Yesterday I was asked how to go about structuring a strategic plan. Most of it revolves around asking the right questions. And in the proper order to help prioritize, and structure your thinking.

1) What do we want to achieve?

    Prioritize if more than one goal.

2) Why do we want to do this?

    The answer to this question should be referred back to when adding any new initiative or tactic, to check for alignment. This process of referring back keeps a tight focus on efforts, which can easily assume a life of their own. I refer to this process as using our “objective lens or filter”.

3) How are we going to achieve this?

    In outlining how, you should be defining the tactics. This step means taking a broad view. It can include allocating resources and budget, increasing skillsets, putting in place infrastructure – all the major building blocks needed to accomplish the objectives.

It can be important to differentiate between “enabling” and “progress” initiatives in this final stage. Enabling initiatives give you the proper base – data, processes, resources, etc. These are the things that make your business more sustainable. Progress initiatives break new ground, and directly cause growth – revenue, margins, cost base, etc. Enabling initiatives should always be prioritized, even though achieving objectives likely only comes with undertaking the progress initiatives.

The execution of these tasks are tactics. But that’s not to say that you can’t be strategic when doing this – mainly by continuing to use the “objective lens”, and by knowing how each tactic may impact others.

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