Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Ian Garner
Business Writer
3:00 AM 24th May 2022

Five Steps For Strategic Planning

Our business writer Ian Garner suggest five steps to help you with your Strategic Planning.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” - Sun Tzu, the great Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher.

Any organisation who wishes to be successful needs to have a Strategic Business Plan.

So, what is business strategy?

If you google search the phrase you find examples like the following:

'The definition of business strategy is a long-term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal or set of goals or objectives. It states how business should be conducted to achieve the desired goals. Without a strategy, management has no roadmap to guide them.'

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
How do you go about creating a comprehensive strategic plan?

There is a five-step strategic planning framework to follow to develop a comprehensive strategic plan.

Step one: Situation Analysis, or 'where are we now?'.

It’s essential to understand the current situation internally and externally. The following tools are an immense help:

PESTEL analysis is a framework used to analyse and monitor the external environment factors that impact an organisation. The result of which is used to identify threats and weaknesses which are used in a SWOT analysis.

Image by athree23 from Pixabay
Image by athree23 from Pixabay
SWOT is a comprehensive audit and competitive analysis that analyses the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing a business.

Using PESTEL and SWOT will identify key trends and the drivers that affect your business and allow you to identify the priority issues.

Step two: Direction, or 'where do we want to be?'.

Jack Welch, one of the world's most respected and celebrated CEOs said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” Your business philosophy is the backbone of your business

Purpose – 'the ingredient that drives our organisation'
Ambition – 'the desire to achieve something'
Mission – 'what we do, both now and into the future'
Values – 'our desired culture'
Vision – 'says what we wish to be in the future'

Step 3: Alignment – or 'how will we get there?'

Create a competitive advantage, which is when a brand uses its assets, its abilities, or its unique features to win out over its competitors. It’s when a company consistently outperforms its competition due to a specific attribute. Competitive advantage means building products, services, a brand, and a reputation that attracts consumers continually over time.

Introduce culture change programmes. Leading international management consulting firm, McKinsey say:

'Companies with healthy cultures outperform those that don’t. When change programs fail the reason is typically related to people and culture. Fostering a healthy culture can be the ultimate competitive advantage in a world where business models are easily replicated.'

Step 4: Execution – or 'who must do what?'

Action plans and accountability are essential to business success. Action plans should include SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). However, SMART objectives fail if they lack accountability.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay
Step 5: Evaluation – or how are we doing?'

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania describes the evaluation and review process as follows:

'A quality, comprehensive business review serves as a business status update and plan for the remainder of the year. Taking time out of one’s busy schedule to hold a review is an essential part of business management. The first step is to write down an outline agenda highlighting what you want to accomplish with your team for the remainder of the current year. The exercises of integration, resource allocation, leadership, and communications strengthen the collective body of your company.'

Let’s end where we started with another quote from Sun Tzu:

“If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”

Ian Garner
Ian Garner
Ian Garner is a retired Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI) and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors (FIoD). He is Vice Chair of the Institute of Directors, North Yorkshire Branch. He is founder and director at Practical Solutions Management, a strategic consultancy practice and skilled in developing strategy and providing strategic direction, specialising in business growth and leadership.
Ian is a Board Member of Maggie’s Leeds. Maggie’s provides emotional and practical cancer support and information in centres across the UK and online, with their centre in Leeds based at St James’s Hospital.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) is the UK's largest membership organisation for business leaders, providing informative events, professional development courses for self-improvement, networking and expert advice. The IoD North Yorkshire Branch has members across Harrogate, York and the surrounding towns and is reaching out to business leaders, of large and small enterprises, to help their businesses succeed.