Does your department or your organization have a strategy? An actual document that sets out the criteria and guiding principles that everyone should be using to make choices? This is what’s known as a strategy, a set of guiding principles that people can follow.

Most organizations have a “strategy” filled with a whole collection of projects and priorities which is not helpful to anyone when trying to reach a common goal. This doesn’t allow space to think, “When I come to this situation, what is the best decision for my team and the company as a whole?” Instead, it forces people to rush to get one project done because they know they have a list of others to complete.

When you don’t have a strategy, it makes it much harder to prioritize and make daily calls for everyone in your organization. Having the strategy allows you to take scarce resources and apply them to the most valuable things in your organization, so you can to capitalize on opportunities and reduce risks.

If you’re thinking, “Oh no, I don’t have a strategy”, then don’t worry! I’m going to show you some questions that you can ask to facilitate your own strategic planning conversations. They’ll get you into some really interesting discussions.

Setting Your North Star

Firstly, you want to set up your North Star. This is a star that everyone can see up in the sky and walk towards. In strategic planning, your North Star is composed of two different things: your purpose and your goals.

Understand Your Purpose

Understanding what your organization’s purpose is is essential when creating a strategy plan. You need to think about why your organization exists and what it provides to the world. This can be anything from trying to create a world without fossil fuels to facilitating strong business connections virtually. Whatever it is for your organization, you need to be aware of it and ready to put it into your strategy.

Getting clear on your purpose is very interesting. I remember a strategic conversation I had with a free daily newspaper. As we were working together, it quickly became clear that they didn’t understand what their purpose was.

Was it to provide news and information to their target market? Meaning they would then need to find advertisers willing to pay for space in their type of newspaper. Or, was their purpose to exist for the businesses that were trying to find a way of reaching a specific audience?

These are two very different purposes and their strategic goals would look very different depending on how they answered the question. This proves that understanding your own organization’s fundamental purpose is really important when trying to create strategic goals as it influences your next steps in this process.

Figure Out Which Strategic Goals Make Sense for Your Business

The second step in setting your North Star is figuring out what your strategic goals could actually be. These shouldn’t just concern if your business is healthy today, this month, or even this year, but should deal more with measuring the health and success of your business going into the future. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Have we future-proofed our organization?
  • Have we made it less likely that we will be taken over by a competitor?
  • Have we made it less likely that we will be disrupted by new technologies that we haven’t seen coming yet?
  • Have we protected against commoditization?
  • Have we capitalized on massive opportunities that are coming in the environment?

These questions can help you to understand your organization in a different way and allow you to successfully plan futuristic strategic goals.

When it Comes to Strategic Goals, Less is More

You only really need two or three strategic goals, that’s it! Sometimes organizations cannibalize something so that they are the only ones who create the new market, instead of letting someone disrupt or overtake them. If this goal is something that you would trade off against another organization for, then, and only then, should this be at the top of your strategy picture. Strategy makes a huge difference in helping people prioritize and focus on the right things within their organization.

If you don’t currently have a strategic plan or set of goals, then begin with a conversation. Find out why your organization exists and what are a couple of things that in say three years need to materialize so that you are “future-proof”, and that overall make you a strategically healthier organization.

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