Strategic Plans

One of the greatest dust gatherers of all time, the strategic plan is supposed to give you a broad overview of where you want to go and what, at a structural level, you need to do to get there.

It should have a bit to say about values and about your strengths and how you will play to them. What you will do about your weaknesses. What markets you want to be in and what resources you will need.

In other words, it's a decision tool, with a three to five year time frame.

Often, if only the boss reads it, that's enough: if it helps her make decisions and choose how to use resources.

Many "strategic plans" include detailed cash flow and profit projections. These are not strategic plans, they are complete flights of fantasy that are sometimes useful as showpiece documents (intended to impress lenders or investors).

A strategic plan will discuss finance, in terms of how much you need and how you will get it, perhaps specify an acceptable range of profit margin and certainly define a structure of financial management and governance.

If your organisation is lacking a sense of direction, and if you worry that your day-to-day decisions lack a cohesive purpose and direction, a strategic plan may be what you need.

We'd like to say, in all modesty, that we have become pretty good at them. Watch our video on planning.

 

Incidentally, in military parlance, a tactical plan tells how you will win a particular battle; where you will deploy your resources, when you will attack. It's detailed, specific and short term. A strategic plan tells how you will win the war. It may talk about investment in new weapons technology, prioritising certain targets, consistently attacking the enemy's supply lines and stepping up diplomacy with nearby nations. It is not concerned with individual battles and does not attempt to predict the details of the war.