The Art of Strategic Planning

Every successful leader I’ve ever known has possessed passion and vision. But not every person with passion and vision becomes a successful leader. What makes the difference? Leadership! That’s why I say that everything rises and falls on leadership.
–Dr. John Maxwell

Leaders of destiny understand the importance of turning their vision into a strategic plan. Many people have great dreams, goals, and desires for a better tomorrow. However, many of these dreams, goals, and desires will never come to pass unless you develop a strategic plan and then work the plan.

Your destiny tells you where you want to go, your dreams and goals tell you when you want to get there, and a strategic plan tells you how you are going to do it. As a leader, you must turn your destiny, dreams, and goals into a written strategic plan.

Leaders of destiny know that hoping and wishing is not a strategy. They know that a vision without a strategic plan is only a fantasy, and that they cannot be strategic if their efforts lack context.

A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.
–T. Boone Pickens, Texas billionaire and successful businessman

Surprisingly, I have found that very few businesses, colleges, non-profit organizations, television stations, and churches have detailed written plans for their future.

Many organizations have a one year plan or a one year budget, but few have a detailed 10-20 year plan. In my own personal observations, only about 5 percent of companies and organizations have such a plan. Of the 5 percent that do have a strategic plan, they are also listed as the top 5 percent in their field. Interestingly, I have found that 95 percent of all project failures are the result of improper planning.

Why don’t more people and organizations plan for the future? Because planning is not easy. If planning was easy, everybody would be doing it based on the results it produces. I don’t like planning myself. However, I discovered that planning can be easy if I had the right tools to help me in the process. The Destiny Arrow is a tool designed to help you make the planning process easy, quick, and fun.

Live Your Life by Design Not by Default—Have a Strategic Plan

Make no little plans. There is nothing in little plans to stir men’s blood. Make big plans. Once a big idea is recorded, it can never die.
–Daniel Burnham, Chicago Planning Commission

What is a plan? The definition of planning is:

· To think out a way of how to do something.
· To come up with a creative way of causing something to come to pass.
· A detailed method, thought out beforehand.
· To design something that stresses the outcome.

Every champion thinks ahead. To create a plan you have to think ahead. Those who think ahead—get ahead! You would not consider building a house without a blueprint. Why would you start your life or business without a plan? Sadly, most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their lives.

Studies show that ten minutes of planning creates an additional four hours of productivity in your day. Organize your life. Plan your daily activities. What are you going to do every day to achieve your dreams and goals? Plan the use of your time; don’t just react to circumstances. Use a calendar and make a daily list of things you need to accomplish. If you don’t control your time, everything or everybody else will control you.

When you do not have a clear picture of where you are going, a certain level of uncertainty arises. Writing down your personal dreams, goals, and plans for the future will give you a clear picture of where you want to go. When you have a clear picture of where you want to go, you step into your future with confidence.

Don’t Just Think it, Ink It!

Committing your goals to paper increases the likelihood of you achieving them 1,000 percent!
–Brian Tracy

John Maxwell said, “A masterfully written plan is confidence on paper. If your plan is as strong as it should be, your charming personality will be the icing on the cake. Without a written plan, you may be wearing the cake!” Don’t just think it, ink it! Put your confidence on paper. It is not enough for you to have a forceful and charismatic personality. Your ability to sway the masses will only work in the short term and will not accomplish massive undertakings.

Effective leadership begins with a crystal clear and compelling vision. Your first responsibility as a leader is to see—if you can’t see the future, you can’t lead others into it. If you do not have a vision for the future, you do not have a future. You can have a life without a vision, but you do not have a future without a vision.

Mature leaders put process between a decision that needs to be made and the time frame in which the decision is actually made. Immature leaders make decisions instantly without the process of thinking through the different options, looking over objectives and priorities for the year, or obtaining feedback from wise council.

The foundational building block for making wise decisions is a strategic plan. It takes time to go trough the planning process and most immature leaders do not want to take the time to go through the process. Over the years, I have seen leaders make some very unwise short-term decisions that literally caused the downfall of entire organizations because they did not have any long-term plans. When you have clear long-term plans, immediate decision making is easier. Wise decisions are rarely made when you do not have a road map to where you are going.

The best time to start developing a strategic plan is when you are embarking on a new business or project, when you are preparing for future changes, or when you just need to clarify your plans for the future.

Defining Strategic Planning

What is strategic planning? It is simply a written statement that communicates to yourself and a group of people the direction, organizational structure, and the resources available to accomplish a dream.

Strategic planning:

· Provides a unified set of plans for all levels of leadership.
· Is the foundation for creating a healthy team environment.
· Provides a shared basis for clear decision making.
· Is a platform for problem solving.
· Provides a clear way to tell others “who we are.”
· Is a system to allow fast growth.
· Increases your leadership confidence.

A person or a company that does not have a strategic plan is likely to suffer these painful results:

· Unclear direction
· Foggy communication
· Personal hidden agendas
· Political games
· Interdepartmental rivalry
· Frustration from staff who wonder who is responsible for what, who’s responsible for whom, how much is available for what, etc.
· Procrastination in decision making
· Wasted energy and resources
· Wasted time
· Slow productivity
· Poor quality of service
· Foggy about the future
· No preparation for growth
· Chaos

Strategic planning is like harnessing 12 wild and powerful horses to a single plow, it coordinates all the energy, power, and potential to a single task, moving in a single direction.

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