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Strategic planning is an important part of business success.

It doesn’t happen on its own, though; leaders must develop a business strategy. This template will walk you through how to develop your own business strategy.

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Strategy Formulation

How can businesses get where they want to be? Strategy formulation is about creating a plan to steer your organization where you want it to go.The steps to forming a strategy are described in detail in the lesson Strategy Formulation: Definition, Model ; Process.

The steps below will walk you through creating your own strategy.

The Steps

As you move through each of the following steps, you will be asked to answer questions and create responses. Each of your responses will build on what you wrote in the previous step, so don’t skip any!In addition, keep the following in mind as you go through these steps:

  • Write your answers down.
  • Be specific.
  • Stretch yourself and think outside the box.
  • Think about what’s happening both inside and outside your organization.

Now, let’s begin!

Step 1: Values assessment

Think about what is important to the people that are part of the organization as well as the culture and operating philosophy of your business.

As you think about the values of your company, answer these questions:

  • What is most important to the stakeholders of this organization?
  • What are the guiding principles of this business?
  • What legacy should this organization leave?
  • What moral or ethical principles should this business uphold?

Step 2: Vision and Mission Formulation

With your organizational values in mind, it’s time to write your company vision and mission statements. Think about the core purpose of your company, where you envision your company going, and the purpose of your business. Answer these questions:

  • What are the core values of this company?
  • What is the reason for this organization?
  • Where do we see the company in a year? Five years? Ten years?
  • What is the mission of the company?
  • What should this company accomplish?

Pause and Implement:If you haven’t already, now is a good time to communicate your company’s values, vision, and mission. It’s important to communicate with all stakeholders, meaning the investors, employees, and customers. Some ways of doing this include writing a company-wide email, updating the company’s website to include these things, and/or discussing them on conference calls and at in-person meetings.

Step 3: Strategy Design

With the company’s values, vision, and mission clarified, it’s time to adopt a strategy to achieve the vision of the company and uphold its values and mission. To do this, you must think about what you need to do to get where you want to go. As you think about that, answer these questions as specifically as possible:

  • What are the major lines of the organization’s business?
  • How will we measure progress in each of the lines?
  • What is the time frame or target deadline for each metric of success?
  • What are the strategic thrusts we need to implement to meet our goals?
  • What type of organizational culture will help achieve our goals?

Pause and Implement:After step 3, you should have a list of goals, metrics for those goals, and a timeline. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to communicate the strategic goals to the organization’s stakeholders. This can be done in a number of ways, including at investor meetings, with company emails, and/or through the company website.

Step 4: SWOT & Gap Analyses

Now it’s time to think about the strengths and challenges of the company. Specifically, what is keeping you from achieving the strategic goals right this minute and what tools do you already have to help you achieve those goals?Often, this is called a SWOT analysis because it covers strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You should also look at any gaps in the organization that might delay or prevent achievement of strategic goals. Answer the following questions:

  • What strengths do we have as a company that will help us achieve our strategic goals?
  • What organizational weaknesses might act as stumbling blocks, preventing us from reaching our goals?
  • What external opportunities or resources do we have to help us achieve our strategic goals?
  • What external threats might keep us from reaching our goals?
  • What is the organization doing right now to reach our goals?
  • What do we need to stop doing in order to move closer to our goals?
  • What is the company not doing right now that it needs to do to achieve our goals?
  • What tools do we need to help us reach our goals?

Step 5: Action Plan Development

With the SWOT and gap analyses and the strategic goals in mind, it’s time to create an action plan.

This includes short-term actions and long-term initiatives that will move you closer to your strategic vision for the company. Answer the following questions, remembering to be as specific as possible:

  • What actions can we take this week to move us closer to our goals?
  • What actions can we take this month to help us achieve our goals?
  • What long-term initiatives should we implement to help us towards our goals?
  • What are the things we need to do in the next six months? In the next year?

Pause and Implement:If you haven’t already, now is a good time to begin to implement some of the plans you’ve listed in your action plan. If you have a short-term action that can be done in the next week or two, get it done. If you have a long-term initiative that you can begin, get it started.

Look for opportunities to get started today, instead of waiting.

Step 6: Contingency Planning

Change is the only constant in business. Things won’t go perfectly according to your plan. As a result, it’s important to create a contingency plan that will help you change course and/or deal with unexpected challenges and changes. To do this, answer the following questions:

  • What structures can we put into place to deal with change?
  • What challenges are we most likely to deal with and what can we do to meet those challenges head-on?
  • How will we deal with unexpected changes or challenges as they pop up?

Pause and Implement:Now that you’ve got both an action plan and a contingency plan, you should be in the heart of implementation.

Success in implementation involves getting all stakeholders to support the action plan and conducting regular assessments to make sure that you’re still on track. If things begin to change, revisit the plan. You can do this by revisiting all or some of the steps above and re-envisioning your business strategy.

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