Are you engaging is strategic planning for results? It’s fall, which in the business world means it’s time to start planning for the upcoming year. Goodbye, summer; it’s time to rev the engines and charge ahead!

Strategic planning is rather like the business equivalent of New Year’s resolutions. The best of intentions combine with a glorious vision, and we set out to conquer the world, with wild, unbridled enthusiasm.

But, just like with New Year’s resolutions, somewhere between the glittering vision and next year’s actual activities, there can be a major reality gap. We have a fairy tale portrait for the distant future, but too often the next year comes and goes, and we’ve failed to move closer to our dream. Step back for a moment and reflect. Are your plans for the new year really supporting your vision?

Strategic planning should be the first step in a clear progression taking you from where you are to where you want to be. Your strategic plan should align you, your focus and activity to reach your dream. Will your plans, strategies, tactics and actions really move you forward?  Use these 7 basic questions to position yourself for success.

7 Questions – Strategic Planning for Results

  • First, what is your visionary goal? At the very end, where do you want to be? Is your goal to sell your stake in the business for multiple millions of dollars, or take an early retirement? Is your goal to dominate the market, or create a truly socially responsible business? Be very clear about your end game. If you don’t know where you’re going, you will probably never get there.
  • Based upon your visionary goal, what is your 5 year goal? Where do you need to be 5 years from now, to be on track? What products do you need to create? What level of sales or staffing or infrastructure will you need at the 5 year mark? 
  • In order to reach your 5 year goal, what is your most critical goal? What do you need to incorporate into strategic planning for 2019? What steps do you need to take right now? Evaluate your status. Focus on the path to your success, and not on the distractions. Some goals may be relatively easy, or fun and frivolous. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t let these consume you, only to find the year gone with no progress toward the goal which really matters.
  • What roadblocks block you from achieving your most critical goal? Are they technical, or financial, informational, or something else? Anticipate all challenges.
  • How will you overcome these roadblocks? What are your strategies and tactics? What advance planning do you need? Will you need to do research, or develop alliances, or gain a new skill set?
  • What specific actions are required?  Set a timetable, with deadlines. What milestones do you need to reach, and when, in order to attain your most critical goal? This is your action plan for 2019. Be realistic. Remember you still must keep up with day-to-day activities, as well as taking time for holidays, vacations and any required down-time in your industry.
  • Finally, what is your commitment? Are you able and willing to meet your action plan? Is your plan a reality or is it window dressing? Be honest with yourself. If your are not committed to action, make adjustments. Consider other strategies to attain your visionary goal, and work through the 7 questions. Alternatively, you may decide to revise your ultimate goal. The choice is yours.

Activity does not always equal progress, and activity which is not directed toward your visionary goal will not help you reach that goal. Know your ultimate end game, and ensure that next year and every year, you are focused on strategic planning for results and your annual strategic plan takes you closer to where you ultimately want to be.

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