Strategic Planning

The Management Systems’ Strategic Planning MethodSM

Management Systems’ strategic planning tool helps you effectively manage what our research has shown to be the key building blocks of long-term organizational success (included in the Pyramid of Organizational Development™).  We do this by working with your team to create a “strategic organizational development plan” that identifies what you want to achieve as a company in the next 3-5 years overall and with respect to each of the critical building blocks of success.  

As shown in the table below, our approach to strategic planning differs from the traditional approach in some very important ways.  In brief, our approach:

  • Results in a better product (a more effective and comprehensive strategic plan that you can use to drive and manage results) that takes less time to develop than many traditional approaches; and 

  • Helps you and your team become effective in developing, implementing, and managing your strategic plan so that it supports your company’s long-term success.  


Traditional Approach to Strategic Planning

Plans focus almost exclusively on "who we are going to target/serve" (customers), "what we are going to give them" (products/services), and "what we are going to receive in return" (financial results - e.g., revenue, profit, etc.)

Plans and the planning process are "Consultant Dependent" (and may even be, in some cases, based on the Consultants' view of your strategy).

The planning process and plan format (document) lack structure.






A "non-systematic" approach is used to collect data about organizational effectiveness - the "SW" in the SWOT Analysis.


It takes "too long" to develop the plan.





The company's "strategy" and short-term Goals are not integrated - what we do on a daily basis frequently does not necessarily support our long-term goals.



There is too much focus on activities; not enough focus on results.



While we may have a plan, it is, at best poorly implemented - "We spent many days in meetings and produced walls full of flip charts, but we still don't know what to do."

Lack of ownership and reinforcement of plans - in brief, no monitoring, an inability to assess performance against the plan, and an inability to hold people accountable for results.


Management Systems' Approach

In developing the strategic plan, the focus is not just on products and markets, but also on organizational resources, systems, and culture - that is, on all factors that Management Systems' research has shown to be important to long-term success.

Our focus is on making your leadership team effective plan developers and implementers so that you can create and effectively manage your plan.

We use a "structured" approach (see Frameworks and Methodologies) that has a proven track record - it works.

We use a specific format - a "template" in producing the Strategic Plan that is built around the building blocks of longterm organizational success (contained in the Pyramid of Organizational DevelopmentTM).

We take the "SWOT analysis to the next level by focusing the analysis on the building blocks of organizational success (contained the in the Pyramid of Organizational DevelopmentTM).


The process of developing the strategic plan is both efficient and effective. With adequate preparation, a planning team can COMPLETE the development of an effective strategic plan in three or fewer days (typically over a period of 4 to 8 weeks).

The output of Management Systems' process - the strategic plan - includes both the "Big Picture" vision (3 to 5 years out) AND measurable, short-term (the "next 12-18 months") results that support the achievement of the vision.

Tactical plans are built around results that need to be achieved (through the development of specific, measurable, time-dated Goals) versus activities to be completed.

Plan implementation is promoted through the use of specific, measurable, time-dated Goals and Action Plans (that detail the steps to be taken to achieve each Goal). Goals help make it clear to everyone what the results are that you need to achieve and who is responsible for working to achieve these results.

The plan template we use and the training that is provided help you and your team create a true "performance management system." The person responsible for each Goal is clearly identified in the plan document and performance is measured and reviewed on a quarterly basis by the planning team.

Key Deliverables of the Strategic Planning Process

 The key deliverables of the Strategic Planning Process include:

  • Identification of your company’s current opportunities, threats, strengths, and weaknesses – based on an assessment of your company’s environment and internal capabilities (using the Pyramid of Organizational Development™). 
  • A written plan that clearly outlines what you and your team want your company to become in the long-term – including specific measurable results to be achieved 3-5 years out (what we call the company’s “Strategic Mission”).
  • Within the plan, the identification of specific strategies (long-term results to be achieved) related to seven Key Result Areas (factors critical to long-term success) and specific, measurable, time-dated Goals that support these strategies.  The Key Result Areas that provide an organizing tool for the plan are the levels in the Pyramid of Organizational Development™, plus Financial Results Management.
  • Development of your team’s strategic planning capabilities so that you and your team can continue to develop, implement and manage your company’s plans over the long-term, with or without consultant involvement.
  • Promotion of a common vision for the company, a commitment to common goals, and a common language for future discussion of strategic issues.  In brief, implementing this process helps ensure that all planning team members (and the company as a whole) are on the same page with respect to the company’s future direction and the steps needed to take the company where it wants to be.

Steps in the Process

While we will customize a planning solution that will best meet your needs, a typical process – which (including preparation) can be completed in two to three months – includes the following steps:

Step 1: Familiarization – We want to spend some time getting to know you, your team, and your company.  This step can include face-to-face interviews, telephone conferences, review of company documents (e.g., marketing materials, organization charts, etc.).  The purpose of this step is to help us better understand your needs, the issues you are facing, and what we need to do to customize our approach to best meet your needs.

Step 2: Plan Development “Data Collection” – Plans should be based on the best available information and our role in this process is to help collect and package this information for use in developing the plan.  We typically administer one or more surveys to planning meeting participants that, when completed, provide information on the company’s current strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats.  These can include Management Systems’ Growing Pains Survey© and Organizational Effectiveness Survey©, which provide numerical scores to help you understand where you are with respect to building a sustainably successful business.  We also typically administer a “qualitative” Planning Survey in which we ask respondents to provide narrative responses to questions that help identify your company’s strengths and opportunities to improve with respect to the building blocks of success contained in our Pyramid of Organizational Development™.   We work with you to identify the information needed and the best ways to collect it.

Step 3: Planning “Retreat” Preparation – We are able to minimize the meeting time needed to develop your plan by spending the “right” amount of time preparing for the meeting.  Meeting preparation needs to be done by both our team and yours.  Our preparation can include analyzing and preparing reports that summarize the data collected in Step 2, working with you on developing the planning “retreat’s” agenda, preparing supporting materials (e.g., PowerPoint presentation) for use in the meeting, and coordinating with you.  Your team’s preparation can include reading/reviewing the reports we have prepared, reviewing the agenda, and spending some time thinking about and preparing their input on specific issues.  

Step 4: Two-Day Strategic Planning “Retreat” – Over the course of two days, we will take your team through all of the steps included in Management Systems’ Strategic Planning Process.  By the end of the second day, you can expect to have:

  • Identified and discussed the most significant strategic issues facing your organization – based on the data collected about your environment and your organization’s capabilities (the output of Step 2).
  • Developed the “foundation” of your company’s strategic plan – your company’s Business Definition/ConceptStrategic Mission, and Core Strategy.
  • Developed Objectives that define what you want to accomplish over the next 3 to 5 years in each of the seven Key Result Areas (the levels in the Pyramid of Organizational Development™, plus Financial Results) included in your plan.
  • Begun the development of SMART Goals that identify what you want to achieve in the short-term (the next 12-18 months) to support the achievement of your company’s Objectives.  Goals can include specific numerical targets for improving performance with respect to Growing Pains and Organizational Effectiveness Survey results. 
  • A formal document (prepared by Management Systems using our template) that includes all of the elements of your company’s strategic plan.
  • Developed the skills needed to finalize and effectively implement your company’s plan.
  • Reached agreement on any additional steps that are needed to “finalize” the plan (see Step 5). 
  • Reached agreement on the process that will be used to implement and monitor performance against the plan.

Step 5: Plan “Finalization” – Our experience suggests that completing the development of most Strategic Plans (using our methodology) requires a minimum of three full days of management/leadership time, but that it is NOT effective to work for three consecutive days on a plan.  Instead, we recommend that teams complete the two-day “Retreat,” give themselves a break (of as little as a couple of days to as much as a few weeks) to think about what has been accomplished, and then go back to “finalize” the plan.  The work needed to finalize a plan is typically focused primarily on development of additional SMART Goals.  The process used to develop these additional Goals can take many forms and we work with you in Step 4 to determine what the best approach will be for you.

Once all Goals have been completed and inserted into the plan document, your planning team needs to review and “finalize” everything included in your plan.

While some companies choose to complete this step on their own, others ask us to assist.  We can help you complete step 5 by working with planning team members to continue developing SMART Goals, reviewing the completed plan document and providing feedback, and facilitating a meeting of your planning team during which the entire plan is reviewed, discussed, and “finalized.” 

Step 6: Plan Implementation, Monitoring, and Review – An important part of making strategic planning “work,” is taking the time at least quarterly to review progress against your plan.  This “Quarterly Review” process includes having each planning team member submit formal updates on the progress being made against the Goals that he or she owns, holding a team meeting to discuss progress and problems in achieving Goals, and formally updating your plan.

While some companies choose to conduct these meetings “on their own,” others ask us to help prepare for and facilitate them. 

Step 7: Annual Planning Meeting – Each year, you and your planning team need to evaluate where your company is with respect to building a sustainably successful organization (current strengths and limitations), evaluate your performance against the previous year’s Goals, and “develop” your strategic plan for the next 3-5 years.  This means that you and your team will be “repeating” some version of Steps 2-4 of the process outlined here – data collection, meeting preparation, and a two-day retreat.  The data you collect will depend on the issues that you are facing.  Some companies re-administer Management Systems’ Growing Pains and Organizational Effectiveness Surveys as a way of tracking their progress.  During the Retreat, you and your team will review and update, as needed, everything in your existing plan – based on where you are and what you have achieved.

While some of our clients conduct these meetings on their own, others have asked us to facilitate them.  Sometimes, this is because they want an independent facilitator.  Many times, it is because they want an “outside perspective” from someone who understands their business and their personnel.