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Roadmap to Strategic Planning

It’s About the Journey, AND the Destination!

The other day I was asked about the difference between mission and vision for an organization. It made me reflect on the core elements of strategic planning, which always reminds me of travel. Who doesn’t like to travel and see the world, right? All trips have key elements in common: a starting point, a plan of where you will go, a mode of travel, stopping points along the way, and the destination. Strategic planning components move in a similar form:

  • Mission – the starting point

  • Vision – where we plan to go

  • Core Values/Focus – the method of getting us to the endpoint

  • Strategic Goals – stop overs or check-ins along the way

  • Action Plan – Like the road map, once this is put into action, it brings us to the destination

Just like a well-planned trip, it takes all of the key elements to put together a great strategic plan.

Mission – the starting point of any good planning is found in the mission. The mission sums up who we are and what we do. A good mission statement helps keep the stakeholders of the organization focused on what the organization is all about. It is foundational to the building of the culture of the organization. In order to be effective, it must be a real reflection of what we are about in an organization and how we define what we do. The mission is the basis for everything that takes place.

Vision – Without a vision for the future, the future of the organization is limited in scope. We all have hopes, dreams and aspirations, whether it be in our personal or professional lives, things we aspire to do, goals or experiences we yearn to achieve, for ourselves or those we are close to. The same holds true for organizations. The leadership of any organization must have a big picture vision that encompasses where the organization can be in one, three and five years, as well as a dream for ten years down the road. In the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, “It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.” The long view is what vision is all about, what we see or hope to achieve in the future.

Core Values and Focus – The core values and focus provide the basis for what takes us from the initial mission to the evolving vision. To have a clear vision, you must maintain focus. Although we now have autofocus for all of our devices, and rarely manually focus a camera for vision, it is important that we are not on autofocus in working towards the vision of our organization. In striving towards the vision, we must maintain fidelity to the core values that are the backbone of the organizational mission.

Strategic Goals – Along the journey, from the starting point to the destination, there are checkpoints, layovers, jumping off spots. The strategic goals provide these checkpoints on the way to making the vision a reality. If we want to be at the destination on Monday, where will we be on Friday or Saturday? The long-term vision will have interim goals, maybe every six months, maybe one, three, and five years, depending on the organization and the long vision. Each of these points must be monitored and adjusted as needed, to maintain focus on the vision without compromising values.

Action Plan – As someone who still likes real paper maps, I always think of the action plan as the roadmap for the organization. Planning for a long road trip involves mapping out the journey to get to the final destination. Just as any good trip is worth planning for, the achievement of the vision of the organization is worth mapping out in detail and working towards. The action plan takes us to the strategic goals along the way and when well executed, is like the roadmap and will take you from the initial mission to the ultimate vision. Setting out without an action plan, is like driving across country with no roadmap (not even google maps on your phone!). Make sure your vision is mapped out, so that even with unexpected stops and detours, the ultimate destination is within reach.

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.”

Archbishop Oscar Romero

#mission #vision #focus #strategicplanning