6 strategic planning activities for your organization

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
December 21, 2023
An image of a group of people meeting around a table in an office
6 strategic planning activities for your organization
Written by 
Bryan Kitch
December 21, 2023

Thomas Edison once said, “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” In the business world, where chaos and opportunity often go together, Edison's words echo the importance of aligning foresight with action. 

That's where strategic planning comes into play.

Strategic planning operates as a guiding compass that steers organizations through the ever-changing landscape of the business world. It involves the meticulous process of goal setting, making informed decisions, and plotting a course of action to achieve those goals. By combining careful analysis, thoughtful foresight, and decisive action, strategic planning empowers organizations to navigate uncertainty and seize opportunities.

In this blog post, we'll delve into six key strategic planning activities. These activities serve as bridges that connect opportunities with planning, enabling your organization to thrive in a rapidly evolving business environment. When you embrace these strategic planning activities, you can unlock the full potential of your organization and position it for long-term growth and prosperity.

1. Set yourself up for success with a strategic analysis

Strategic analysis is a vital component of the strategic planning process. It involves a comprehensive evaluation of both internal and external factors that can impact your company's success. 

One notable type of strategic analysis is the PESTLE analysis, which assesses Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors.

During the strategic analysis phase, organizations typically perform a SWOT analysis, which involves identifying and analyzing internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. 

For example, a company may discover that its internal strengths lie in its strong brand reputation and skilled workforce, while its weaknesses may include outdated technology infrastructure. External opportunities could include emerging markets or new customer segments, while threats may come from increased competition or changing regulatory environments.

The insights gained from your SWOT analysis lay the groundwork for strategic decision-making. It's about understanding where the organization stands and how it can navigate its unique landscape effectively.

Once armed with a clearer understanding, you can formulate strategies that harness strengths, address weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate threats. This process isn't about predicting the future, but instead adapting to it by making informed choices based on the current business environment.

2. Assess your rivals with a competitive analysis

A thorough competitive analysis is essential for identifying your organization's position in the market and anticipating challenges and opportunities.

  • Start by identifying the key players in your industry, dissecting their market share, and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. By knowing who your competitors are, you can better position your organization to stand out in the market.
  • Next, delve into your competitors' strategies to identify what works and what doesn't. Look at their marketing tactics, product offerings, pricing strategies, and customer engagement methods. This insight can help you refine your organization's approach and uncover new opportunities. 

Consider organizing a planning meeting with your team to dissect your competitors' strategies and brainstorm actionable insights. By understanding their successes and failures, you can learn from their experiences and make informed decisions that'll give your organization a competitive edge.

3. Get the lay of the business landscape with a market analysis

To thrive in a competitive landscape, you need to understand the market inside-out. Here’s how to do it:

Conduct market research

Dive into your customer needs, preferences, and behaviors using surveys, focus groups, customer journey maps, and data analysis. These insights will guide you in crafting products and services that resonate with their hearts and minds.

Analyze market size and growth

Assess the size of your target market and its growth potential. This information helps you set realistic goals and allows for strategic initiatives that align with the market's trajectory. For example, you can analyze market trends, competitor analysis, and customer demographics to gain a comprehensive understanding of the market landscape. This analysis will help you identify opportunities for growth and potential challenges that may arise.  

Evaluate market growth saturation

Understanding the dynamics of market growth and saturation is critical. It helps you identify when and where to enter new markets or when adjustments are needed in existing ones. You can use various tools and metrics to evaluate market growth and saturation. This includes analyzing the size of the target market, customer buying patterns, market share, and market segmentation. Additionally, you should consider industry trends, such as new product offerings and disruptive technologies. With this information, you can determine the potential for market saturation, levels of competition, and the overall market landscape.

4. Chart a course to success by setting a strategic direction

With a deep understanding of both internal dynamics and external market factors, the next step is defining the organization's path forward.

Define mission, vision, and values

Crafting a clear mission statement, vision, and values provides a foundation for decision-making. These elements serve as guiding principles, aligning the team's efforts with the organization's core beliefs.

Related: Check out Mural’s Vision Mission Strategy Values Pyramid template to help define your path forward with your team

Imagine a healthcare company whose mission is to improve the well-being of communities by providing accessible and affordable healthcare services. Its vision could be a world where everyone has equal access to good healthcare, and its core values might include compassion, integrity, and innovation. These powerful statements not only inspire the team but also resonate with customers and stakeholders, creating a strong sense of identity and purpose.

Establish strategic goals and objectives

To turn your organization’s vision into reality, it's crucial to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). These goals should be aligned with your organization's mission and provide a clear direction for everyone involved.

Let's say you're leading a technology startup aiming to disrupt the e-commerce industry. A SMART goal could be to achieve a 20% increase in monthly active users within the next six months by implementing targeted marketing campaigns, enhancing the user experience, and expanding product offerings. This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to the organization's mission, and has a defined timeframe, providing a clear target for the team to work toward to align with core competencies and market opportunities.

5. Optimize for efficiency with resource allocation

Effective resource allocation makes sure that resources are used efficiently and that your organization's efforts are focused on the most impactful projects. The following steps outline a process for effective resource allocation:

Assess available resources

Begin with a comprehensive assessment of the resources at your disposal — financial, human, and technological. Just as a traveler checks their supplies before setting out, assessing available resources allows for realistic planning. For instance, a startup entering a competitive market would carefully evaluate its financial capacity, available talent, and technological infrastructure to navigate challenges effectively.

Prioritize strategic initiatives

Not all initiatives are created equal. Prioritize strategic initiatives based on their alignment with organizational goals and resource availability. This step provides that efforts are concentrated where they matter most. For example, a marketing team might prioritize campaigns that align with the company's core objectives and have the potential for high returns.

Allocate resources effectively

Once priorities are established, allocate resources efficiently. This includes: 

  • Financial resource allocation: Develop a comprehensive financial budget that aligns with the strategic priorities of the organization. Allocate funds to different projects and initiatives based on their importance and potential return on investment. 
  • Human capital allocation: Assess the skills, expertise, and capacity of your workforce to allocate human capital effectively. Identify key talent and assign them to projects that align with their strengths and expertise. This ensures that the right people are working on the right initiatives, maximizing productivity and output. 
  • Infrastructure optimization: Evaluate your technology infrastructure and allocate resources to optimize its efficiency and effectiveness. This may involve investing in new technologies, upgrading existing systems, or streamlining processes to enhance productivity.  

Effectively allocating financial resources enables your organization to achieve its strategic goals while maximizing the return on investment. 

6. Develop action plans to achieve organizational goals

Each strategic goal needs a detailed action plan. Define specific steps, assign responsibilities to team members, and establish timelines. The following steps will help you create a clear action plan that ensures everyone is on the same page regarding what needs to be done.

Create a roadmap with timelines and milestones

Think of your strategic plan as a team-building road trip. Your roadmap becomes the GPS that guides you. You outline timelines, milestones, and key deliverables, just like plotting stops along your journey. This visual representation helps you track progress and make adjustments as needed, making sure you stay on the right path, just like navigating a road trip.

Monitor progress and make adjustments

Strategic planning isn't a set-it-and-forget-it process. Regularly monitor progress against the established roadmap. This allows for timely adjustments, providing that the organization stays on course even in the face of unforeseen challenges. 

Communication and collaboration are essential components of the process. Establish clear channels of communication and decision-making protocols that involve all stakeholders. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and can provide input on the direction the organization should take. By implementing regular reviews, progress can be tracked and adjustments can be made as needed.

Elevate your strategic planning with Mural's collaborative platform

To safeguard the success of your strategic plans, it's important to foster a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration.

Integrating Mural into your strategic planning process transforms it into a dynamic and engaging experience. Teams can collaborate seamlessly, share ideas visually, and make real-time adjustments to the plan. Leverage the power of Mural for effective team-building, planning sessions, and problem-solving. It's the tool that turns your strategic objectives into actionable plans, guiding your leadership team toward long-term goals and increased profitability.

Ready to dive in? Bring Mural into your next strategic planning meeting and experience the impact of collaborative and visual planning. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.