Strategic planning…do you love it or hate it? I feel like most people have pretty strong feelings around writing a strategic plan. I fall into the love it category and have written dozens of plans for clients and companies over the years. It’s also big part of the reason I launched Alignd on Purpose. So, today I’m revealing my number one secret to building a compelling strategic plan.
Here’s the secret: Start with your message.
Whether you’re a business of one or Fortune 100, the strategic planning process should be rooted in a clear understanding of your purpose or your mission, vision and values. These tools are your compass.
In my work, I actually put a greater emphasis on clarifying a company’s What – How – Why before I start writing their strategic plan. Simon Sinek first introduced the Golden Circles (What – How – Why) in his 2009 TedTalk. I’ve learned differentiating between the three of these brings a tremendous amount of clarity. For those working through EOS, I find the Golden Circle framework echoes much of your V/TO work.
Sketching out your What, How and Why helps answer three important questions that will keep showing up in your planning process:
- What do you offer and to whom?
- How do you do this different than anyone else in your space?
- Why does your business exist beyond profit alone?
Consistency is key.
Clarity is the number reason I like to start with messaging when I’m building a strategic plan. The second is consistency. It’s difficult to implement a plan or garner support when people are on different pages. Writing down and reviewing your What – How – Why ensures that we’re all working from the same playbook.
The goal of your strategic plan is to build a roadmap for your business. Starting with where you are today and ending with where you want to be later. As we move forward, we keep adding building blocks. With an understanding of what we do, how we do it and why, we’re better able to ensure that each block is moving us forward.
Streamlining your strategic plan.
I’ve also learned a clear message helps us avoid grabbing the wrong blocks. I used to believe the strategic planning process should start with a brainstorm session. Now, instead of asking what are all of the things we could be doing, I put more energy into the broadening the base. Or, reinforcing the foundational things that align with the messaging.
Once the foundation is built and we’re clear about what’s working and what isn’t, then we can bring on those creative, new ideas. We can also refine our systems for measurement. Another thing I’ve learned doing this work is that measurement is meaningless if you don’t have proper systems and structures in place.
With the right framework, strategic planning can be transformational whether you love it or hate it. But, regardless of how you approach the process, clarity is a great place to start.
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Didn’t get enough? Check out The Corporate Purpose Podcast for interviews with experts and more ideas about building a purpose driven business.