Strategic planning represents different concepts to different individuals. To some it means establishing missions and exercising values. To others it signifies establishing deadlines for action items and managing changes. Whether philosophical or task-oriented, strategic planning means moving an organization in the direction of a shared vision through mutual goals and objectives.
A strategic plan is different than a business plan. A strategic plan places its focus on the organization as a whole whereas a business plan emphasizes a specific program or service.
The Importance of Strategic Planning
An organization without a strategic plan may have goals and objectives, but the method of achieving them has not been established. Without a strategic plan, organizations have no way of knowing whether or not they have achieved their goals and objectives.
Successful organizations have a clearly defined plan that is discussed among significant members, including stakeholders, employees, and the community. Internal and external influences are taken into account, and decisions are based on fact rather than generalizations.
Strategic Planning Benefits Organizations
Having a clearly defined strategic plan in place has real benefits for an organization. Strategic planning clearly defines the purpose of the organization, establishes realistic goals and objectives that correlate with the organization’s mission, allows diversity of ownership in the plan, ensures the most effective use of resources, provides a foundation by which progress can be measured, and increases productivity from increased efficiency and effectiveness.
The Need for Strategic Planning
The need for strategic planning varies from organization to organization. As a general fuel, new organizations need to adopt a strategic plan. Strategic plans can also benefit organizations that are adding a new department or new services and programs.
HRD Plays a Role in Strategic Planning
Human Resource Devlopment (HRD) needs to be a component of an organization’s overall corporate strategy to ensure the quality of its human capital, which can be greatly enhanced through the effective, efficient, and appealing training it delivers and implements.
The most important factor in determining readiness is whether or not the organizational leaders are devoted to the endeavor and able to contribute the necessary attention to its planning and implementation. There should also be a commitment of sufficient resources for planning and implementation of the strategic plan.
The Strategic Planning Process
A variety of individuals can contribute to the planning process. Include at least one person who has authority to make strategic decisions, involve those who are responsible for writing and implementing the plan, include a representative that will be affected by the plan, and involve someone to administer the process.
Be sure that the planning team is compiled of individuals that represent the organization’s clientele and community. This could include staff, clients, and community members.
Establishing Organizational Goals
Organizational goals indicate future positions that the organization wants to attain. Be sure that these goals reflect the internal environment or restrictions of the organization, without conflicting with the uncontrollable elements of the external environment.
Goals created in the strategic planning process must be attainable and should reflect the organization’s mission and vision.
Strategic planning plays several important roles in an organization. It establishes the direction of the organization in relationship to its goals and objectives, it defines how its objectives are going to be accomplished, and it gives the organization a device to evaluate whether or not it has achieved its goals.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development