Strategy and Planning


Getting on the Same Page Through Strategic Planning.

Everyone who owns or works in a business wants something out of it. And everyone has some sort of a plan in mind to get it, whether it’s consciously chosen or not. The question is whether the conscious and unconscious plans of all employees together work toward meeting a common goal.

The First Business Strategy Challenge

What, exactly, is a strategy? Richard P. Rumelt, in his book, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters says the core content of a strategy has three parts:

  1. A diagnosis of the situation at hand.
  2. The creation or identification of a guiding policy for dealing with the critical difficulties.
  3. A set of coherent actions.

There are many outlines for strategic plans. The key is to make sure whatever format you use, the plan contains the three parts listed above.

The Second Business Strategy Challenge

This challenge is about meshing all the individual goals and plans of employees and management to synchronize the work of implementing the organization’s strategy. If there isn’t a living, breathing, central strategy and plan, then the lack of alignment across the company causes untold difficulties and wastes time, money, and effort.

Different Types of Business Plans

For all of the talk about planning, it can be confusing to figure out which of the different kinds of plans should be used in your situation. Which plan you start with is secondary to the fact that you, your team, and your company need at least one. The process of creating that plan will tell you whether you need a strategy (higher level) or coherent actions (implementation plan).

It may feel it’s more work than it’s worth to take your plan out of your head and put it on paper, especially if you are a company of one or just a few people. However, you significantly increase your chance of success with a written business plan. The thinking done to create the plan is the most valuable outcome of creating one.

The Strategic Plan

At its most basic, strategic planning determines where an organization is going, how it’s going to get there, and how it will know if it got there. The focus of this plan is usually the whole organization. Its most important function is telling everyone in the company (and key outsiders) why the chosen path is important for the company and for them.

If you are the CEO or business owner, deciding on the strategy and developing and overseeing its execution occupies a great deal of your time as you keep people on track towards the vision you have set for the business.

(Read more about how we can help you establish vision and strategy.)

The Business Plan

A business plan is driven by a strategy. Its focus is usually a product, service, or program. This plan is more detailed, often with one or more sets of specific, a.k.a, SMART, goals with action plans.

If yours is a much larger organization, a written business plan is essential, not an option. Its most critical function is as a communication tool used by everyone working toward the desired outcome. This plan helps people figure out—or at least gets them talking about—the answers to the six questions everyone wants to know: Who, What, When, Where, and How, and What’s Next. Then, when the project team encounters obstacles, the plan is the key tool that helps drive the solutions they need.

This plan is also where it’s good to get specific about what won’t be done. There are always more ideas than there are time and money to implement. If you or your team wants to do something that’s outside the business plan, you need to either change your mind or change the plan. If you do the latter, then you must also change related plans, like the marketing plan.

(Read more on how we can help you establish a business plan with goals and actions.)

The Marketing Plan

If there is one plan that is written, it’s usually this one. Marketing almost always costs money, so a plan is necessary to choose the most effective ways to find, connect with, educate, and communicate with suspects (just about everyone), prospects (those who have a specific need you can fill), and current and prior clients.

For many years, the 4 P’s of Marketing were the focus: Product, Place (Distribution), Price and Promotion. These were invented in 1960 by Jerome McCarthy. They were made leading-edge by Philip Kotler in his book Principles of Marketing in 1967.

In today’s world, the 4 Ps have changed into the 4 Es, as explained by Ogilvy & Mather, a world-class agency since its founding in 1968. Their view of the transformation is:

  • from Product to Experience
  • from Place to Everyplace
  • from Price to Exchange
  • from Promotion to Evangelism

Your marketing plan is what gives you the opportunity to sort through a vastly different world of consumerism, social media, relationship marketing, and much more.

(Read more on how how we help you create and implement plans to strengthen and grow your company.)

Nonprofit Versus For-Profit Strategic Planning

Let’s look at why nonprofits need strategic planning even though their goal isn’t to achieve a profit.

As explained by the Free Management Library web site:

  • Major differences in how organizations carry out the various steps and associated activities in the strategic planning process are more of a matter of the size of the organization — than its for-profit/nonprofit status.
  • Small nonprofits and small for-profits tend to conduct somewhat similar planning activities that are different from those conducted in large organizations.
  • On the other hand, large nonprofits and large for-profits tend to conduct somewhat similar planning activities that are different from those conducted in small organizations.
  • The focus of the planning activities is often different between for-profits and nonprofits. Nonprofits tend to focus more on matters of board development, fundraising and volunteer management. For-profits tend to focus more on activities to maximize profit.

(Read more on how we can help your nonprofit develop and use the plans it needs to strengthen its mission and serve its constituents.)

So, What Is The Next Step for YOU?

Contact us today for a complimentary initial consultation. We have helped large and small companies and nonprofits wrestle the issue of planning down to a manageable size and significantly improve their outcomes as a result.