Those using S.M.A.R.T. strategic planning methods understand that “Strategy” is not a one-time event that takes place at the end or the beginning of a year. It is an ongoing process that does not have an end. It’s a built-in continuous improvement program that should be everyone’s responsibility within the organization. It is the same process of improvement that strategic consultants and executives apply, and yet somehow the thought of developing a strategic plan remains an overly complex and dreaded task for many organizations.

The best strategic plans are those that are executed with precision. A core strategy – or centric purpose – should drive every aspect of your organization. It should not be isolated to senior leaders because a successful strategy needs to be implemented throughout the entire organization! All successful strategies in the world are a complete waste of time if they are not implemented. Truly, a strategy is successful when everyone up and down the organization can articulate the plan – in their own words – and knows how to apply it to their specific role and responsibilities.

Examples of Smart and Not So Smart Strategic Planning

For an organization or department…

   Not SMART – “Improve attendance at our ABC Training Program.”

   SMART – “Achieve and maintain a 10% increase in attendance at least three sessions (out of a possible 5 sessions) on our annual ABC Training Program by 10/2015.”

For a steering committee…

   Not SMART – “Create our 2015 strategic plan.”

   SMART – “Create our 2015 strategic plan, obtain final approval from the Executive Committee, and discuss it with our department heads so individuals can begin setting their performance objectives by 3/15/15.”

   Not SMART – “Improve customer service skills.”

   SMART – “Take the Customer Service Essentials workshop on 5/10/2015, provide feedback to associated team by 6/28/2015, and apply the relevant concepts while implementing our current steering committee.”

For a marketing department…

   Not SMART – “Send out welcome letters to our new training attendees.”

   SMART – “Prepare welcome letter and review with at least 10 different corporate customer leaders, take comments back to department and edit accordingly, and send letter to all new training participants by 3/15/2015.”

   Not SMART – “Be more receptive to coaching suggestions and feedback.”

   SMART – “At our monthly progress meetings, ask for feedback on what you are doing well and what things to improve. Keep a notebook with this information, try out the suggestions, and document each week what worked and what didn’t.”

For forming a set of strategic partnerships…

   Not SMART – “Keep our department’s strategic partnerships up-to-date.”

   SMART – “Identify 20 new strategic training partners and vendors, eliminate those that are not compatible with our program methodology; discuss with remaining candidates to determine final selection and complete agreements by 3/15/2015.”

A smart strategy will provide you with the basis for a sound strategic plan that can lead to significant growth. If your organization is going to survive the many market changes and fierce competition it faces, you need to plan and manage with the clearest path from Point A to Point B you can muster.