Skills Needed to Develop Strategic Plans

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Developing a solid strategic plan requires teamwork.
Developing a solid strategic plan requires teamwork. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Having an overall vision is critical for talent retention, because employees are most engaged when they have a clear path to follow, according to an article by Holly Green for "Forbes." Overall aims offer a way to direct work efforts, increasing profitability by ensuring the organization does important things well instead of doing everything in a substandard way. Because strategic planning is inherently future-oriented, writing an effective plan requires a visionary personality.

Communication and Teamwork

It almost goes without saying that communication skills are important for developing a strategic plan. After all, without written communication skills, you can't pen a mission statement that makes sense. However, the best strategic planners take their communication a step further. As a resource on the online Free Management Library points out, strategic plan development isn't an individual process. You need to run meetings and integrate the thoughts of people across the organization, which requires problem solving, negotiation and the ability to entertain opinions while still settling on a final idea. Once you have a strategic plan in place, you need to rally your employees to translate words into meaningful action. You have to articulate what a goal would look like in practical terms and explain why it's important.

Future-Focused

A strategic plan looks beyond today and defines where an organization should be tomorrow, which means that the planning process is future-focused. Analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats today is an important part of the planning process, but considering what those same factors might look like in the future is also critical, especially when it comes to opportunities and threats. For example, perhaps you have few competitors today, but statistics show that new businesses are breaking into your industry quickly. Your plan needs to account for this reality, emphasizing the necessity of moving fast to expand your business.

Analytical Skills

Recognizing all of the opportunities for your organization requires analytical abilities, as does choosing the right direction. Once you see the possible pathways for your company, you need to consider the voices of your customers, the opinions of your employees and objective research data to select a strategic direction that makes sense. "Forbes" writer Martin Zwilling says that identifying roadblocks to success and finding solutions are also important for goal achievement. Pinpointing potential obstacles is an exercise that requires an analytical, detail-oriented mindset.

Creativity

Strategic thinking is necessarily creative thinking, because strategic plans outline the company's road map to outsmart the competition and carve out an advantageous position in the marketplace. Getting a leg up over competitors requires seeing possibilities that they don't recognize, which involves creativity and innovation. Effective strategic planners don't just see what is. They brainstorm about what could be, then transform that dream into reality by allocating resources, reconsidering the chain of command and rewarding people who perform well.

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