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Starting Your Strategic Plan on the Right Foot

March 08, 2010

What if most of what’s up on the web, most of what you have
learned about creating a strategic plan, is… well misguided?
I could say most strategic planning for businesses STARTS OUT
ALL WRONG…. but I was trying to find a word that communicates
without stepping on toes. Did ‘misguided’ work for you?

If you and I were to do a quick search on the topic of strategic
planning through the web, through text books, through Amazon,
we would repeatedly find the standard instruction on strategic
planning to include something like the following:

1. Start by defining your Vision or your primary goal,
2. Next frame your Mission and Purpose
3. Then do a SWOT analysis (assess your strengths, weaknesses,
     opportunities and threats)
4. And finish up by building out a set of strategic initiatives.

If you are non-profit organization this makes a fair amount of sense.

If you work in, or own, a for-profit business, this approach
starts you off on the wrong foot, looking at and prioritizing the
wrong issues.

Before I go on, I need to share a chuckle with you.  If you look
up strategic planning in Wikipedia, the recommendation starts
with a first step of identifying “What do you do?”  I’m always hoping,
hence the chuckle, that most people I’m working with know what
they and the organization do… but maybe that’s a big oversite on
my part.  But my point here is the “You” word.

Back to the topic.  You see, if you need to make money, your
vision, your values, your mission and purpose aren’t where you
start.    They aren’t that important initially. 

I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but when it comes to
making a profit, YOU’RE not that important… compared
to the market.

You see, it’s what happening in the market that’s important.
It’s what the market is doing, the kinds of products and services
getting traction, etc, that are critically relevant to making
money… not your mission statement, or your latest product or
service feature.

So where should you start, when creating a strategic plan?

Glad you asked that question, at least I was hoping you were
asking it while reading this blog. 

I need a drum roll clip right here.

Strategic planning, again speaking about for-profit businesses,
needs to start with an analysis of the market.

Whether you already have one or more products and services, or
are looking to the market to identify the right product or service
to push or consolidate, you want to start your strategic planning
with a strong look at what’s driving the market.

Specifically you can help yourself by looking at three areas:

1. The current place on the innovation life cycle your business’
products and services currently exist, as it will drive customer response.
2. Whether your market is narrow or wide, unformed or tightly
consolidated, as it will directly impact your marketing strategy.
3. What is driving buying behavior; e.g. innovation, brand, cost or
user experience, as you want direct your investment efforts to
put you in front of that buyer behavior.

Bottom Line:

Strategic planning needs to start with an analysis of the market
if being constructed for a for-profit business.  Everything else,
your vision, values, mission, etc, is of secondary relevance
to understanding the market and using that knowledge to
construct a strategic plan.

I’m going to put together a power point to demonstrate how I walk
organizations through that sequence, and will post a link in my
next blog… so stay tuned.


Strategic Planning Software

2 Comments. Leave new

The Opportunity to Turn it Around Before the New Year Starts
December 13, 2010 5:20 pm

[…] Starting your Strategic Plan on the Right Foot […]

Strategic Planning
March 14, 2011 7:40 am

In today’s highly competitive business environment, budget-oriented planning or forecast-based planning methods are insufficient for a large corporation to survive and prosper. The firm must engage in Strategic Planning that clearly defines objectives and assesses both the internal and external situation to formulate strategy, implement the strategy, evaluate the progress, and make adjustments as necessary to stay on track.


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