Phase Zero: Preparing for Strategic Planning

Preparing for the dive into the strategic planning process, you need to make sure that your organization is ready for the change that is about to take place. There are a few things that you need to take care of:

  • Bring together a planning team that can head the entire process for your business.
  • Create a schedule for your company to follow as they're transitioning into this process.
  • Gather all the necessary documents that your company is going to need to implement your new processes accurately and effectively.

The start of this transition may take one to two weeks, depending on the current efficiency of your company.

Before Phase one

  • Complete readiness assessment.
  • Outline of the strategy team's roles and responsibilities.
  • Establish a timeline for the strategic planning process.
  • Inventory all existing and relevant strategy data.
  • Identify gaps in data and develop an action plan to fill them.

It is key to ensure that your company meets the conditions and criteria to implement a review of its strategy. Is now a suitable time for your organization to undergo a strategic planning process? Would there be a better time in the future to prepare for such a task? If not now, when?

Being fully transparent with these questions is vital. Reviewing your company's strategy is exciting, but you can risk your company's success if you don't plan properly and with the right planning team.


“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”
― Idowu Koyenikan

What goes into a good planning team?

A good planning team is going to be the driving force behind your organization's strategic planning process. These are the members going to the forefront of your business's strategy. 

  • Team members who show promise as leaders in their departments.
  • A level of diversity among departments for your planning team.
    • This allows for different perspectives and ideas to flow freely, creating a planning team of people who only say "Yes" will only lead to failure.

Once you've drafted your team, you need to ensure that each team member is aware of their roles and responsibilities within the team. In addition, everyone should know who each other is and what everyone else's roles are within the team and how they will interact. 

An option is to designate one individual as the 'Strategy Director.' This is the individual who will lead the team and help steer the group in the right direction to develop strategies for the company.

Drafting a planning schedule

It is vital the team meets more often during the first few months. After the schedule and expectations are established, spacing meetings is ideal, quarterly, and yearly progress reports are recommended. If you fall behind or get ahead of your schedule don't panic, simply adjust to the progress that has or hasn't occurred and shift the timeline appropriately.

You're about to make some changes, so you need to necessary documents to make the right changes. You're going to need to look for important financial documents, organizational documents, and other papers that you think could help you and your planning team determine what to change within your organization.

Here are some of the documents we recommend that you gather:

  • The last strategic plan that your company put together.
  • Your company's mission statement.
  • Your company's vision statement.
  • Your company's values statement.
  • Your company's business plan, in full.
  • The organization's financial records for the past few years.
  • Your business' marketing plan.
  • The most recent SWOT analysis for your business.
  • Any sales figures and projections that your business may have.
  • Other information you find pertinent for this business-wide change.

As you can see, there is a lot to look at here. It may seem overwhelming but bringing all this information together can help you and your employees look at the organization's big picture.

Now, it's time to look at and review all the data that you've collected. It's not enough to look at everything that you've gathered.

You need to understand it in terms of your company's strategies and goals. In other words, you need to sit with the Strategy Director and determine whether your organization has been following the goals and strategies you last set forth.

You should also note any general trends you see in the data. This can help you spot strengths and weaknesses within the company.

The more in-depth you review your company's record, the better set you'll be to make plans for the company during the actual strategic planning process. Understanding the purpose of the strategic planning process before continuing, it's pertinent that you understand why you've completed all these steps. Also, you should understand the role that setting up all your documents plays.

The purpose of forming a strategic plan lies in a company being able to survive change over time. Whether the change is anticipated or not, your company should be able to stay stable no matter what happens. By developing and executing a strategic plan, your company is setting itself up for success.

It's not all easy, however. The hardest part of strategic planning comes with future changes. As you're using your strategic plan, your planning committee may note that some things aren't working like you hoped they would. This means that your team needs to change its strategy.

Some organizations expect that these changes only need to be made every year. However, every organization is different. You should change your strategy as soon as you notice something is wrong, regardless of how far away from the starting point you are. 

But, with everything prepared it's time to begin Phase One