"Good sales people aren't motivated by money......they are driven by it. Create a sales compensation plan that will drive your sales force to high levels of performance."

"A failure to plan is ultimately a plan to fail......some form of strategic planning is evident in virtually all successful businesses."

Simplified Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is typically thought to consist of a very exact set of steps and processes. However, there several ways to approach this important and sometimes confusing process. It is best to think of strategic planning as a methodology by which a specific roadmap is established for growing a viable and strong business or organization.

In reviewing the performance of organizations, it is always interesting to note that those businesses that perform at the highest levels have some sort of formalized strategic plan in place and have implemented it well. On the other hand, those businesses that struggle have no plan in place and seem to flounder in their attempts to be successful. A strategic plan helps to provide direction and focus for all employees. It points to specific results that are to be achieved and establishes a course of action for achieving them. A strategic plan also helps the various work units within an organization to align themselves with common goals.

Arguably, the leading cause of business failure is not having a strategic plan in place that is being well implemented. If a business has little idea where it is headed, it will wander aimlessly with priorities changing constantly and employees confused about the purpose of their jobs. Very often a strategic plan is lacking because management simply believes the process is too lengthy, time consuming and/or complex. Granted, many books on the subject and many consultants make the process seem complicated and time consuming. But there are approaches that create what we refer to as simplified strategic planning.

Building a strategic plan is not difficult. It will take some thought and some feedback from customers and others, but businesses should be routinely garnering feedback from appropriate constituent groups on an ongoing basis. The process of developing a simplified strategic plan should be rewarding for all involved and usually helps develop stronger communications between members of the planning team.

Simplified strategic planning is so named because the process employed strips out much of the overhead associated with many planning methodologies. Keep in mind that the most important outcome of strategic planning is the development of goals, objectives, strategies and tactics that can be used to create a common focus and instill accountability for results. Too often the planning process is allowed to become a tedious and cumbersome exercise that sometimes results in frustration and even abandonment of the plan's development.

Simplified strategic planning essentially requires the same elements or components to be developed, but it encourages rapid development of goals, objectives, strategies and tactics by utilizing available data, information and expertise. It discourages creating a layered infrastructure for planning and it discourages over thinking and over analyzing most things.

Any business or non-profit organization that undertakes strategic planning should understand the steps necessary to develop and implement the plan. Following a template, tool or guide that encourages simplified strategic planning, but that includes all of the necessary steps is a good way to approach your planning process.

Once developed, the key to making the plan work is a commitment to seeing it through along with sound implementation. Many businesses have developed strategic plans only to put them on a shelf to gather dust. Managers need a well developed strategic plan in order to effectively establish expectations for their employees. Without a plan, expectations are developed in a void and there is little or no alignment with common goals. A good strategic plan looks out 2 to 5 years and describes clearly how the business will grow and prosper over that planning horizon.

If you would like more information about how to approach simplified strategic planning, visit mybusinessbooks.com. There you can order your copy of the widely used Strategic Planning Workbook which provides detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to develop your strategic plan in an efficient and effective manner.