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Welcome to the first in a series of weekly articles that will work through the Intrafocus 7-Step Strategic Planning Process. Our team has decades of collective experience in business and organisational strategy success. Our Strategic Planning Process has benefited hundreds of clients across private, public and third-sector spaces.

What is the secret to strategic success?

Many businesses write great strategies, but only some successfully implement them. This is where the true path to success lies, regardless of your business type, size and industry.

Why a structured process matters

Similarly, most business leaders are great at initiating action and getting tactical results. Still, it can be challenging to get energetic ‘do-ers’ together to work through a robust, cohesive business strategy.

We find that the best results come from a structured approach. After all, business strategy can seem quite daunting, especially when you start throwing around terms such as ‘KPIs’, ‘metrics’ and ‘dashboards! But the Intrafocus team is here to make it easy and realistic to get your business strategy right by guiding your organisational decision-makers through a robust, planned and supported process that examines each requirement of business strategy in a considered, sequential way.

The Intrafocus 7-Step process

Our proven process takes our clients through seven sequential stages – foundation, assessment, objectives, measures and projects. The process provides a vital checklist, ensuring that your resulting strategy will be embedded into every process and managed effectively by the right people. Crucially, this process doesn’t result in a large, unwieldy document that no one will read! Instead, it results in a dynamic, brief and focused strategy document with a single-page summary that captures your organisation’s:

  • Vision and purpose
  • Strategic priorities and objectives
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Targets
  • Projects.

You can find examples in our Strategic Plan Template

Step 1: Setting the Foundations

Today, we’ll look at the first step of the Intrafocus 7-Step Strategic Planning Process; the foundations.

Defining your Strategy Success Foundation: Core Values, Vision and Purpose

Before launching into the creation of a strategy, your organisation needs to have its fundamental elements in place. This means knowing who you are as a business or entity and clarifying your goals. To pin down these fundamentals, it’s essential to define the following:

1. Your core values define what you stand for, how you operate, and what you think is important to the way you run your business. These are the core foundation of any strategy and need to be clarified before moving towards the definition of purpose and vision. For success, state what you believe to be true! The best and truest values will already be embodied within your organisation. And if they aren’t? Then a desirable culture change may need to be part of your strategy. For most organisations, 5-6 values will be ideal.

2. Your vision, or the way that your organisation sees things. This vision will be a few sentences describing your unique and identifying factors and your target audience. Remember that people will also read it without knowledge of your organisation and what it stands for, so make it clear, specific and tightly defined.

3. Your purpose or what your business exists to achieve. This is the aspirational, cultural part of what you’re working towards – with the strategy being strategic and inspirational. It captures how the business will work within its operating environment to achieve its goals – and it can be much harder to write!

These three crucial pieces of information act as guiding principles and define everything that you go on to do.

Who should develop these foundations?

The development of these three key foundations is usually taken forwards by an organisation’s executive leader or a dedicated strategic director if one is in place. It tends not to require a workshop in its own right, although some organisations may prefer to work in this way.

This step requires a lot of deep thought, reflection and a proper understanding of the organisation, what it stands for and what it is working towards. Critically, it requires a more holistic view of an organisation within its broader operating environment than businesses typically took in previous years. This more comprehensive view -recognising what today’s companies can give back to the communities that serve them, as well as seeking to derive profits (or income) from customers – is what gives the all-important purpose (the successor to the more old-fashioned ideas of ‘mission’.)

To get to grips with this foundational stage, we recommend that the charged business leader takes a week or so to write the necessary statements or sentences and then circulate a draft to the leadership team for review and feedback.

Find extra resources

Intrafocus has put together a series of free resources to demystify the business strategy and planning process. Start with our Strategic Planning Workbook

We also recommend downloading a 30-day trial of the KPI management software Spider Impact. This is the only software recommended by the Balanced Scorecard Institute, and we have seen our clients experience positive results through its implementation.

For extra help in guiding your organisation through the business strategy development, planning and implementation process, we can also provide hands-on support that best suits your needs. For most of our clients, this usually starts with a strategy workshop. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more and discuss your requirements.