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Why do people like to emphasize on the importance of planning? Whatever we are going to do, it’s important to have a strategic plan before you dive in. Anyone who jumps into a battle without a plan is planning to fail, especially when you are a company competing in a world where big companies of hundreds of years of history are already expanding across the world. Before you bring your whole fleet of ships towards the same direction just because it looked like everybody did, do plan. There are five reasons strategic planning is vital to the success of a project. First is to let everyone involved know what your real purposes are. It’s important to articulate what you want to achieve with your team and let them know what the current priorities are. You want your people to work towards the same goals to achieve it with the highest efficiency.

Strategic planning also allows you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your team or company. By involving different department, you let your people discuss how they can collaborate with each other to reach their goals. Because everyone knows what they are supposed to do for the plan and project, it’s easier for you to organize the company as a whole and direct it towards the goal you made.With everyone on the same page, your decision-making can simply skip a lot of steps because everyone knows their priorities. With everyone understanding what should be their main priorities, decision-making power can be decentralized and reduce the time needed for confirmations. By strategizing how you want to proceed and go as a company, you also think about how you should allocate people and resources. You can also analyze and predict how long will it take to reach a goal and realistically predict how well your people can perform. Spending time brainstorming about your plan helps you see objectively that there is no guarantee things will go as you planned. You have to prepare contingency plans to help prevent your team from getting swept away by troubles that could have been prevented or solved if you had prepared early. By preparing for the worst possible scenarios, you are planning to win and reach your goal.There are 6 steps or principles in strategic planning and you start with setting up a clear goal or purpose for everyone. Follow the SMART principle when setting up your goal, which means it has to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

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Your goal has to be something that your followers, employees, or teammates can easily process and understand. For example, you want to double your profit for kids’ toy by the next two months through a means of new marketing strategies. This way, your employees understand what has become their priorities as of now, helping them to make the right decision when you are not available to help everyone in every situation. Next is to make sure that everyone knows they are involved in the plan and process, not just a listener or observer. Even an observer may have the role of warning everyone when people are seen to sidetracking from the main objective. Get a representative of every department and point out what their roles can be in this. Create a shared vision that includes everyone in the picture to motivate them in doing their best to help you reach the goal. Identify the main issues that you have been facing and why you haven’t done this earlier. Was it because of limited resources? Or did the government regulation made it hard or too costly to proceed with the plan? What has changed now, or what innovation or ideas did your company stumble upon that changed the situation? What needs to be changed in order to ensure the plan goes well? Invite every member into the discussion, especially if the issue is internal and related to the lack of leadership skill. They can also make their voice heard if it’s the plan itself that doesn’t make sense. After you have confirmed of your target, the rough draft of the plan and identify the main barriers, it’s time to dive specifically into how you are doing things. However, make the plan something that is flexible and adapting to the changes that can happen. It is safe to say that the world is volatile and new regulations, political tensions and new discoveries of resources or knowledge can change people’s perspectives and how we do things. Thus, you may need to reassess your plans from time to time to see if there are ways to improve and not be knocked out of the competition before you even started. However, one has to be careful to also not be distracted by other things and lose sight of your main purpose.

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Next is to evaluate the performances of everyone involved, which will help you in part of your reassessment. You want to know if everything is on track according to your plan or if you need to readjust who is in charge of what. This is your chance to hear out everyone involved in the plan regarding what can be done better as well. Make sure that you are objective during the evaluation and give them a chance to say something about their performances. Most importantly, be honest if you find yourself made a wrong judgment regarding the performance evaluation, whether that’s human error or system error. Lastly, motivate everyone in the room to do their best for the plan. Think why is each department so important in contributing to the success of the plan? Between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, how can you improve the work environment and employees’ satisfaction while they work? Instead of money or fear of consequences from not reaching the goal, how do you make them feel appreciated for what they do and be motivated to give their best willingly?It is so much easier to reach a goal if you planned things out instead of just diving into it. Through strategic planning, you are bringing your team towards success and making sure nothing is significant enough to prevent you from reaching it.

Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: Principles of Strategic Planning.