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November 5, 2023

Aspirant Strategic Planning Process

Aspirant Digital Agency

It will be tough to tell how well you're performing if you aren't clear on what you're trying to achieve. Taking time to define and document your company's strategy will establish priorities and simplify decision-making. Here are our recommendations for how to get started.

The scope of this framework may seem overwhelming at first, but we compiled a cheat sheet to consolidate the tips below and provide an editable template to guide you every step of the way. This is available for free download via the button toward the bottom of this page.

 

Aspirant Comprehensive Strategic Framework

 

Conceptual Strategy - Building a Strategic Identity

The conceptual elements of a strategic framework increase in relevance along with the size of a company. Big corporations invest a ton of time and money into carefully crafting this 'strategic identity' due to the role it plays in attracting investors, motivating employees, and inspiring customers.

This is also a worthwhile exercise for any company, though many can get by with a much more streamlined effort. The intention is to establish some ideas that are directionally / thematically accurate as a starting point for building out the Practical components (which we explore below). Any initial versions are very likely to be revised as your company's perspective and priorities evolve over time. Depending on organizational preferences and the nature of your business, it may make sense to only publish a portion (or none) of your company's strategic identity.

 

Mission: Why do we exist?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • Focused on, and designed to resonate with, the market / stakeholders you intend to serve.
  • Inclusive of key differentiators from the competition.
  • Concise, clear, authentic, and inspiring.
  • Serves as the cornerstone for the strategic framework that will dictate how the company operates.

Examples

  • Microsoft:  To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
  • AirBnB:  To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
  • Coca-Cola:  To refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit.

Vision: What do we want to be?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • Focused on your organization’s aspirations for the future.
  • Motivational to internal stakeholders such as employees and investors.
  • Cites goals that are specific enough for progress to be measured over time.
  • Fosters a collective sense of purpose for all roles across the organization.

Examples

  • Netflix:  The best global entertainment distribution service.
  • Uber:  Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.
  • Visa:  Uplift everyone, everywhere by being the best way to pay and be paid.

Values: What do we want to be?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • Relevant to all internal and external relationships.
  • Supportive of building trust among colleagues and customers.
  • Inclusive and applicable across all functions, departments, and levels of responsibility.
  • Create contextual expectations for how the organization will pursue its stated Mission and Vision.

Examples

   Transparency    Authenticity    Responsibility    Accountability    Sustainability
   Inclusivity    Collaboration    Quality    Leadership    Perseverance
   Integrity    Respect    Empathy    Humility    Fun
 

 

Purpose: What impact will we make?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • Reflects organizational values and beliefs.
  • Sometimes includes broader stakeholder groups such as the local or global community.
  • Least common component of a strategic identity.

Examples

  • American Family Insurance: We’re dedicated to inspiring, protecting and restoring your dream.
  • Ford Motor Company: Drive human progress through freedom of movement.
  • United Airlines: Connecting people. Uniting the world.

 

Practical Strategy - Planning for Action

The next step is translating the conceptual into the practical. At each level:

  • From all the ideas of what you 'could do', identify what will have the most direct / efficient impact.
  • Maintain linear continuity from one layer to the next: Goals -> Objectives -> Strategies -> Tactics
  • Consolidate and revise ideas as needed to ensure that initiatives are mutually exclusive.
  • Realize that you can't do everything all at once. Be realistic on what can be accomplished with the available resources.
  • Document the initiatives you intend to pursue on the template, listed in priority order.
  • Create a 'parking lot' to capture deprioritized initiatives for future consideration.

 

Goals: What do we intend to achieve?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • With the conceptual components of your strategic framework in mind, identify what is most important for your company to accomplish.
  • Goals should be quite general, as supporting initiatives will get increasingly specific at each subsequent level.
  • Creating overarching themes such as Financial, Operational, and Societal could be helpful in categorizing Goals.
  • You could end up with multiple Goals under a single theme.

Examples

   Improve Profitability    Build Brand Equity    Recruit Cooperative Partners    
   Improve Operational Efficiency    Claim Market Share    Develop Employee Skills    
   Improve Corporate Citizenship    Reduce Carbon Footprint    Diversify Product Offering    

 

Objectives: What specific outcomes do we seek?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • Determine the primary drivers of each Goal that you can influence.
  • Progress against a given Objective could impact more than one Goal, but they can only be assigned to one.
  • Choose a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) that will serve as a gauge for performance, ideally a quantifiable measure.
  • Select a challenging, yet feasible, target KPI value to reach within the specified time frame (usually an annual horizon).

Strategies: How do we intend to do it?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • Determine the primary methods by which each KPI will be achieved.
  • Strategies under each Objective should be complementary to one another; however, it is possible to have a Strategy that negatively affects a different Objective.

Tactics: What is our plan for doing it?

Considerations / Best Practices

  • Identify prioritized, actionable workstreams that support each Strategy.
  • Descriptions for each Tactic should be as specific as possible, depending on the scope of the underlying subtasks.
  • Document any deprioritized Tactics separately for future consideration.

 

Getting started: Begin the journey

Be sure to download our free Strategic Planning Cheat Sheet. It provides all the tips and templates to guide through each step of this strategic planning process.

 

Download Strategic Planning Cheat Sheet

 

All these components and considerations may seem daunting, but there is inherent value in forcing yourself to establish specific goals and thinking through how you will go about achieving them. Your strategic framework will be invaluable in keeping resources focused directly on what you are trying to accomplish.

The biggest opportunity for most businesses lies in their marketing. Click here for our steps in translating your company strategy into a marketing strategy.

 

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How Aspirant can help

Experts familiar with these methodologies and frameworks can ask right the questions to guide you through the process. Our support dramatically accelerates and improves the output by flattening the learning curve and keeping you on track.

We are proud to have helped clients of all sizes, maturities, and industries reach their goals. Use the form below to request a free exploratory discussion about how we can do the same for your organization. 

 

 

We'd love to help you chart a course for success.

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Aspirant has deep consulting expertise across many sectors. We strive to elevate our clients’ performance by delivering practical, holistic, and sustainable solutions to their most significant challenges. Our thought leaders provide rich insights and perspectives on the latest trends and industry news.

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