Strategic planning is an essential part of any leadership role. Despite the benefits of creating a roadmap outlining where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, however, up to 67% of plans fail to help leaders achieve their intended goals. This statistic highlights the importance of effective planning processes in the success of any organization.
In this guide, we’ll outline a proven 14-step planning process you can use to lead your team to optimal outcomes. By following this process, you can ensure that you see your business strategy through to guide your team to achieve their goals while expanding your organization.
The 14-Step Planning Process for Effective Leaders
Arootah’s 14-step planning process is a comprehensive framework designed to help leaders adopt strategic planning in their routines. By following this process, you can improve your team’s efficiency while inspiring them to work towards accomplishing the same organizational goals.
1. Define Your Objective
As you begin the planning process, it’s critical that you develop a clear picture of what success will look like when you accomplish it and that you understand your desired outcome. The more specific you can be about the finished product you are anticipating, the easier it will be to complete the rest of your plan and communicate it to your team members.
Pro tip: Ensure that your objective is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). These standards will help you remain focused during the planning process. Use this SMART goal format for each of your company’s goals.
2. Identify the Purpose behind the Objective
Without a purpose, you and your team won’t be motivated to complete your goals.
Pro tip: Articulate the purpose of the objective and its importance based on the organization’s mission to ensure it aligns with overall goals and objectives.
As a leader, you don’t have to craft this plan yourself. Leverage your team and their experiences and insights as resources during the early stages of forming your plan.
Pro tip: Encourage creativity and open-mindedness during the brainstorming process to generate a wide range of potential strategies and tactics. The goal is quantity over quality at this stage.
4. Identify Your Resources
Identify the resources you need to achieve your objective. Determine whether you can achieve the objective with the resources you have at your disposal and outline the costs of achieving the goal as well as your projected return on investment (ROI).
Pro tip: Consider financial, human, and technological resources.
5. Decide on Measurement Criteria
Determine how you’ll measure progress toward your goal. Identifying how success will be measured will help keep everyone accountable.
Pro tip: Identify specific metrics and milestones you can use to track progress, measure success, and ultimately evaluate the effectiveness of your planning process.
6. Determine Categories
Organize the strategies and tactics you need to achieve your goal by dividing them into categories. Then, weigh those categories by order of importance.
Pro tip: Design logical categories based on themes or functions to facilitate prioritization and sequencing.
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7. Choose Your Action Items
Make a list of every action item your team needs to complete in order to achieve the goal.
Pro tip: Develop clear and specific action items and assign them to individuals or teams to maintain a sense of accountability and momentum.
8. Prioritize Each Action Item
Determine the order of importance for each action item in each category.
Pro tip: Prioritize the strategies and tactics based on their importance and impact on achieving the objective.
9. Create a Sequence
Establish a realistic, achievable timeline and sequence of tasks based on your prioritization. Give start lines and deadlines for each action item.
Pro tip: Base your timeline and task order on your available resources and priorities. Then, plug these items into a shared team calendar.
10. Delegate Tasks
Effective delegation is one of the most common pitfalls for leaders. Assign tasks to individuals or teams, trust that they’ll complete those tasks with excellence, and be there to provide support when they need it.
Pro tip: Assign tasks to individuals or teams based on their skills, strengths, and availability to ensure effective execution.
11. Schedule Everything in
Now that you’re clear on action items, timelines, and who will be responsible for completing each task, incorporate tasks into a project management system.
Pro tip: Leverage your project management system to track progress, manage timelines, and maintain accountability among team members.
Implement the plan and track the progress of you and your team.
Pro tip: Track progress regularly to ensure you achieve all objectives on time.
13. Measure Progress
Continuously monitor and evaluate progress against the established metrics and milestones to ensure that the plan is on track.
Pro tip: Schedule regular check-in sessions to evaluate the progress you’ve made toward the goal.
As you’re executing your plan, leave room for flexibility. It’s OK to not execute everything perfectly on the first try, so plan to make adjustments along the way.
Pro tip: Continuously review and adjust the plan based on results and feedback to ensure that you achieve your objectives effectively and efficiently.
The Bottom Line
As a leader, simply setting a goal isn’t enough. Creating an effective planning process is the only way to ensure you and your team see your goals through to the finish line.
Great plans help leaders achieve great goals. It’s essential to continuously improve your planning skills to make sure your team is moving in the right direction. If you’re looking to identify your strengths and opportunities for improvement when it comes to strategy and execution, take our free, quick Executive Leadership Proficiency assessment.