Strategic Planning Process Steps

Strategic Planning Process Steps

Proper strategic planning process steps are necessary for the long-term success of an organization

The results should guide the future course and direction of the company, and attain success as defined by the management.

What are the important steps in good strategic planning?

Market Segments

One of the first significant subjects the team analyzes is markets and customers, or market segments. These segments are usually defined by the products and/or services sold to various types of customers, clients and users. They define where the organization competes for business. Another is competitive analysis. This section provides an in-depth look at key competitors and where and how the business competes with different competitors.

Strengths and Weaknesses

We look into the strengths and weaknesses of the business, so that we can understand our critical strengths and weaknesses. We look for a sustainable competitive advantage, so we can beat or avoid competition.


Assumptions are kept separate from facts. They are temporary estimates of likely future events and developments that would have a significant impact on our business and over which we have no control.  We look at possible future directions for our market segments and our competition’s actions.

External and Internal Opportunities

We brainstorm perceived external and internal opportunities, then put these ideas through filters to eliminate those which simply don’t fit. From those which remain, we assess their future value and impacts on the organization. We then prioritize them into what should be the best opportunities for us.

Industry Scenario and Winner’s Profile

We predict what our industry will look like in five to ten years.  Then we build a Winner’s Profile built upon the industry scenario.  This is the starting point for our Core Business Strategy.

Strategic Issues

These are major questions which affect the future course and direction of the organization and are begging decisions. We list, then prioritize, then discuss. Here is where the first real decisions are made about our strategies. After a quick reality check on decisions just made, we determine our strategies in our core businesses and new opportunities. We select what new things we want to do to improve competitive situation, our infrastructure and our people.


We discuss our commitments to the organization: Mission Statement, Goals and Objectives. Mission Statement is our public representation of our values and our vision for the future. Goals are internal measures of how we define success. Objectives are the intended results that support our Mission, Goals and Objectives.

Action Plans

We develop action plans to translate our objectives into results.  They lay out the specific actions required, the people involved, the necessary time and money and the timeline.  From the action plans we know the resources required (time and money).  We then develop budgets and schedules to provide those resources, to gauge the effectiveness of these projects, and to report on progress in financial terms. Finally, we establish a process for monitoring our action plans to assure they stay on schedule.


There are important intangibles that arise from the process.  Better understanding of each other’s situation and needs is one result. Another is the buy-in that team members get from going through the process and being a part of the team itself. A third intangible is the feeling that most get from being a part of the team. They get to see the interdependence of the various parts of the organization. They see how all must pull in the same direction to get the optimal results.


The final ingredient is having good plan development leadership. This means someone who can keep the team on track and on time–a process leader/catalyst. Someone with the experience to guide, but not influence the results of the planning process. Process leadership is our forte.  We provide this leadership effectively and efficiently, having many years of experience in leading teams in many different industries. Contact me at 616-575-3193 or at, and let’s talk about how I can help you develop a better strategic plan.

Do you follow the above strategic planning process steps?  Consider holding an inexpensive one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning.

In-house Workshop

For more on strategic planning, 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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