A mantra of successful business is that “those who fail to plan are just planning to fail.” Below we will review the issues involved in strategic planning so that you can ask the right questions in the beginning of your process.

The 4 Stages of Strategic Planning

How to position?

Leading companies such as Apple did not start out as industry giants; they fought their way there over the prevailing products and notions of their larger (at the time) competitors. IBM completely ran the PC market until Apple upended it with a better strategic planning vision: simple reductionism instead of complicated expansion. To this day, the PC continues to be a computer that is always in need of driver updates and coding reworks. Apple computers are efficient, much faster and more stable precisely because they stand alone.

Developing Strategy

You can begin developing a good plan of action as early as your strategic planning mission statement. The best business leaders in the world demand time to think about strategy, which is much more important than just looking busy. Whether you are talking to Bill Gates of Microsoft or Steve Jobs of Apple, you will find a man who finds the best plans in the solitude of planning, not just leaping into action at the first opportunity.

Strategic objectives are a child of assessing market position, unique product value adds and the skill set of the in house staff, so no two plans will be alike, even for similar companies. Top consultants and prominent CEOs will always consider these aspects of business very deeply when developing a plan of action forward.

Developing Plan

The short term tactics that come from a strategy should drill down into the more nuanced aspects of business. This is the stage in which top management should delegate strategic planning to sector experts and department heads with the precise experience to understand how to administrate and execute. However, the best department heads and second line management will understand how to fit the plan of a department into a larger plan. It is essential that all departments are on the same page when these smaller plans are implemented.

Performance Management

The final step in proper business strategy is the management of performance, both departmental and overall. Strategy implementation without a purpose helps no one, and the performance metrics that you set at the beginning of the process will also have an effect on the type of strategy that you employ down the line. 

Performance management means setting up a system for individual analysis, such as an objective gamification system for ground level employee performance. However, it also requires company-wide analysis as well, filtered through the performance of C-level employees and the departments that they are responsible for. Checks and balances must be incorporated from the top down in order to feel valid within a company culture.