The Five Levels of Strategic Planning

A Business Leader, An Executive Director, A Mayor, A CEO, A Ministry Leader

Your team needs to know where you are going.

Where is your organization now, and where are you going? As we have worked with organizations, that question exists in all members of an organization. Everyone wants to know where their organization stands and how to get to the next level.

That is why we developed the 5 Levels of Strategic Planning model. We wanted to help leaders and organizations to understand and increase their value. We want to offer a general overview of the 5 Levels as a reminder that you are still on your way as an organization to making a difference!


The 5 Levels of Strategic Planning

Level 1 – Implied Plan

The first level of planning – is not really a plan at all; it is an implied plan. It is the only level that does not have a written plan for the members of the organization to see. This usually happens when a new business owner has an idea or a business in mind and begins to serve. He or She naturally skilled at their service starts to meet needs in the community, and things begin to go well. However, the rest of the organization is operating based on unwritten assumptions not written a written plan. Goals, values, strategic action plans are not explicitly described, but people act on what is assumed. It is not that this level creates failure. There have been many organizations that have operated under assumptions alone and have been successful. However, when you start to work with people, they need guidance and that guidance needs to be explicit.

Level 2 – Written Plan

The second level of planning – is a written plan. This is where the Board, Owner, or leadership team writes down things like a mission, vision, values. They may put a business plan together or develops some goals and objectives to achieve. If they are detailed, they may provide a plan of action with due dates, milestones, and ownership to the action steps.

Level 3 – Strategic Plan

A Strategic plan differs from a written plan because of its strategic aim. A strategic aim is one that considers the needs of the customers, the unique environment, a competitor analysis, and a SWOT analysis. A plan that has a strategic aim is unique to all other plans, overcomes the barriers, and gives the organization a unique identity. To go from a written plan to a strategic plan an organization uses a present realities instrument and establishes a unique position in the mind of the market and society.

Level 4 – Real-Time Strategic Performance Management

Level four takes a strategic plan from paper to real-time data. Just like the Newspaper, and paper-based maps have been replaced with new apps bringing real time news updates and a GPS that brings turn by turn directions. Paper based strategic plans have become outdated and irrelevant in many situations. The paper-based strategic plan is often outdated and irrelevant in situations that demand real-time tracking and intelligence. In a world that is constantly changing, a plan needs to be able to put real time data into it and provide direction to overcome the next challenge. The paper-based plan becomes a strategic management process when a team commits to strategic reviews, annual updates, metric tracking, and reporting through an updated platform.

Level 5 – Dynamic Strategic Transformation

For an organization to transform dynamically, the strategy is impacting all members of the organization and the organization can handle a constantly changing environment. The Strategic elements become embedded into the fabric of the organization. Processes in the following areas tie to the plan: Recruiting and hiring, training, mediation, managing performance, compensation and rewards, and recognition. The result is a culture that is constantly transforming to sustain high performance and meet the changing demands of reality.

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