Strategic Planning: What It Is and How to Do It

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Strategic planning it is a competence of management that helps managers to think about the long term of an organization. Some crucial items and steps for the strategic plan are: mission, vision, objectives, goals, creation of action plans and their subsequent monitoring.

In this article we will talk about:

See also some complementary methods to Strategic Planning:

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What is Strategic Plan?

The human being has an incredible ability to focus on what is urgent and to solemnly forget what is important. Think about your routine. How many times do you sit down to plan? If your answer is "many times", it is to be congratulated. A normal human being is putting out fires. Solve a customer problem, help a friend excel, do everything that needs to be done "on the spot". But it does not reflect on what he wants two years from now, for example.

Especially at the beginning of our careers, we get used to doing what appears to be done. Let's take it like this until you realize that the only way to get anywhere is with planning: goals, goals, values, difficult decisions. O strategic planning results is the same, but at the level of a company.

At the beginning of the business, managers are worried about selling, delivering and surviving. Over time, one realizes that, what is being done is "sell lunch to buy dinner". Without stopping to think about important and non-urgent activities, the long-term outcome will never improve. And here we are not talking about billing millions and creating an empire. Planning is also important for those who seek peace of mind.

In this article, I will explain to you the format that I like most in a strategic planning:

  • 1 Step - Positioning and Purpose - definition of the company's organizational culture
  • Step 2 - Goals, Goals and Indicators - quantifying growth
  • Step 3 - Presentation and sharing - It's time to motivate!
  • Step 4 - Execution and monitoring - putting your hand in the dough!

Strategic Planning Worksheet

1 Step - Positioning and Purpose

The first big step in strategic planning is to design the organizational identity of the company. Generally speaking, culture represents the answer to the questions:

  • Why does the company exist?
  • Where does she want to go?
  • Who will take her there?

This phase of the strategic plan is undervalued by many managers. But it is very important because it will be the basis of the objectives and goals defined in the next steps, in addition to influencing all the company's attitudes in the future.

1.1. The organizational identity

We did a full article explaining the meaning of mission, vision and values. So here I will show in summary form:

  1. Mission: Purpose, essence of the company
  2. Vision: The dream of the company
  3. Corporate: Practices practiced / desired to fulfill the essence and realize the dream

Examples of these items in our strategic planning worksheet:

Strategic Plan: mission and vision

The mission

It is purpose organization. It should not simply be linked to the product, but the essence, something that sets it apart from all competitors. Why does the company exist?

Mission examples:

Mission Examples

  • Bakery
    • Good example: delivering food that will make family gatherings unforgettable
    • Bad example: selling the best breads and snack items in the region

The good example bakery will invest more and more in creating an environment that integrates people and will differentiate itself, perhaps even creating a coffee in there. The bad example bakery has a mission equal to all bakeries in the world.

  • Small Consulting
    • Good example: transforming the local economy through the management of small businesses
    • Bad example: selling and delivering large management consulting projects

The same thing is seen in the consulting example. One is concerned about developing the local economy and generating even more opportunities. Another position was similar to all other consultancies.

What is not explicit here is that it is much easier to hire, develop and motivate employees who value family moments and want to propagate it than bread sellers. The same goes for consulting. If this part of planning is not done out of the mouth, the companies of good examples are much more likely to succeed.

The rule number 1 of strategic management is to never hire someone who does not believe in the purpose of the company

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The vision

It is dream of the organization. It differs from a goal, due to ambitious and long-term character. A bakery could have as goal, for example, to increase 10% of the billing the following year, but this would never be his vision.

The vision would be something more aspirational as it become the largest network of state bakeries in 10 years, opening new branches.

Examples of Vision

The same goes for the small consultancy. It may have several goals, but the vision of it should be something like turning 5 small businesses into big companies in 20 years. Something the whole team was proud to look for. Where does the company want to go?

The values

We believe in values ​​as attitudes to be shown by the team that can take the company their vision. In the example of the bakery that wants to make family gatherings unforgettable, it would not make sense to hire individualistic or carefree people with their own family.

Already to reach the vision of becoming the largest network in the state and open franchises, it would be important to have as values ​​the ambition and discipline to implement and follow processes.

The most important thing in the case of values ​​is defining what they mean within the company. For example, proactivity. The word is beautiful, but what do you want to see in people about it?

  • Proactivity:
    • Solve a customer's problem before consulting management
    • If you anticipate and contact suppliers before stock shortages
    • Keeping the work environment clean without waiting for someone to do it

In addition to defining the desirable attitudes, remember to define the undesirable ones.

The example of LUZ

For this not to be very comprehensive and you do not understand what I am saying, let's position the LIGHT:

Developing companies through the best management tools and practices

This simple phrase guides our day to day business. Through it, we can expand and think about what we want the company to become, what we will prioritize and more.

If we want to develop Brazil through tools, we have to make sure that we actually do quality worksheets and this has to be in our goals, objectives and values.

Either way, regardless of the path you choose, it is important to have some guides that will make your strategic plan be much better and better used (followed) by everyone in your company.

1.2. Participative Planning

Whatever the purpose of your company, we always recommend carrying out participatory planning, that is, carry out the entire planning process in conjunction with your entire company.

If your company is too large, this process can be done first at the board level and then cascaded for each area. In this case, the most important members fulfill the strategic part of the plan: organizational identity and global goals.

Then, leaders of business units and departments sit down with their teams to do the tactical planning. That is, to define each one's contributions to global goals.

If it is a smaller company in number of members (as LUZ is), it is quite possible to use all of them to reach a common destination. Thus, when the time comes for execution, everyone will have an integrated vision and be committed to their decisions.

Participatory Planning Meeting

In other words, it is a way of dividing not only the tasks, but the process of choosing which path the company will follow. Who feels ownership of something, takes better care, makes more love and dedicates more. Will a contributor fight more to hit a goal that was imposed on him or one that he helped define?

If you are in doubt about how to make your planning participatory, try joining your entire team together in a room (or auditorium) for a brainstorming or opinion-taking. After that, do each of the steps we are raising here until you get the results you want.

For the process not to get confused, I recommend that you be named responsible for the plan. They can be business partners, directors or even a standout team just for that.

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1.3. Auxiliary tools

The level of preliminary knowledge you lead to planning tends to improve the quality of it. There are some tools that can help map the scenario before setting goals, objectives, and action plans.

SWOT Analysis

For this, it is possible to analyze your internal and external environments using SWOT analysis and the business diagnosis. It is worth noting the company's position in the market and its strengths and weaknesses that will help or hinder the pursuit of goals.

A strong point is considered a competitive advantage when it is rare (not everyone does), valuable (generates perception of desire in the client), unprecedented (or non-copiable) and non-replaceable.

Value Curve

The value curve is nothing more than a comparison with your competitors in relation to attributes valued by the public. It is a valuable element before defining how the company can differentiate itself.

Strategic Planning: What It Is and How to Do 1Strategic Planning Worksheet

Step 2 - Objectives, Goals and Indicators

The second major step of a strategic plan is the development of strategic objectives. Each of these great goals should be divided into smaller goals (so-called tactics) and tactical goals should have action plans attached to it for it to be considered completed.

Following more or less this chain:

  1. Strategic objectives
  2. Tactical Goals
  3. Action plans

An example of how some of these items work can be seen in our strategic planning worksheet. In it, you first define the overall goals of the company, then part to the goals of the areas, departments or business units, as shown below.

Strategic Planning: Goals and Indicators

For example, you define the area of ​​interest (in the first case, we cite the financial area) and place the indicators (revenue, profitability, etc.). In a later step you can add the goals for these indicators.

See in the image below that when you plot your actual goals (planned), it is much easier to do any kind of follow-up. In this case, in the strategic planning worksheet. we see month by month the evolution of our metrics and indicators:

Strategic planning

To set the best goals possible, it is worth to understand the concept of SMART goals:

2.1. SMART Goals

SMART is a tool used to define goals and objectives within a project. Used not only by companies, but also by people who want to achieve their goals, SMART is an acronym as shown in the image below:

Strategic Planning: What It Is and How to Do 2

In order not to leave you in the dark, let's go a little deeper into the SMART concept:

1. Specific: Always be specific about what you want to achieve

2. Measurable: It is the ability to measure a goal. Being measurable becomes basically the fact that you always get indicators to measure results.

3. Achievable: Having a goal greater than the capacity of a business becomes irrelevant to the realization of these, because it is no use to dream high and not have the resources necessary to achieve a certain goal.

4. Relevant: What is the importance of such an action? What will add such action to the company? At this point, the objectives must be aligned with the current reality of the company in the market.

5. Based on time: Time to start certain action and time for a given goal to be achieved. Stipulating a time-out for these factors is paramount to the success of a project.

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Practical example of SMART Goals

Let's look at an example of a company that wants to increase its revenue by 15% in a year. Therefore, we have:

Specific: Increase billing

Measurable: in 15%

Achievable: Within the company's reality, growth currently reaches 12% per year, so it is possible to reach the 15% with marketing actions and creation of new products for example.

Relevant: 15% will represent the highest company turnover in the last 5 years.

Time: About 7,5 hrs in total, 4,5 hrs to go up and 3 to come down Start the process to reach the goal in November this year and determine the 1 year deadline to achieve it.

In this way, by breaking up the objectives using SMART goals, it is possible to obtain a vision of how and when the goals will be achieved.

Strategic Planning Worksheet

2.2. Dashboard

If you have already defined your “objective goals”, you are ready to follow them with your indicators, which are the tools used to measure the results of a company, based on the desired situation and the current situation.

The best way to organize your results information is with a good scoreboard (also called dashboards).

Strategic Planning Worksheet Charts

See the example of these results demonstrated in our strategic planning worksheet:

Screenshot 2014 12-to-16 17.51.21

Strategic planning

Step 3 - Presentation and Sharing

With everything organized, it makes a lot of sense for you to give a presentation so that your entire company is aligned. Having all your employees, managers and directors on the same page can be a great differentiator when it comes to putting planning into practice.

Some important slides that can be presentation of strategic plan are:

  • Mission, vision and values

Presentation of strategic planning: mission

  • Established goals
  • Defined objectives
  • Action plans
  • Strategic map

Strategic planning presentation: map

  • Reviews

Although it does not have to be a formal presentation in an auditorium, I strongly recommend that a powerpoint or a very aspirational document be prepared and sent to the entire team. The quality of how strategic planning will be communicated has a full impact on the success of the strategic plan.

Normally, to motivate even more, it is in this presentation that the bonuses and dividends (depending on the forum) are also presented at the end of the year, if the goals are beaten.

By following these steps, your company will be ready for the fourth step.

Strategic Planning Worksheet

4 Step - Execution and Control

If you've followed our step by step talking about strategic planning so far, you already:

  1. It has a direction of what it wants to do as a company and knows its purpose (which may or may not be tangibilizado in its mission, vision and values)
  2. Organized your goals (goals) in a SMART way and has defined indicators for each of these goals
  3. Achieve the alignment of the entire company in pursuit of the objectives that will be sought

4.1. Execution of Strategic Planning

We have reached our fourth step in strategic planning, which is focused on the execution of what was planned. This is the hands-on moment.

GUT Matrix

What you need to do is think about actions, use the GUT array and set priorities for them to materialize. See the image below:

5w2h Action Plan

For the goal of lowering the debt value, we defined an action (we put action 1,2 and 3). After that we define the responsible team, the deadline (month and year) of completion and the status of development.

Action Plans 5W2H

It is worth knowing one of the most interesting methods of stock control, the 5W2H methodology to transform strategy into action plan. This method references the initials of English words:

1- What? (What): Refers to the task to be performed (problem to be solved).

2 - Why? Why?: Direction in which the task should be performed.

3- How? (How): Refers to how the action will be performed and completed.

4- Who? (Who): Who will perform the task. If it is something that requires more people, then one should think about which team will be responsible.

5- When? (When): Retract the time to perform the task. At this point, it is recommended to set the start, middle, and end time to measure accuracy and efficiency.

6- Where? (Onde): Displays where the job will be performed.

7- How much? How much: At this stage it is necessary to evaluate if there will be expenses to carry out the task.

Obviously, you do not need to fill all these fields always, just keep in mind what is most important to you. In our case, we only put what (action), who (responsible area), when (deadlines) and progress.

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4.2. Review of the Strategic Plan

As important as execution are revisions. We know that not everything that is planned follows the direction we would like and is concluded on time, within the budget or the same way you want.

Worse than that, sometimes your entire reality can change from one moment to another, and at these times it is important to be aware and reviewing your actions to take new actions promptly.

Therefore, we consider that periodic reviews are a key part of aligning any deviations that may occur along the way.

As we live in a very dynamic LIGHT, weekly meetings of areas, monthly with the whole company and quarterly / semiannually review the entire strategic planning.

The required frequency of reviews should be stipulated according to each company. Therefore, there is no rule to be followed as to the number or frequency of planning reviews, as what really matters is to do them when necessary.

Strategic Planning Worksheet

Conclusion and extra tips

Following a planning with discipline, using an efficiently proven methodology (we approve the 4 steps presented here) and managing to align the company's perspectives with its purpose, there is no doubt that your company will follow a much better way.

I hope you enjoyed. If I can leave a thought to you it is that the habit of planning is as important as that of executing what was planned.

It's no use making miraculous plans if you do not put everything into practice. So always keep these 4 steps in mind for good planning.

To close with the golden key, I really like this quote from William Hague, I hope it inspires you in your planning and execution - "There is only one strategy for growth: Hard Work"

Video: how to do a Strategic Planning:

To use this article as a bibliographic reference:

Filippo Ghermandi, Strategic Planning: what it is and how to do. Available in: Access in: (day, month and year)

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  1. I liked it until the end leaving it ready for use as a bibliographical reference.

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