Creating a Strategic Plan for 2021
Need a strategic plan for 2021? After the year we’ve had, it can be scary to even think about what’s to come in the next 12 months, but of course, putting our heads in the sand is not a good plan and most of us are optimistic that the next year MUST be better than the last.,
However, if 2020 taught us anything it was to truly expect the unexpected.
At the end of the day, a well thought out and executed strategic plan SHOULD help navigate those unsteady and uncharted waters. Now that hindsight is truly 20/20, this may be one of the best opportunities companies will have to engage their team members in and appreciate the strategic planning process.
How to get started
Strategic planning isn’t a one time event or even couple of days spent together. It’s a process and, in a perfect world, it’s one that really never stops. A good strategic plan doesn’t need to be executed because it becomes part of your every day operations and culture.
When is the right time to begin?
Well, there’s no time like the present and in the early parts of 2021, many companies will be thinking of completing their strategic planning virtually. This means more introspective, private reflection, homework and planning. As a facilitator, we know that the quality of your strategic plan is directly tied to the quality of the work you and your team to in preparation. Although every company and every strategic planning session is tailor-made for you, we recommend the following preparatory activities:
- SWOT Analysis: Ideally a SWOT should be completed by every participant in your senior leadership team who will be attending your strategic planning. If you’ve completed a SWOT before consider the pros and cons of sending out an older version in advance. Sometimes it helps get the creative juices flowing but it can also prejudice responses and prevent some critical thinking and brainstorming.
- Organizational Review: If you will be including your senior HR professional(s), ask them to update their organizational charts as well as an updated list of current job postings and gaps.
- Key Performance Indicators: If you have a balanced scorecard or Key Performance Indicator report ensure this is part of the prep materials for your team.
- Updated 2020 Strategic Plan: Most companies fall short when keeping up to date records of their tactics and strategies. Even if you don’t have a comprehensive update, ask your team members to list their projects from 2020 and the status (use Completed, In Progress, Not Initiated and Cancelled)
- Mission Statement / Vision / Values: If you have a mission or vision statement, consider reviewing it prior to your meeting. Often a good brainstorming activity at the beginning of your strategic planning can involve reviewing and debate the values and mission of your company. This often breeds great discussion on areas of focus and objectives for the coming year.
Preparing Your Team
Once the strategic planning preparatory material is completed, it’s a good idea to have your facilitator review and consolidate it prior to your meeting. Some companies like to share the information before to help participants prepare but others opt to have key leaders present their ideas. Often this is a personal choice and depends on the company culture and attendees. At the very least, make sure you send out the KPI data and year to date financials for review.
Conducting a Strategic Planning Session
- Having a great strategic planning session doesn’t happen by accident. You will want to prepare an agenda in advance and ensure that your management team understands the objectives for the session. Having an objective statement you can share with the group is a great way to help everyone understand the shared goals and expectations of the company in advance. You may have multiple objectives.
Here’s a good strategic planning objective statement:
TO: Conduct our Strategic Planning for 2021
IN A WAY THAT:
- Allows the senior leadership team to work collaboratively together for two full days
- Helps provide a framework to review our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
- Provides an opportunity to review our 2020 financials and achievements
- Allows us to discuss and debate the key values and visions of the organization and how that will direct our focus for 2021
- Identify 3-5 Company Objectives, including owners and measurable KPIs for the coming year
- Create an actionable strategic plan, including key strategies, tactics and responsible persons
SO THAT: We can achieve a successful and profitable 2021
Ensure everyone is onboard and understands the purpose and importance of the session(s)
A good strategic planning session occurs when there are no distractions which is why many successful companies opt to conduct their planning off-site. Of course in 2021, we don’t have anywhere to go so most companies will opt for virtual sessions but we would recommend some ground rules like having cameras on, turning off cell phones and closing the doors away from the distractions (dogs, cats, kids and spouses!) Having this conversation up front with your team will ensure accountability and committment.
Facilitating a Strategic Planning Session
It is critical that you pick the right person to facilitate your session. This person should be responsible for sending out the preparatory materials, creating the agenda, slides and helping keep the group engaged and on track. This is not an easy job. At Bizie Consultants, we often recommend having one of our senior members run your sessions: this provides your entire team with the time and freedom to participate in the session 100% and also allows your facilitator to provide an outsider’s perspective.
This year, strategic planning is more important than ever. Reach out to our office for a free consultation on our strategic planning services and let us help get you on track for 2021. We have very reasonable virtual consulting packages available for every business.