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The Importance of Strategic Planning

This article originally appeared on M&I in 11/17

TL;DR: Having a strategic plan in place has proven to be extremely important. Performing one in-house is certainly possible, but can go awry fairly quickly. 

Where is your organization headed, and how do you plan to get there?

Albeit a simplified view, answering the question above is the purpose for drafting a strategic plan. Regardless of whether your company is large or small, new or well-established, creating and implementing a plan is incredibly important. According to research conducted by Boardview in 2016, 65% of the best strategy executors surveyed reported their financial performance was well above average, versus only 18% of all other companies. 

How to ensure the time invested in strategic planning pays off for your organization is a challenge shared by many. In 2018, Gartner surveyed executives and their teams, and found their ratio of wasted time to productive time was 56% to 44%. 

As the year comes to a close, our Business Development team has been working hard to provide Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) to many of our clients. These assessments play a crucial role in offering a clear look at the overall health of each business, mapping out goals and determining how to best meet them. 

Depending on whether your organization follows a calendar year or fiscal year, the appropriate timing will vary; but the importance of gathering accurate, unbiased information and establishing a strategic plan should not be underestimated. 

A well-developed plan will provide clarity for your company and its stakeholders by offering a cohesive roadmap detailing the overall mission, vision, and plan for success. As part of the planning process, an audit of resources and competencies is performed, in order to ensure all elements are aligned, and working together towards that larger goal. 

It's safe to say that most, if not all, top decision-makers in each organization, have a clear vision of their company's strategy. However, without taking the time to develop a plan, and share the information with employees, the likelihood that that strategy will be implemented correctly, is slim to none. 

There are many reasons why a strategic plan might fail, but one common challenge that's often overlooked is how to best gather information that's unbiased. One way of mitigating this risk is to work with an outside source. By doing so, you ensure the plan created is built with a foundation of objective, equitable information. 

Another common practice that can impede an otherwise successful effort is the lack of commitment from an organization's leaders. Without a thorough understanding of the benefits a plan can offer, it's likely you won't see complete buy-in, which will quickly result in the dissolution of even the best-laid plans.  

Arielle Mullen