Strategic Plan Overview

Strategic Plan Overview


The purpose of strategic planning is to set the overall goals for an organization for the next five (5) years and to develop a plan to achieve them.  The strategic planning process results in a presentation and/or document which identifies on a high level basis where the organization is going and why it is going there.

Every major organization and successful small ones have some form of a strategic plan, either formally or informally developed.

The plan does not have a required format or development process, but there is generally an agreement on the major components. Wikipedia provides a description of the various components with information sources.  A quick, basic description of a simple strategic plan can be found here.  

Participants and Time Commitment

The head of an organization and his/her direct reports should participate in the strategic planning exercise.  It is important that the senior management team know what the plan is and ‘buys’ into it.  The size of an organization and the state of the current strategic plan determines the length of time needed to create and/or update an existing strategic plan.  For large organizations it will require at least two (2) days, preferably offsite with a minimum of interruptions and distractions.  For small organizations and existing strategic plans, creation and/or update will need half to one full day to complete the exercise.


The exercise should be done at least once a year.  Current status and revision updates can be done quarterly by the organization’s leader or his/her designee.  If there are major revisions or deviations from the existing strategic plan, it is important to review and revise the plan with the entire management team.

Business Plan?

A business plan defines how an organization will operate on a day to day business.  It is primarily done for the entire organization and not plans for specific departments.  Individual departments can create a strategic plan, but typically operational plans and budgets that guide and define their operations.

While a strategic plan defines where and why an organization is going, business and operational plans define how you get there.

Strategic Plan Sections

A strategic plan can be divided into four (4) sections:

  1. Organization Foundation: Mission, vision, purpose, core values
  2. Environmental Analysis: Customer, staff, resources, dependancies, SWOT/SOAR/SVOR
  3. Goals: Big hairy audacious goal (BHAG), hedgehog (future desires), transformative activities/events, value proposition, brand promise
  4. Tactical Plans: Key goals/metrics 1, 3, 5 years with key capabilities
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