Changing the Way the World Thinks about Strategy
Strategic Planning Steps

Strategic Planning Steps

Its important to follow a few basic strategic planning steps to build team commitment.  When your team gets together to initiate/update your strategic plan, what is everyone looking to get out of the process? Naturally, nearly everyone has their own personal interests and perceived needs and wants. How do you merge their individual approaches with the best possible results for your organization?

CSSP starts with an introduction which lays out the strategic planning steps to develop an effective plan.

We build understanding of the process by going through a few exercises which encourage everyone to use a common vernacular. The team does this so everyone knows what others mean by their language. We lay out the basic questions which define a good strategic plan.

What are we going to sell?

To whom are we going to sell it?

How do we beat or avoid the competition?

Everything in strategic planning contributes to determining the best possible answers to these questions. We should do this with enough detail to guide the team toward reaching effective strategies that are actionable and appropriate.

Following the introduction, we make sure everybody is committed to the strategic planning steps we intend to use.

Next the team looks into the traditional areas of market segments, competition, etc. to establish the basis for planning. First we address the core business, as this area is the main thrust of the enterprise’s sustainability and profitability. We look both backward and forward in our analyses of each market segment. Looking back helps us understand the recent history of the organization. This establishes the foundation on which we will build our future. Looking forward, we  determine how attractive each segment will be in the future, and how strong a competitor we are. By doing this, we determine what strategies to apply to each segment.

We also are looking to improve current products/services, allowing us to improve output of products/services and to reduce costs.

This exercise allows team members to contribute their personal agenda ideas as well as opportunities which can improve the whole organization. The team will discuss each idea, filter each through a simple set of tests and pare down the list quickly.

Strategic Issues is one of the most important factors in good strategic planning.

When discussing these key issues, everyone’s ideas are needed. We do this so we can reach consensus on the optimal course and direction, based on everyone’s input. The quality of discussion and decisions that the team makes, determine the value of the strategic plan.

Strategies are developed next, with core business strategies getting the highest priorities in most cases.

This is because our core businesses are the key to sustainability of the organization. After you discuss the core business segments, the next category is new products and services.  It is important to innovate and to upgrade your offerings to remain competitive.  Thus, you need to do this in the context of the overall performance of the company. You may introduce a new service/product, but if you ignore your core business you could be in trouble.   What new things are we going to pursue to keep us relevant in the market place? How do we maintain or increase our market share by bringing on new products/services?

After selecting strategies in core segments, and prioritizing new products/services, look inside the company to see what needs improvement.

What do we need to improve in our infrastructure? How can we build up and support our people? Finally, how large do we want to grow, and how soon?

Finally, execution of the plan involves assigning the right people and giving them the responsibility for executing our strategies. Execution of strategies and action plans are keys to ongoing success. This is the subject for another article.  If you need help getting to this point in your planning, I can help. Please contact me at: or 616-575-3193.  Consider holding an inexpensive one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning.

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To learn how to gain alignment between business units, click here.

M. Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at:

Author, M. Dana Baldwin

Author, M. Dana Baldwin

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