Effective Leaders utilize strategic plans to accomplish the goals of their organization.  These plans should be long range (3-5 years), should solve a problem of their customers, add value to its audiences, increase value to the organization, take advantage of opportunities, and guide positive action.  If you don’t have a plan, then any path will get you there, and your final destination may not be what you thought.  A strategic plan is a roadmap for your organization, and if proper thought and planning are put into it, then the roadmap will lead to the most beneficial and successful destination.

  Here are some guiding principles when developing a strategic multi-year plan, I have also included a template which you may find useful.  A good strategic plan follows one of the first pattern of Leadership which is:


Begin developing your plan by first and foremost understanding your mission.  What are you in the business for?  Why does your organization exist?   What is the core mission of your organization and how does it fulfil the needs of your customers?  Begin developing a document that will be your strategic plan or create a template to use to capture the following.  Document or copy over to your strategic plan document the mission of your organization and put it on the top of your strategic plan to-be. 

Define the Direction

Executive Summary

A strategic plan is key to the Define Direction phase of the leadership pattern.  It is the road map to reaching the destination we want for our organization.  Most strategic plans start with an executive summary of what is going to happen.  An “elevator pitch.”  This section of your strategic 5-year plan will be completed after you have flushed out the rest of the document, but it will summarize your strategic approach.

Core Organizational Objectives

Your organization has core objectives that it wants to accomplish.  Objectives are, at a high level, centered around bringing some value to your customers or audiences.  Objectives define the focus of an organization. If they are inward facing objectives, then they focus internally on improving and building the organization.  In the marketplace an outward facing objective would be to deliver the best value, service, or product to your customers to generate revenue.  This value must exceed that of what any other organization can offer to create or maintain market shares.  In the non-profit environment, its purpose is to add value to those audiences in the best manner possible. These objectives may be assigned from the top of your organization by upper management or may be objectives identified after customer needs, problems, or opportunities are discovered.  Counsel together and document in your multi-year plan your organization’s core objectives.

                Counseling together will help a group focus on similar issues, but from different vantage points of experience. 

Identify who the “customers” are for your organization.  Who do you serve?  Who do you want to serve?  Who are you best suited to serve? Who do you want to bring value to?   Identify and classify them.  Are they direct customers or indirect?  Are they external to your organization or internal?  Research what the needs are of the Customers.  How can you help them and bring value into their lives?  Identify and document audience / customer needs, problems, or opportunities.  These will be key to defining your direction as an organization.  These objectives define the sole reason your organization exists, to bring value to these customers.  The more research you do on your audience, the better you can steer your organization to adding true value.  As needs change, so should your objectives.  Constant evaluation of the value and services being provided to your customers / audience is needed for success.  Document these needs, problems and opportunities.


Next document the following items:

  • Strengths – what are your organization’s strengths. What is it you do well and how have you been able to leverage those strengths?
  • Weaknesses- identify what area of weakness or failing you have in your organization.
  • Opportunities – what opportunities for growth, strength, and customer reach do you have?
  • Threat or Risk- analyze the risks you see in trying to bring value to your customers/ audience.

The reason to include a SWOT analysis (analysis of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) in your Strategic Plan is to help you determine the best opportunities to pursue to achieve your growth goals, what strengths to bring to bear when servicing your customers, and what areas you should expand or improve to better service those customers or reach out to new customers.  It also helps you identify which weaknesses you must develop in the near future to build the capability to satisfy your customers and improve your organization.

Organize the Work

Now begin putting your plan together.  You have several objectives for your organization.  Now break those objectives down into what services you provide to accomplish those objectives, the high-level processes that will be used to bring that value to the customers / audience, what products you need to support those services / processes, and what projects will be needed to either develop those products or create those services.

In a spreadsheet or a work hierarchy template, start with listing your Objectives.  If needed break each objective into more refined or detailed initiatives, programs, or product groups.   My example I use is for a Non-Profit organization whose objective is to help disadvantaged youth get education.  This objective may have several initiatives or programs.  Capture them in the chart to add to your 5-Year Strategic Plan document.  Here is an example:


After breaking down the objectives into Initiative or programs, counsel together, research and capture the goals you have at that high level.


Next align the processes or services that will be needed to accomplish these Initiatives.  Capture them in the spreadsheet / template.  As a side note, as you execute this plan, make sure you define and capture or map out the processes that support the Initiatives. 

Now capture what products will be needed to fulfil and support the initiatives and its processes.  Capture the deliverables of those products and identify the beneficiary of those products, the customers or audience.  In this example we identified them by type of customer direct or indirect.  What are the goals of the products and how will the product bring about value.

Product plans and project plans will be the offspring of such a strategic plan and they will go into greater detail.

Continue developing this Chart with a column for a value statement after each deliverable, describing the intended value to your customers.  Identify how you will measure that value and the effectiveness of the product.  Remember it is key to measure success so that you can alter the plan to increase effectiveness or adjust to customer needs.   Now counsel together with your team to decide the priority in which these initiative and products need to be accomplished.  Always start with the products that bring the most value and affect the most customers. Keep it all high level right now, this is a strategic plan, the product plans will begin to flush out the detail and the project plans will even further capture detail, the key here is to keep simple and high level.

 Again, analyze your SWOT with each of these initiatives to address how best you can approach these initiatives.  What are your strengths, what do you need to improve or what capacity or capability do you need to develop to address these initiative and successfully deploy your products.

Implementation Plan

   Document your strategy for implementing these initiatives and products.  Look at the resources you have available to implement.  It is now time to put some rough estimates together to understand the demand these efforts will place on your organization and how much work your resources can accomplish over a period of time.  This is where the schedule begins to take shape.  Starting off with the highest priorities, you plan out the effort.  Keep it at a high level for the strategic plan showing how long it will take to execute each initiative or program and its corresponding products, processes, and projects.   

You chart should now start looking like this:

This spreadsheet or work hierarchy will be a key attachment to your plan.

Resource Allocation

In your strategic plan list the resource needs and / or make resource assignments to each initiative.  If you are resource constrained, push lower priority work out into the future and focus on what needs to be done soonest.  This is the start to your multi-year plan.  Remember to review your plan with your team often to ensure the priorities are in the right order, but it is better to put a plan in place and work that plan than to constantly make changes and have to reshuffle the plan over and over again.  Each time you shift resources from one task to another task, it will cost the organization in down-time, shift time, new process implementation, tool up, tool down, learning curve, and process adaptation.  Counsel with your team to ensure you are developing viable strategies to get the work done.

Measurement Plan 

Define what the key measurements are that you will need to track to assess value to the customers, and efficiency to the way you are executing the processes and developing the products.  Measures and milestones will be captured in your product plan, but at this level it is good to begin to think about how you are going to measure success.  How will you measure effectiveness of your product, not just reach and market share, but value adding effect to your customers?

Now return to your executive Summary and describe your strategy to deliver value to your customers and strengthen your organization.

Build Capability

 Now that you have created a rough multi-year plan, analyze what gaps you may have or the weaknesses you have identified in your planning that may keep you from achieving your goals.  Where do your processes fail?  What human resources (skills, talents, and abilities) do you require? What facility constraints do you have?  What tools do you need?  After you identify all your gaps, add to your plan how you will build those capabilities. 

Accomplish the Work

Now you are ready to accomplish the work.  Constantly measure performance, counsel together as a team to celebrate successes, remove barriers, and address issues.  This plan does not need to be created all at one time, but can develop, be revised, or amended over time.  Get going!

Return and Report

This is an important element in any successful organization.  Each team member should render an account for their performance.  Each process should have a process owner who is accountable for its performance and should report on its success.  Each element in the strategy plan should be reported on to ensure that measures and accomplishments are being made.  Returning and Reporting is not about using a “stick” to club people into action or force things to get done, but rather as a meter to see if the needle is moving in the right direction.




Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Stan D. Prueitt

Stan D. Prueitt

Contributing Author

Stan D. Prueitt, a performance consultant in Process Improvement, Organizational Design, Human Design, and Project Management; holds motivational seminars, life coach workshops, Lean Six Sigma certifications, and performance seminars across the country.  Stan draws upon his colorful past experiences and associations to blend simplicity, common sense, eternal principles, humor, energy, and wisdom into a strait forward approach to self and team improvement.  His mentors and Martial Arts Masters have forged Stan into a wealth of experience and knowledge of which he freely shares.  Students of his seminars leave with recharged spiritual batteries, focused purpose, energy for new opportunity, new understanding, and a tool set to become an effective change-agent in their own lives or organizations.    

 While currently leading enterprise integration and organization and process performance initiatives for the LDS Church Educational Department, Stan still finds time to consult to private and municipal organizations on the side.   Previously he was not only a Director of Project Management at the Los Alamos National Laboratory but also one of the leaders in the Lean Six Sigma program.  Stan led a team to restructure the organization to focus on process centricity, performance, enterprise project management, and to move the overall maturity of the organization from level 1 to level 5 of the enterprise maturity model. 

As a true efficiency expert Stan wears many hats, he is a published author of 4 books, co-founder of two publicly traded renewable energy research firms, president of Thunder Ridge Wildlife Refuge, holder of one US patent and inventor of two classified weapons program inventions, adventure TV show host, Lean Six Sigma master black belt, Lean Six Sigma and Performance Management instructor, master instructor and holder of six black belts in the Martial Arts, owner of USLLC Tactical Marital Arts training center, professional off-road race driver, entrepreneur of two successful franchise chains, radio show host,  project manager for research projects, motivational speaker, certified law enforcement officer, husband and loving father of five.


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Here are additional links to articles on this topic, both on our site and others.

  • Why Is the Implementation of Projects Important to Strategic Planning and the Project Manager? – CLICK HERE
  • The New Face Of Strategic Planning – CLICK HERE

  • VIDEO – PMP: Projects and Strategic Planning – CLICK HERE

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