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The Ten-Step, One-Day Strategic Plan

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Step Six – Write your goals and objectives.
Goals and objectives are like stair steps to your mission and vision. Realistic goals and objectives are developed from the SWOT analysis and customer profile. Objectives set the agenda, are broad, and global in nature. Write two to five objectives that give action to your mission/vision and will take a few years to achieve. Then, develop goals to achieve each objective. Goals should be measurable, quantifiable, and support your objectives. Think about achieving them in a one-year timeframe. Effective goals must state how much of what kind of performance by when is to be accomplished and by whom. Make sure both your goals and objectives build on your strengths; shore up your weaknesses; capitalize on your opportunities; and recognize your threats.

Step Seven – Assess your resources.
Now that you have completed your goals and objectives, it is time to do a resource assessment. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to all well laid strategic plans is time and money. As with every business, budgets are never big enough to do everything you want to do. Prioritize key goals by asking: Do implementing the goals make financial sense? Do you have the human resources to achieve your plan?

Step Eight – Take action.
Tactics set specific actions/action plans that lead to implementing your goals and objectives. Basically write a to-do list for each goal. A quick way to develop your tactics is to answer this question: What roadblocks exist to achieving my goal? Use the answer to develop action items for each goal. Assign responsibilities and deadlines to ensure implementation. A great method to get buy-in from your staff is to assign a goal to each employee. Ask him/her to write the action plan and be responsible for making sure each task is accomplished.

Step Nine – Keep score.
In step six, you wrote goals that were measurable. Put these measurements and targets on a scorecard (in Excel), which acts as an instrument panel guiding your company towards achieving your vision. With the scorecard, you can actively track your progress on a monthly basis.

Step Ten – Make strategy a habit.
A leader devoted to the successful implementation of the strategy and plan is key. The plan needs to be supported with people, money, time, systems, and above all communication. Communicate the plan to everyone in your organization. Hold a monthly or quarterly strategy meeting to report on the progress toward achieving the goal. Don’t forget to take corrective actions when needed and adapt as the environment changes.

Conclusion
My last word of advice is a plan is a living document. It does not have to be perfect or 100 percent complete to start using your strategic plan. A business without a plan is like a car without a steering wheel. A rough draft is better than no plan at all. Put your plan on paper so you can look back on 2004 and celebrate your well-earned success. Happy Planning!

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Erica Olsen (Erica@m3planning.com) is a principal of M3 Planning, a business development firm that helps companies understand who they are, where they are going, and how they will get there. She is also an instructor and a writer.

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