Strategic planning is the process of defining how a business will compete in its marketplace. It’s the roadmap, so to speak, of an organization that guides the team toward desired outcomes. A well-considered strategic plan makes it easier to establish priorities over time and use resources efficiently.
There are three basic components to a strategic plan. They are—in order of hierarchy—goals, strategies, and tactics.
Alice: Oh, no no. I was wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well, that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn’t matter, as long as …
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.
Alice in Wonderland
Goals must be set before anything else takes shape; because without goals, we’re aimless. Think about it in terms of driving with no sense of where you want to go. A lot of time and fuel can be wasted by meandering through neighborhoods and urban centers without getting anywhere. But with a clearly defined destination—a goal—the effort is validated and worthwhile.
So if your goal is a destination, then strategies lay out how you’re going to get there. Strategies are the set of actions that function together to achieve the goal. It’s the route in our road trip analogy.
Finally, tactics are the details, the specific moves and turns that you take to achieve your strategy. Tactics must remain nimble and able to change as obstacles and opportunities present themselves in the real world of implementation.
But first things first. Before we can develop meaningful goals, we need to know where we stand right now. Where does the business currently fit into the market in relation to competitors and in the minds of consumers?
A popular exercise for making this assessment is known as a SWOT Analysis. So before we talk further about goals, let’s look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your business.
Otherwise, you’re going to have a blurry goal.
For more clarity, read this post about goals, strategies and tactics.