Steps in strategic planning process

I will be brief in describing steps in strategic planning process. This is because most of Simply Strategic Planning is all about a simple corporate strategic planning process. My aim now is simply to give a helicopter view of the design of the strategic planning steps.

In briefest summary, the steps in strategic planning process consist of -

  • first, collecting the necessary data, then
  • deliberating over it in one grand picture so that the managers, by standing a long way hack, can see their organization set within its total panoramic strategic situation, and then
  • finally they will be able to decide how to steer it to successfully achieve its purpose through the next few years:

    Data > Deliberation > Decision

The first of the steps in strategic planning
focuses on data

The amount of data required to play the game governed by the steps in strategic planning process is very small.

You need to collect only three types of data -

  • the governing corporate objective of the organization,
  • its internal strengths and weaknesses, and
  • the opportunities and threats that may lie ahead of it.

That is all!

Just three key areas; leave out any of them and the corporate strategic plan will be defective.

You might think that it was a fairly obvious list of essential items. Yet organizations prepare their strategic plans with one, or even two, of these essential kinds of data missing!

It is especially common for people to do the second two steps in a SWOT analysis and claim they have completed their strategic plan. Not so!

The second of the steps in strategic planning involves deliberation

While the amount of data involved in corporate strategic planning is much less than most people realize, the second of the steps in strategic planning process involves a great deal of discussion and consideration of all sides of a set of issues.

It involves the kind of committed thoughtfulness you would expect in the deliberations of a jury! Some of the issues may turn out to be of life or death importance in terms of the future of the organization.

The third of the steps in strategic planning
is about decision

Having gathered a small set of vital data, and deliberated on it to clarify the most important issues for the organization, it is finally time to take decisions about how to address these major strategic issues.

Here we must avoid the danger of going on too long with our deliberations, with our wheels spinning us into analysis paralysis. This final of the steps in strategic planning is where the rubber hits the road! At this stage we commit to taking action!

This all may sound very simple, and therefore very easy.

Not so!

Simple? Yes!

Easy? No!

In practice, moving though steps in strategic planning can be very challenging. This is because it is not only the logic of the process that matters. The people involved matter. This includes not only those directly involved in the process of planning; the chief executive led team of senior managers. It also includes those whose lives may be impacted by the decisions taken and acted on after going through the steps in strategic planning.

In addition to steps in strategic planning that involve gathering vital data, deliberating on it, and coming to decisions, the strategic planning steps, stages, or process tasks must also ensure the engagement and commitment of all relevant parties.

That does not mean that the steps in strategic planning process need to be very complicated or ‘scientific’. The strategic planning steps are few in number. However it is important that they be done in a certain way.

Check here for another approach that also stresses the importance of engaging participants in the planning process.

All steps in strategic planning process involve many sub steps or that form five essential stages

In practice, I have found that the actual strategic planning process steps can be organized into five stages, as depicted in the following graphic.

While steps in strategic planning process are displayed as a straight-through sequence, in practice, there are sure to be discussions among planning team members that result in revising earlier stages. Sometimes possible outcomes of later stages will be anticipated at the earlier steps in strategic planning. Lessons learnt towards the end will frequently cause the planning team to look back and revise what they had previously decided.

Effective strategic planning requires only a handful of procedures.

More detailed information on all steps in strategic planning is available on this site -

1. Engage commitment

Aspects of this are covered at who is involved in strategic planning? More detail on how to manage this through the steps in strategic planning will be found under Workshop Facilitation.

2. Set long term strategic performance objectives

Material on how to go about this is available at Corporate Objectives.

3. Generate strategic options

How to do the strategic analyses required before generating options is set out at SWOT analysis. The variety and scope of possible strategies is covered under Business Strategy and Strategic Planning Nonprofit.

4. Evaluate and decide on strategies

Aspects of strategic decision making are also covered under Business Strategy and Strategic Planning Nonprofit. Other useful information may be found at Strategic Planning Tools.

5. Monitor plan execution against objectives

This process is explained at Strategic Management Process.

Return from Steps in Strategic Planning Process to Strategic Planning Process.

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