Strategic Planning Image

The 9 Steps of Strategic Planning

June 4, 2015

There are few concepts that seem to unnerve today’s internal communication professionals as much as strategic planning. Many communicators perceive the process as time-consuming and complicated, and ask: where do I start? What does it require? How can I help drive the process, and how will I measure success?

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – President John F. Kennedy

Strategic planning can be straightforward, efficient and even fun, providing a roadmap that ensures your efforts have the greatest possible impact. Outlined below are nine basic, successive stages to the process, each one building on the previous:

Step 1: Situation analysis
Define the “current state” or your organization – its challenges, environment, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Leverage existing data (surveys, interviews, focus groups).

Step 2: Future state vision
Envision the ideal future – how you want the communication environment to look, feel and operate a year from now. Consider the following areas: messaging, content, tools & channels, processes, leader and manager communication, reputation, culture, roles, your team, partnerships, measurement.

Step 3: Prioritize vision elements
Looking at your vision, identify the key 3-5 elements that need to be addressed first to arrive at your desired future.

Step 4: Develop communication objectives
Translate those 3-5 elements into specific objectives that can be achieved through your concrete actions.

Step 5: Develop strategies and tactics
Brainstorm a range of potential strategies to achieve each of those objectives, and a short list of tactics to support each strategy.

Step 6: Prioritize strategies and tactics
Develop consensus and finalize the chosen strategies and tactics for your team and/or organization to pursue.

Step 7: Define metrics, timelines and responsibilities
Create the detail behind those strategies and tactics – who will be responsible, with what resources and timeframes, and how success will be measured.

Step 8: Develop strategic and tactical plans
Capture the content in a written plan, and refine as needed.

Step 9: Implementation and beyond
Execute the plan, measure your success on a quarterly basis and make adjustments as needed.

Strategic planning, in reality, can be as simple as following a nine step roadmap. With an ever increasing business focus on internal communication, communication professionals can approach strategic planning with confidence.