharePoint® enabled and imports Visio® files.
Click simple commands and SmartDraw builds your visual for you, automatically. Add or remove a shape and SmartDraw realigns and arranges all the elements so that everything looks great. You don’t need to be able to draw to use SmartDraw.
Dozens of professionally-designed strategic planning examples make you instantly productive. Simply choose the applicable template and customize it to suit your needs.
Get Started Now
Visual strategic planning for your company’s success is only a click away. Discover for yourself the powerful benefits of SmartDraw. Buy SmartDraw now and save $100!