Objectives are one of the key outputs of the strategic planning process. Your team’s strategic planning discussions accomplish three broad results.
First and foremost are your strategies:
Strategies are your sense of vision as to the course and direction of the company. What will you do in each of your market segments – your core businesses? Select one of five options (expand, maintain, contract, milk or withdraw) for each market strategy. Select a competitive strategy for each market segment (specialty or commodity, mass market or niche).
What new things will you do outside of your core businesses? This could include new products or services. You could also consider new capabilities to expand your ability to improve your current or new products or services. Expanding into new territories or new markets, etc. is a possibility. Finally, think about how you could develop and improve your organization and your people.
Next your team sets the objectives which come from your strategy.
Objectives are specific, significant, achievable, challenging, measurable, time-related statements of intended future results the accomplishment of which will lead to the attainment of the strategies. It is essential that the objectives be focused on the strategy in order to prevent irrelevant activities. Do not write objectives for “business as usual”. Be careful that your objectives are stated as results rather than activities. There should be no more than 8-10 objectives. It is better to have too few than too many.
Objectives may arise from many different parts of the discussions that make up the analysis that results in the overall plan. Frequently they arise from your discussions of strategic issues. Those are issues which affect the overall course and direction of the organization. They may encompass new activities necessary to enable your strategies to be implemented and executed.
Write structured action plans for each of your objectives. Then develop budgets and schedules to show available time and money.
Action Plans are what translate objectives into results. Use the action plan template to identify the necessary actions, the people involved and the time and money required. After developing budgets and schedules, starting with the highest priority action plan, fill in start and completion dates for each step applying the available time and money.
With monthly monitoring sessions, the entire strategic planning team will be kept informed of action plan progress.
The action plan team will thereby be more likely to stay on track and to meet their commitments. Experience has taught us that merely setting objectives results in about 20% of objectives being completed. By writing an action plan but not assigning responsibilities or dates, the completion rate increases to about 50%. When a company follows and monitors its action plans, it completes at least 80-90% of its objectives on time and within budget.
If your team needs guidance to effectively select and plan your objectives and to execute your action plans, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 616-575-3193. Consider holding an inexpensive one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning.
M. Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com