After you ask that all-important question, "Where do you want to go?" there is always one that naturally follows: "What would it take to get there?"
Note that the way the question is crafted is optimistic. We didn't ask: "Is this really possible? What are all the things that stand in our way? What if we fail?"
Imagine that our goal is the summit of a mountain, and your team of rock climbers (strategic rock climbers?) must examine the face of the mountain to see which route will best get us there.
By keeping this next question deliberately open, we lead our strategic planning team to open their minds and think more creatively about all the paths, however ambitious, that could possibly lead to our goal. We focus on possibilities, not impediments. Save the talk of impediments for later on in the process!
The idea of a strategic plan can be huge and intimidating. You might wonder - how do I get from zero to detailed, actionable plan?
Success lies in knowing which questions to ask, and when. Good strategic planning professionals don't start at the beginning - they start at the end.
Your first question to your client should always be: "Where do you want to go?" Ask the client(s) to paint a detailed picture of where they would like their company to be.
By starting at the end, you have a destination in mind. It's much easier to map out a strategic plan with a clear destination than a fuzzy one.
What exactly is strategic planning?
Strategic planning is the process of defining and documenting where you want to go, developing an implementation plan with specific activities, and determining your metrics of success, all while considering your resources and challenges.
Why would we need a strategy?
If you’re wondering if you even need a strategy, the answer is: you already have one. Every business already has some sort of a strategy, whether it’s a vague idea confined to the owner’s head or a thorough written strategic plan well-known by everyone in the organization. Your organization will benefit many times over by taking the time to do it right and developing a strategic plan from start to finish using an industry-standard method, like the Strategic Planning Institute’s MARKET Method™, to think through each step and to produce a strategic plan which helps guide your organization.
In fact, strategic planning saves you time in the long term - since you have already thought through your priorities, approaches, and activities, you can make decisions more quickly and trim activities and busy work that are not contributing toward your goals.
Training Director Michelle and the SPI community share advice and respond to real strategic communications quandaries.