How to Develop Your Strategic Planning Skills

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning refers to the ability to establish a long-range direction for the organization or unit, set broad goals that align with the direction, and identify the means to reach those goals.

The Importance of Strategic Planning

Aggregate data from SIGMA’s consulting engagements has shown that out of all 50 competencies in SIGMA’s Leadership Competency Framework, “strategic planning” is the second most sought after. What that means is that when organizations hire or promote new leaders, strategic planning is one of the key strengths they look for in potential candidates.

How to Practice Strategic Planning On-the-Job

Would you like to begin developing your strategic planning skills? Below are eight on-the-job activities you can use to help you get started. We strongly recommend that you do not try all of these at once; start by picking one activity and pace yourself from there. Depending on your schedule it might only be feasible to do one activity per week. Note that some activities will also need to be repeated in order to help strategic thinking become a habit.

  1. Think about the unique value proposition your team, department, or company has to offer; capitalize on your strengths and values as you create strategic plans of any kind.
  2. Brainstorm a list of challenges facing your team, department, or company overall. Draft proactive, long-term plans for how those challenges could be overcome, as well as contingency plans for any problems that may arise. Make sure to include action items and consider the process you will undertake.
  3. Set yourself up for success by making sure your strategic plans consist of SMART goals.
  4. Investigate other companies in your industry and learn about their strategic plans. What are their long-term goals? How do they position themselves against their competitors? What do executives speak about in annual reports, interviews, or other publicly available statements?
  5. Allocate five minutes each day and an hour each week to review your personal strategic plans and ensure you are staying on track.
  6. Accountability is important for achieving strategic plans; pick one of your strategic plans or long-term goals and share it with a colleague or supervisor.
  7. Think of ways you can monitor progress on your strategic plans. Select a plan and list 5-10 objective metrics you could use to measure success.
  8. Reflect on a few strategic plans you have made in the past. List the ones that were successfully implemented and the ones that were not. What was done differently for the ones that were implemented?

Download the Strategic Planning Competency Development Guide

These tips are a part of SIGMA’s Strategic Planning Competency Development Guide. Download the free PDF below for a complete list of tips and tricks for developing this critical leadership skill.

SIGMA Can Help

Since 1967, SIGMA consultants have helped thousands of organizations across North America develop their people potential and increase organizational effectiveness. Explore our assessments, coaching, and consulting services below, and contact us if you would like to speak about creating a custom plan for your organization. Develop your strategic planning skills with SIGMA today.

Leadership Skills Profile –
Revised™ (LSP-R)

Take our flagship leadership assessment and see how you score on communication skills.

Talent Development

Use SIGMA’s scientifically validated, industry-tested tools to give your talent development a strong start.

Coaching with a
SIGMA Consultant

Participate in one-on-one coaching with SIGMA’s expert consultants.

Looking for More?

If you would like to speak with a consultant about what strategic planning looks like at your organization, contact us today. We are happy to share what we’ve learned from client experience and talk about the specific needs of your organization and your team.

Glen Harrison is an organizational transformation consultant and succession planning expert. Over the course of his career, Glen has worked with one-third of the Fortune 500 list and with every level of government in Canada and the United States. Having worked with numerous clients to build robust succession plans from the ground up, Glen has extensive experience in the application of SIGMA’s products and services to help organizations realize their people potential.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.