Strategic planning is critical to successful organizations, as it provides forward-looking direction, outlines measurable goals, helps guide key decisions, and provides structure for evaluating progress and data for taking corrective action. With these benefits in mind, how can you get started? Here is a six-step framework to get you going. As you work through each step, engage your team and key stakeholders to provide feedback and validation. This feedback is a critical success factor.

1. Target

How do you show what you will be doing and what you are aspiring to be? Craft an L&D mission and vision statement. For example, a mission statement could be, “Provide opportunities to enable employees to better perform in their jobs by offering relevant development opportunities.” A vision statement could be, “Be the go-to source for employee development that enables rapid growth of the company.” Creating a mission and vision puts guide rails in place for your organization and inspires your team.

2. Align

How do you ensure that you are focused on the right priorities? Align L&D priorities to the organization’s strategic priorities. For example, a company’s strategic priority that would impact L&D could be “committed, capable and engaged employees.” An aligned strategic focus area from L&D could be, “Develop job skills,” with supporting initiatives like, “Improve onboarding for sales or revise existing curricula to better show business impact.”

3. Assess

How do you determine your past, current and future states? Use tools like SWOT and gap analyses. They will provide the information you need to refine your priorities and adjust execution. For example, you might find through your SWOT analysis that you may need to rethink your curriculum deployment strategy due to emerging technologies.

4. Map

How can you use this assessment to determine where you want to go? In steps 1 to 3, you qualified what you would be working on. Next, you need to use that analysis to develop a roadmap showing your aligned strategic priorities and supporting initiatives. Behind the roadmap, you can provide either SMART goals or objectives and key results (OKRs). SMART goals and OKRs show your key stakeholders, in quantitative terms, what you will be doing, and by when, and what you will be impacting, and by how much. They also provide the framework for driving accountability.

5. Execute

How do you execute against your goals? This step is where you lay out your action plan, showing each strategic priority, the supporting strategies, the initiatives that enable the supporting strategies and the key measures. Detail the action steps necessary to execute and track progress. This framework enables you to share exactly what you will be doing, and the key steps in getting there, with your team and key stakeholders.

6. Monitor

How do you determine how well you are doing? Your action plans will provide a great way to monitor progress and take corrective action. Using a balanced scorecard approach, you can communicate to the larger organization your key objectives, the associated targets and actual progress against the targets. No more will you hear, “What is the impact of your work?”

Without following a strategic planning process, you risk not doing the right things right to support the priorities of the organization. While it may seem like a lot of work, remember the adage, “If you don’t plan, then you are planning to fail.”

Want to learn more? Sign up for Training Industry’s master class on strategic planning. Learn more here.