Arguably, a leading cause of business failure is not having any type of strategic plan. If a business has little idea where it is headed, it will wander aimlessly without priorities, changing constantly, and with employees confused about the purpose of their jobs. This is why corporate strategic planning is critical to business success, even if the planning process takes time and resources.
1) Strategic planning provides clarity, direction, and focus for your organization.
The primary purpose of strategic planning is to connect the organization’s mission and vision by addressing these three questions:
- What is our purpose? (Mission)
- What do we want to achieve? (Vision)
- How are we going to get there? (Plan)
Perhaps the most obvious reason to engage in corporate strategic planning is that it provides direction and focus by way of a written document. Having a clearly articulated mission and vision enables the company to develop a strategic plan that is a literal roadmap for success. Confusion and day-to-day business fires are often reasons why strategic planning yields little results, but these risks can be mitigated by having a plan that is written down, with clear assignments, dues dates, and deliverables, so that employees know what must be executed by when.
2) A strategic plan drives organizational alignment.
A strategic plan isn’t just a document to keep everyone on track. Having everyone participate in the strategic planning process fosters collegiality and creates an opportunity for discussion on the direction of the organization, which is why strategic planning often results in cultural transformation. In addition, the process promotes the open and creative exchange of ideas, including resolving disputes and working out effective solutions.
Most organizations have hard-working employees who put their best efforts into areas that have no effect on strategic success or accomplishing important goals and objectives. Having employees involved in the strategic planning process not only ensures everyone is on the same page when the execution phase of the planning process begins, but also that employees will be able to make better decisions and execute in the best interests of the plan and plan goals. This is why corporate strategic planning serves as the vehicle for answering the question, “How can we better align all our resources to maximize our strategic success?”
3) A plan communicates your message.
Even if you have strong mission and vision statements, most leaders walk around with a virtual strategy locked in their heads. The CEO inherently knows the organization’s strategic direction and the tactics that need to be executed. Unfortunately, if the strategy isn’t down on paper, or if only a small handful of people know the priorities articulated by the strategy, then the likelihood that the strategy is executed effectively is greatly diminished. This is why strategic planning is so important – serves as a communications vehicle for what must be done to create short- and long-term sustainability.