Strategic planning can be a very vital part of your programs success now and into the future. Strategic planning at its most rudimentary means planning for the near future, three to five years into the future to be specific.
You may have only ever heard of strategic planning in business context. This is often a statement we hear at Functional Basketball Coaching and it is one that is stated without fully examining the situation. Have you ever heard teams and programs make statements like they are in a ‘rebuilding phase’ or call themselves a ‘development team’. If so they these programs should be looking more significantly at their strategic planning to minimise the down turn in performance and eliminate blind spots with their overall output. Output can be anything from results driven success (winning and losing in professional sports) to the number of representative players they produce (Division One College entrants).
Strategic planning for a sporting organisation, program or team does not need to be a complicated process. It does require however that when working through the process that the individual needs, wants and differences of the entity are explored fully to help ensure overall success in the immediate environment or community.
Some of initial steps you will need to explore include:
- Explore your Business Environment
- Define Objectives of the entity
- Decide on a form of Measurement to use for analysing the objectives
Sounds pretty straight forward but when you ask many people to describe the environment in which they see their business it often can provide some very startling answers. Some of the things to think about here are what type of product or service are you looking to sell? What are your competitors doing in a similar situation? What are the differences between what you offer and market leader in your field? These questions will hopefully unlock some of the thought processes for you to start on your way in defining the business environment.
The objectives of your business need to be structured in such a way that they are meaningful and able to be easily understood by everyone in the sporting organisation, program or team. A very simple principle which is easily incorporated in to most objective planning sessions is the SMART Principle. This acronym highlights the important essential elements of any good objective. These are:
Specific; your objectives should have a defined target (for example an increase basketball recruits)
Measureable; your objective should have a defined target (for example an increase basketball recruits by 5%)
Attainable; your objective should be able to be achieved by your organisation. There is no use setting an objective which requires ten staff if you only have three (for example an increase basketball recruits by 5% beyond our capacity).
Realistic; your objective needs to able to be achieved (for example an increase basketball recruits by 500%).
Timebound; your objective needs to have a finishing date (for example an increase basketball recruits by 5% before 2015)
Utilising this very simple process we help in you’re planning and help set objective which you will be able to use as they have detail. Too often a common issue is that the people involved in strategic planning fail to set targets and therefore fail to plan.
It seems like an obvious point to make, but when you design your objectives you also need to consider that you will need to measure the results in some way. If you create an objective and then are not able to measure it because your company does not collect this data then you might as well not have the target, goal, objective or outcome in the first place. An example of this might be creating an objective which focuses on customer service (yes this is something worth examining when providing sports services) and then not using any strategy or tool to measure this aspect of your operations.
When looking at the collecting information try to quantify your results by giving some specific feedback or results. Having measurements which only state the situation has improved instead of maybe including by how much the improvement was experienced are less effective and can mean wasting valuable resources.
In summary strategic planning can be a useful tool for helping the long term vision and focus of your entity. It also gives everyone an opportunity to have input and can be a very positive creative process.