Strategic Planning 101

  • Article
  • 30 June 2021

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is the process of determining the organization’s purpose, its desired future results, and how the organization will achieve those results.

To determine the direction of the organization, it is important to understand its current situation and what is required to reach where the organization wants to be in the future. Typically, the process is organization-wide, however, strategic planning may also be done for a department, division, initiative, or other major function.

What are the elements of a strategic planning process?

Strategic Analysis

Typically consists of conducting an analysis of the macro-environment in which the organization operates as well as identifying internal strengths and weaknesses that may help or hinder the organization reach its goals. Information gathered during the strategic analysis about major issues and opportunities facing the organization provide direction and inform the strategic goals.

Setting Strategic Direction

Includes developing the strategic philosophy of the organization, typically the organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategic goals. The vision is a compelling description of what the organization hopes to achieve in the long term; the mission is a description of the purpose of the organization; values list the overall priorities for how the organization will operate; and strategic goals are the accomplishments that the organization should focus on to achieve both its mission and vision.

Action Planning

The process of identifying how the strategic goals will be achieved. Action planning includes developing specific objectives for each strategic goal. Objectives are further detailed to include actions or tactics, which include roles, responsibilities, timelines, and measures.

Strategy Implementation

Executing the strategy through implementing the action plans. The annual plan is often called an operational, business, or management plan. Resources (budget, human

resources, equipment, and materials) are applied to each activity, and timelines developed to monitor and measure the annual plan.

Communicating the Strategy

Important to help people in the organization see the link on how they fit in and their impact on the strategy. This ensures that employees are aware of and understand the strategy. Leaders in the organization are responsible for drawing that link so that the entire organization supports the strategy.

Monitoring and Measuring Success

Critical to the success of strategy execution. Regular progress updates help motivate employees to keep up their efforts.

Why does an organization embark on a strategic planning process?

Without a strategic plan the organization may appear to lack direction and focus. Similar to navigating an unknown territory without having a destination and a plan to arrive at that destination. Organizations may get lost in highly competitive business environments for which they are unprepared. Unpredictable investment patterns, exponential increases in technology, and increasing globalization are only a few of the environmental factors that could impact an organization.

Who leads a strategic planning process?

The strategic planning process lead is typically the CEO or President of the organization and the leader of divisions, departments, or teams if strategic planning is focused at that level. A professional consultant, such as myself, well versed in strategic planning, often facilitates the strategic planning process.

Who should be involved in the process?

Strategic planning should be carried out by a team that involves key people in the organization. The team helps identify the process to be used including strategic analysis and participates in the current state diagnosis. The team is involved in the development of the strategic direction and action plans, as well as implementation of those action plans.

When should an organization develop a strategic plan?

Timing of strategic planning process is dependent upon the needs and nature of the organization. If an organization is in start-up mode, it is a perfect time to develop its

strategic foundation.

Once an organization has a strategic plan, it is important to review it on a regular basis, at a minimum annually. If there are many changes occurring in the business

environment (e.g., markets, business regulations, etc.), the strategy may be reviewed on a more frequent basis.

How will having a strategic plan benefit our organization?

Strategic planning will help define organizational purpose and direction and set realistic and achievable goals. The strategic plan provides the foundation to communicate these to your employees to ensure that employees are focused on work that contributes to the strategy. It helps employees better use resources that are available to them to serve the company. The strategy should focus on taking advantage of the opportunities available to your organization, defend against threats, capitalize on its strengths, and mitigate risk caused by weaknesses.

Dr. Wilma Slenders, PhD has facilitated strategic planning processes for large, multi-national companies, joint ventures, not-for-profit organizations, and academic institutions. To find out more about Transcend’s services in this area, contact us at

Dr. Wilma Slenders PhD, PCC

Dr. Wilma Slenders is a renowned change management facilitator, leadership coach, and strategic advisor for organizations of all sizes and industries. Her insights come from over 20 years of hands-on experience and thousands of hours of teaching, consulting on, planning, and executing long-term professional leadership strategies and organizational strategies.

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