Everywhere you go you hear people and companies talking about their vision, mission, or values. But why all the hype . . . why is it so important? Well, we’re here to answer those questions!
Vision, mission, and strategic planning can sound like a daunting, even complicated and confusing, task. But it doesn’t have to be any of those things. Strategic planning is simply taking your ambitions and aspirations – the vision – and turning them into a plan of action – the mission. It is creating a plan to reach your goals. Why is planning so important? In the words of Winston Churchill, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” In short, planning is the foundation of success.
So how do you go about creating a plan and reaching your goals? Read on to find out the seven elements of strategic planning!
This is a critical element of strategic planning. Values are principles that guide your actions, help define your organization’s identity, form your organization’s culture, and define basic principles of how you go about your work. They are the foundation of strategic planning and how your organization functions.
Values are the basis for determining whether your efforts fit the organization’s identity. Your vision, mission, strategies, objectives, and tasks are measured against your values. If any of those are contrary to your values, rethink them. It’s okay to tweak your plan to better reflect your values. It is better to modify plans than compromise values because your values will keep you on course. Be sure to consult your values.
Strategic planning revolves around knowing and understanding your vision. Where do you want to be or what do you want to do? A vision statement is forward-looking. Your vision statement doesn’t tell you how you’re going to get there but rather sets the direction of your organization. The vision statement articulates your hopes and dreams. Your vision is what you aspire to and, after reading this, plan to achieve.
For example, at FSQC our vision is simply: to equip food, beverage, and packaging manufacturers to successfully develop, own, and manage their food safety and quality programs. This is what we want to do and strive to do. So, what do you want to do? What do you want to be?
Now that you know your vision, you can determine your mission. What are you going to do to fulfill and achieve your vision? Your mission statement defines how you plan to fulfill your vision. It’s the course of action you are going to take to see your dreams become a reality.
FSQC’s mission is to: set our clients up for success by: providing experience, guidance, and coaching through consulting; delivering education and sharing knowledge through focused training; and analyzing their state of readiness and compliance by conducting comprehensive audits and GAP assessments. Now it’s your turn, what actions are you going to take to make your vision a reality?
It’s time to put your mission into action. How are you going to achieve your mission and fulfill your vision? What steps will you take? A strategy is simply the methods you employ to carry out and accomplish your mission which in turn fulfills your vision. Strategies provide you with direction and goals to achieve. The fulfillment of the mission is a direct result of implementing your strategies. So how do you do that? Keep reading.
Now that you have defined your vision and mission statements, you can begin setting milestones and goals associated with your strategies that need to be reached. Simply put, an objective is a milestone you need to accomplish in order to execute the strategy. Objectives are the foundational elements of the strategy, are measurable, and make the vision and mission real. Objectives are where you direct your effort: an aim, a goal, or end of action. Think of where you want to be and how you’re going to get there and set goals that move you in that direction.
This element is where the rubber meets the road. Tasks are the specific actions needed to complete the associated objective. They are the actions you implement to accomplish your objectives and reach your goals. What work needs to be done to reach your objective? Keep in mind that there may be several tasks for one objective, but they can be broken up among your team members and given out as specific jobs to do.
Here you’ll identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT Analyses are simply an evaluation of your organization. A SWOT analysis is a situational analysis that helps you identify and closely examine what external opportunities and threats you face, as well as what internal strengths and weaknesses you have in order to chart a plan or strategy. SWOTs are a tool to help you form the basis for determining where to put your efforts and can be used to develop your Mission, Strategies, Objectives, and Tasks.
It helps you fill in the cracks in your organization by identifying weaknesses and threats so you can manage or prevent them, as well as strengths and opportunities so that you can utilize and benefit from them. It is important to keep in mind that SWOTs are not a one-time procedure. They are to be carried out regularly to monitor changes internally and externally and to measure the effectiveness of your plan.
There is a lot of work that goes into strategic planning, but a good plan makes success achievable. Simply follow the steps. First, identify your values and define your vision and mission statements. Second, conduct a SWOT analysis to find out what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats there are for your organization. From there shape your strategy, set your objectives, and plan tasks. Remember to always keep your values in mind when planning and periodically conduct SWOTs to measure your progress and stay aware of changes.
Think of your plan as a pyramid. Your values are the first layer of stone – the foundation. On top of those values, you layer your SWOTs, tasks, objectives, strategies, and mission. At the apex of the pyramid is your vision. To reach your vision you must act and build upon your values until your vision is made a reality.
Need help with strategic planning? We can help you with:
- Guidance through consulting
- Education through training