By Denise Harrison

Strategic Planning Expert
Denise Harrison

In today’s fast paced economy, we often find that executives think that they don’t have the time to reflect on their business.  While quick decision-making is important, taking the time to reflect on the possible choices and looking at long-term implications will set your business on a course to achieve long-term success.

Reflection: What does this mean?

There are three areas that we often find are missing when teams develop a strategic plan:

  1. Discussion of topics for research
  2. Collection of research in a consistent format
  3. Analysis tools that help the team think through what is the best use of the company’s resources

Topics for Research

Many teams have a two to three-day retreat to develop a strategy; this is a good time for team building and gets ideas out on the table.  But if your strategic planning is done during this retreat, we often find that the team does not have all the information to make good decisions.  Our recommendation is a more-robust three-step process:

  1. Situation Analysis

Select the topics that require further research (markets, competition, opportunities, etc.)  Selecting these topics and then developing research allows the team to have better information for decision making when they get to the next step.

  1. Strategy Formulation

Review the information to have a shared base of knowledge and make decision based on this information. Now you can select the strategies and the strategic initiatives that are most likely to position your company for future success. Take the time to develop action plans for your strategic initiatives so that you know what steps need to be undertaken, who is responsible and how much time and money each step will take.

  1. Implementation

Vet the action plans to ensure that accomplishing the steps will achieve the objective and assess whether the company has sufficient talent and financial resources to accomplish the task set out in the action plans.

This three-step process allows your company to reflect on the correct topics to research.  Once the research is completed, the team can reflect on the information gathered to make informed decisions concerning the future direction of the company.

Consistent Format

After you select the topics for research and develop the research, it is important that the information is collected in a consistent format.  Having templates that aid in consistent information development allows for better analysis as your team develops its strategy.  For example, without a consistent format, you will get different information regarding opportunities to be researched and this will make it hard to compare options because the data is inconsistent.


Once you have reviewed the research and the team has a shared base of knowledge, it is important to use analytical tools to assess where the best opportunities lie in your business. Tools include the Growth/Share matrix (often associated with Jack Welch) to assess which of your core business should get the most emphasis.  Analytical tools pull out the key variables and help the team better understand the information that has been gathered.

If you would like to learn more about a structured process, with templates for research and analytical tools to help digest the information please call or email me: Denise Harrison, 910-763-5194 or

To learn how to take your strategic planning to the next level, please listen to our webinar:  Why Isn’t My Strategic Plan Working?.

For a discussion on doing strategic planning in one day, click here.

Denise Harrison is a senior consultant for the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  She can be reached at

© Copyright 2017 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

six + nine =