Strategic planning is a critical activity for leaders of corporate, government and non-profit organizations alike. Through the strategic plan, leaders set the future direction and define the specific outcomes and strategies that will lead to achieving that direction. But, how do you know if you’ve created a successful strategic planning process?

In our work at Leadership Strategies, we developed “The Essentials of Successful Strategic Planning and Execution,” a 20-point assessment of an organization’s strategic process. The goal of the assessment is to provide an indication of areas that might warrant additional attention. Thus, the investment in planning is fully realized and a successful strategic planning process is ensured.

Consider using the following checklist to assess your planning activities.


Pre-Planning Situation Analysis

1.     Prior to the planning workshop, was an analysis prepared of industry trends and competitive factors?
2.     Prior to the planning workshop, was input gathered from internal and external stakeholders on the current performance of the organization and future possibilities?
3.     Prior to the planning workshop, was a documented analysis completed of the existing plan, recent initiatives and the current situation?

Plan Development

4.     Was a clear Mission Statement created?  Does the Mission describe what the organization does, for whom it does it and the benefit?
5.     Does the plan include a compelling Vision Statement that describes what the future will be if the organization achieves it Mission?
6.     Have Positioning Statements been created based on the key factors and trends identified through the situation analysis?  Do the Positioning Statements outline the broad direction and focus for the planning horizon?
7.     Does the plan include Guiding Principles that go beyond identifying values by identifying how the values will be operationalized in the day-to-day activities of the organization?
8.     Have broad Goals been established that identify the key areas that define accomplishment of the Mission?
9.     Have Objectives been identified for each Goal?  Do the Objectives represent specific, achievable and time-bound targets that define relevant outcomes that directly measure success in each Goal area?
10.  Have the Critical Success Factors been identified for the Objectives?  Do the Critical Success Factors describe the most important conditions that must be met to achieve the Objectives?
11.  Have the key Barriers to success been identified for the Objectives?
12.  Have specific Strategies been defined that will lead to accomplishment of the set of Objectives for each Goal area?  As a group, do the Strategies fully address the Critical Success Factors and Barriers identified for that Goal area?
13.  Have six-to-twelve specific Priorities been identified for immediate focus?
14.  Have Action Plans been defined for each priority?  Do the action plans describe the steps to be taken, by whom and by when, for the priorities?  Have the resources required – both financial and human – been identified?


15.  Have steps been taken to ensure the buy-in and commitment by the leadership team and all critical internal and external stakeholders?
16.  Have budget approval been given for the priority strategies?
17.  Has the team identified the organizational changes, activities to cease, and timetable necessary to ensure full implementation of the plan?


18.  Has the team performed at least quarterly monitoring and reporting on status of objectives and strategies?
19.  Has the team performed at least annual adjustments to the plan based on environment & progress?
20.  Has the team implemented a policy of reviewing all major proposed activities against the strategic direction?