Some years ago, when I was first starting my career in management and business, I was given a scenario in an interview and asked how I would formulate my plan. I gave my answer and the interviewer said that he disagreed. He said that your goal is determining where you want to be and considering where you are. The work involved is figuring out how to get there, and that is your plan. Of course, I was a bit embarrassed having been placed on the spot but I have never forgotten those words.
The statement was basic in its delivery but it was accurate and provided insight. Now when I am beginning a project, I determine where myself or my team needs to be and then examine where we are. The real work of strategic planning can then begin. Below are four things to consider when undertaking strategic planning.
Goal- A goal can be to improve productivity, implement a new program, or provide better customer service. General goals for example for a budget office might be ‘to provide budget information with completeness and accuracy’. Establishing goals will provide targeted tangibles to accomplish.
Guides-It is important to have guides along the way to make sure that you are staying on track and not veering off into another direction. Getting off track and having to adjust will waste time and money as you realign your efforts back toward the main goal. Types of guides can be; a department or agency mission statement, company values, stated objectives.
Assets- The most important assets to an organization is its people. It is important for a manager to accurately assess the skills of their employees to determine how those skills will be used to reach the intended goal. The manager should assess the aggregate skillset of their team and then set realistic goals.
Measurements-using the budget example previously mentioned, the particular budget office may be at a 95 percent accuracy rate. From this point, the office can chart how they are progressing on working toward that goal. There are metrics that measure many types of progress so a manager should evaluate which metrics are most pertinent.
Strategic planning is necessary to guide a department or agency into the future. Comparing where we are to where we need to be can stimulate ideas for steps and strategies involved in the formulation of a plan. A manager or team can then implement their plan as they move ahead toward their goals.