This article is an action plan for writing a strategic planning template. Save time, get started quickly without painstaking, detailed instructions following this outline.
Here's the quick overview of what we're building and how we're going to build it:
We've all heard that we need to "have a vision to succeed" or "make sure
to share your vision with your employees." It can almost have an
out-of-this world, intangible quality that makes people a little nervous
when trying to get their thoughts onto paper.
I think a lot of us feel we need to have a broad vision that changes the world or builds toward one million in revenue your first year in business. Ironically many people get stuck at this first step of strategic planning, identifying your vision because you either feel you think too broadly or not broadly enough.
The easiest way to define vision is simply, "what are you trying to accomplish and why?"
Defining why you want to do something helps solidify your commitment to achieving your goal. At some point, there will be an obstacle to meeting your goal. You need the depth of commitment that comes from understanding why you want to achieve it to help pull you through when the going gets tough.
There WILL be challenges, those are a part of life. But they are nature's way of filtering out the people that don't really want it as badly as you do, because everyone encounters challenges.
People that steel their focus and concentration and endure will succeed. Those
that were only half-heartedly attempting to accomplish will fall away.
Jim Rohn, the late motivational speaker, said that it is your job to spread seeds of things you believe in. He went on to explain that some will fall on barren land, some on shallow soil, some on will sprout but die at the first heat, but those that grow and flourish are pre-determined to be your strongest seeds sown in the most fertile ground.
Your strategic planning template is strengthened by your ability to nail down why this vision is important to you. You might take some time to develop a strong vision statement first. You want to be that strong seed in fertile ground and flourish in your achievement.
If you let your motivation sap with early challenges, you won't get to taste success. You'll be another statistic, non-starter, or could've been. Anticipate some of the challenges and think through how you may handle them but don't get too bogged down.
You get smarter the longer you do something so have confidence your skill set will mature enough to handle whatever arises at the time it does.
Now that you know what you want to do and have solidified your vision
with WHY you want to do it... You've taken some time to identify likely
challenges, competition, threats to your perfect vision. Now it's time
to lay out on paper what the objectives will actually look like on the
way to achieving your vision.
A goal is broken down into shorter-term objectives that lead you there.If you want to electronically track your progress, I use an app on my phone to track several to-do lists for various projects, check out the best free to-do app.
"A significant goal can seem overwhelming, way off in the distance. A short range objective seems more possible; therefore we're not afraid to tackle it."
- Alec Mackenzie in The Time Trap
When you say "increase revenue" it's not enough to fire up a team or
give them a bullseye to aim at... you need a specific objective.
Objectives are specific shorter-term activities that lead up to your
long-term goal with numbers attached.
They might look like, "increase top-line revenue from $3,000 per month to $4500 per month within 90 days." Or they might be, "increase customer satisfaction as measured in our surveys by 10% to 89% this by fiscal year end." They could be simpler like, "spend 30 minutes uninterrupted time with my son every weeknight before he goes to sleep." This level of complete clarity helps ensure your strategic planning template is effective.
To make it more clear an objective wouldn't be helpful if it said, "develop strong relationship with my son." How do you know when you've done that, it's never done so when do you measure it? What indicators do you look for to measure your progress?
Many years ago, the knights of a kingdom were responsible for spreading
the King's word and moving into action to defend his honor. The knights
were messengers for the king and responsible for making things happen,
carrying out orders and ensuring their king remained in power.
Strategy works the same way. Developing a strategy as part of a strategic planning template means taking each of the preceding parts and compiling them into a cohesive strategic planning template.
That plan builds toward a vision, addresses the challenges, specifies what you want and how you will measure progress and will help you identify likely challenges into a plan.
Here's where you get to tie it all together. If you've thought through (and hopefully written down) all of the preceding information, you can lay out the specific steps, in a series and on a time line for yourself.
So when you developed your strategy, you identified what specific
actions you need to take and how you will know when you're successful.
Now you lay that all out in a time line so you know what actions to take
in what order and when you should have them accomplished.
Writing an action plan is extremely helpful to long-range goal planning and increases the likelihood that you will achieve your goals because you have outlined a specific plan to get you there.
Measure twice, cut once.
Well, with a strategic planning template requires you build in times to measure your progress toward the vision. If you're not measuring progress and refining your actions along the way as things arise, it's going to be hard to know if you're still on target.
You will want to identify how often you will measure progress:
daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly? If you lay that out in advance and
follow up you can make adjustments as time goes on to reach your
You've heard the expression, "inspect what you expect." You need to not only do that for any employees you oversee, but also for yourself. It's VERY easy to get off track for weeks and not even realize how off base you are without measuring productivity by running your performance up against your predetermined action plan.
Once you've taken an hour or so to develop a comprehensive strategic planning template, you're ready to tackle your goals. With your strategic action plan in place, you will be ahead of most of the population who have just vague ideas of what they want to do but have not determined their action plan to achieve it!
If you're really serious about your strategic action plan, use a weekly planner to forecast and track your progress. Read my article: how to choose a planner or the one on cute planners to help you decide which one is right for you.
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