Strategic planning is one of the hardest and most crucial aspects of an up and coming business. The process for deciding a company’s future will remain with that organization for many years, whether it’s new products or services, or corporate direction. Most strategic plans break down to three core questions that define your plan:
- Where are you now?
- Where are you going?
- How do you get there?
Creating a new map is a great way to plot ideas. From these ideas you can then chose the best options. MindManager is great for determining your strengths and weaknesses, understanding the market, recognizing your competition and formulating your action plan. These simple steps will show how MindManager can guide you through a strategic plan that is simple and easy to understand.
Let’s get started!
Creating a SWOT analysis is the first step in understanding where you are. You can find a SWOT analysis template on www.mapsforthat.com. Once you have chosen your map, start with strengths and hash out all the concepts you can think of that will benefit the particular product, service, or company structure. The point of this exercise is to brainstorm on as many key factors as you can; don bother trying to organize the content- that will come later. Free brainstorm thinking is the best way to get all the necessary ideas out on the table.
Once you have outlined all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can begin to organize the content. Drag and drop each concept into the sections of the SWOT template. Next, using the priority markers, outline the most important ideas that the team agrees should be implemented at one time or another. You can re-define markers by simply right-clicking on the marker and selecting “Rename”. This prioritization is crucial to the next phase because it helps you target what your competitors are doing and/or not doing.
Next, you can determine where the company is going by a competitive analysis. A competitive analysis outlines the market’s need for a particular product or service. This can be done on the same map, but in a different topic. To make it easier to view, it is recommended that you collapse the rest of the map (Ctrl + F3). Brainstorm all the keywords that describe your company, product, or service. In the “Map Parts” tab on the right side, under “Web Services”, click “Search” and it will provide you the choice of searching in the Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines. Now, click on the first topic and select your preferred search engine. Add any other specific search criteria, as well as how many results you would like to see. The search engine will search on that term and report back the top results. The results include a hyperlink that will take you directly to the website through our embedded web browser. Now you’re able to research these sites for relevant competitive information. If there is any information you would like to add to your map, simply highlight the area, and drag it to the appropriate map topic. Excessive text can clutter a map, so using topic notes is helpful in keeping things organized. Simply, copy the information and paste it in a topic note (Ctrl + T). From there, you can hover over the note icon and get a preview of its contents. You can also paste images and other hyperlinks in the notes field. Repeat this step for all of your competitors until you have a firm grasp of the market. It is vital to understand your market’s need for a solution before you build a solution.
You can now cultivate a vision statement based on the information you uncovered in your SWOT and competitive analyses. Your vision formulates your organization’s future; it’s how you define what the organization will look in 5 to 10 years from now. Combine your strengths and opportunities to drive innovation in ways your competitors have not yet discovered. Embrace your weaknesses and threats to establish proper rebuttals and counter strategies. This is the time where you can outline your company’s greatest possibilities with all the best ideas from your map at your fingertips. You vision should have S.M.A.R.T. objectives and initiatives that are fully defined and measurable.
Now, you can clarify the final question, “how do we get there,” by using your vision statement to determine what the short-term and long-term goals are. Start by defining timeframes for both “short term” and “long term” – is it days, or months, or maybe even years? Use Tag Markers to tag these ideas. Click on the “Markers” tab, select “Add New Tag Group” and name it something intuitive, like “Goal Type”. Add your short term and long term tags then go through each idea and determine the timeframe. Your strategic plan is almost complete!
The final item to create is an action plan, or the schedule of tasks necessary to achieve the company objectives. First, take each objective and identify all of the tasks necessary to make that objective a success. These tasks should also be S.M.A.R.T. in order to be able to define success. Using the “Task Info” tab on the right side, you can generate start- and end dates for these tasks, as well as assign people to be responsible for each task. This task schedule should be understood by the entire team, and mutually agreed upon by each team member to ensure the plan is properly communicated.
A strategic plan is something that every company does and MindManager is the perfect tool to create a successful one. Brainstorming, organizing, and prioritizing objectives is the key foundation to these types of plans, something that MindManager does all too well. Additionally, taking those objectives and creating an executable plan is where the real magic lies.
Brainstorming, organizing, and prioritizing objectives are the key foundations of strategic plans, and MindManager helps you gain the insight needed to reach business decisions and create plans that are actionable. To learn how companies like Allied Telesis and Trotter & Maxfield have used MindManager for strategy, download their case studies.