What is action plan
Action plan is a set of actions you will perform based on your strategic planning to achieve your ultimate goal. You will need to plan every single detail specially. For examples,
What are the tasks help achieve the goal?
What are the deadlines for each of the tasks as well as the ultimate goal?
What resources to be used to complete the tasks?
It helps get things organized. It also helps you stay focused on what steps to do now and next, as well as how to do them in order to achieve your goal.
What is Strategic planning
Strategic planning is the long-term goal of the organization and the planning of its implementation. It is a formal process and ritual, and mainstream business-management programs such as MBA include corporate strategic planning and execution as an important module for any level of people. SWOT analysis is often used for strategic planning.
First, you need to have an objective to achieve. Then, you will find a set of tactics that helps achieve the objective. After that, you set a set of tasks to be done based on your strategy and plan it in detail. This is the combination of how strategic planning and action plan are set to achieve a specific goal.
How to write Action Plan
- Identify goals and seek for solutions
Before you go for action, you always need to know what you are doing. In this case, you are taking action to achieve your goals. Therefore, you will need to know clearly what your goals are. And then what kind of solution needs be done to achieve the goals.
- Set a deadline
Time is limited. Ask yourself when you need the goal to be accomplished. It doesn’t need to be accurate, but you get a target. It helps you the future planning steps about what task should be done in what time what the limited time constraint. You will be more focus on completing all the task to achieve your goals before the deadline.
- List of tasks
The big picture has been drawn. Now, you need to set out what kind of action or tasks are needed to be done to reach your goals. It involves prorization. What should I do first? What should I do next after X is done? And so on. Be mindful of the deadline you set in the previous steps. You may need to scarify some tasks because of time constraint.
- Analyze and allocate resources
Actions are not necessarily needed to be purely done by yourself. Make sure you delegate the tasks that are time consuming or are not in your expertize. The aim is to complete the tasks efficiently. Resources are limited like time, you need to have a good budget planning on what tasks to delegate and what tasks to be done by yourself and still can accomplish your goals effectively.
- Schedule your actions
Now everything is planned. The final step is to take action to implement your action plan. Prepare a schedule that writes down your goals and deadline clearly, set what time to do each task that you’ve planned and the resources needed. Remember to also set a deadline for each task and make sure you stick with your schedule. Review the Schedule regularly depending on your circumstance and make any adjust of the tasks if necessary.
Strategic planning process
The strategic plan is to develop the long-term goals and to put it into practice. It is a formal process and ritual. Some big companies are taking the initiative to plan for things within 5-10 years. The development of strategic planning is divided into three stages:
1. Determine the goal. That is, the enterprise in the future development process to meet the various changes to achieve the goal.
2. Planning. After the goal has been determined, considering by what means, what measures and what methods to achieve this goal. This is strategic planning.
3. To form a text of strategic planning for evaluation, approval and revision.
The characteristics of strategic planning
The effectiveness of strategic planning includes two aspects.
First, whether the strategy is correct, the correct strategy should be a good match between the resources and the environment. Second, whether the strategy is suitable for the management process of the Organization that is to match the organizational activities.
An effective strategy generally has the following characteristics:
(1) Clear objectives – the objectives of strategic planning should be clear. The content should be inspiring. The goal must be advanced but achievable based on the efforts. The language of its description should be firm and concise.
(2) Executable – the description of a good strategy should be clear and enforceable, and it should be a guide for people at all levels to understand it, execute it and align their strategy with it.
(3) Personnel implementation – Individual strategic plans define the responsibilities of each individual and can fully mobilize the enthusiasm of everyone. On the one hand, inspire people to the ways of thinking. On the other hand, increase the vitality and creativity of the organization. In a complex organization, it is difficult to identify all opportunities by only counting on the top leaders.
(4) Flexibility – The goals may not change over time, but the scope of its activities and the form of planning can be constantly changing. The strategic plan being developed at every single stage is only a temporary document, which is only applicable to the present and should be periodically checked and reviewed, and flexible enough to adapt to the needs of change.
1. Lack of long-term development planning. There is no clear development strategy and competitive strategy.
2. Strategic decision-making is more arbitrary and lack of scientific decision-making mechanism.
3. The judgment of the company strategy depends solely on the intuition and experience of the leaders. Although the staff hard work, if the leadership is conscientious, the enterprise is stagnant.
4. Lack of awareness of the market and the competitive environment and lack of quantitative objective analysis.
5. Blindly chasing the market hot spots and over diversification, resulting in scattered resources and management confusion.
6. Strategy formulation does not communicate fully between the stakeholders leading to the lack of understanding and support within the organization of the established strategy.
7. The strategic objectives have not been fully decomposed There is no specific action plan and cannot be implemented into the day-to-day activities.
Strategic planning examples
Dominant brand recognition: Amazon is synonymous with online sales services, and Amazon is focused on improving customer satisfaction in its business process.
Pioneer Advantage: Amazon is undoubtedly the leader in the online retailing industry.
Cost structure: Amazon effectively utilizes cost advantages, operates in thin profits, and is still profitable in trading.
Business development: Amazon continuously improves its service level and provide diversified services.
Low margins: Amazon has a slim profit margin to maintain its cost-leading strategy. But low margins make companies susceptible to external shocks and crises, as well as other market changes.
Seasonality: Amazon has a seasonal difference in revenue and business scope, with sales and revenue peaking in the fourth quarter of each year.
Amazon is a platform supporting diversified e-commerce business. The growing focus on the products and services of their own brands Amazon. There can be opportunity for the local sites to participate in the international market with the international expansion of Amazon. This is a win-win situation for both Amazon and businesses cooperate strategically and develop the industry.
4. Threats Due to low profit margins
Amazon suffers from patent infringement and other litigation
The entry barriers to electronic commerce industry weaken
The network security problem
No surprise, we will certainly have a lot of goals in our life can not be achieved. We must ask ourselves seriously: if there is another chance, which goals do you want to achieve from heart? How many goals have you missed?
The key to achieve your goal is to take thorough action. Let us take a look action plan in detail.
DIY Action Plan template: 3W – Where, Why, What
The first step is to set the goals, plans, visions, or dreams that you want to achieve this year. Think about what you want to achieve before the last day of the year. Do you want to have a lighter posture? How much money do you want to save? Do you want to learn a new language? In short, what are the things you want to accomplish in the year. This is the 1st W: Where do you want to take yourself this year? The direction that you want to focus this year.
The second step is to write down what you want to achieve. Get it out of your heart and it will be your motivation to remind yourself like the alarm that your goal is worth to be achieved. Many people set the goal and throw it aside, or because they are too busy at work to slow down the progress. These are all because of forgetting their original plan. At this moment, ask yourself the 2nd W: What is the emotional source that causes you to achieve your goals? Why is there such a resonance?
The third step is to do something that really helps you achieve your goals. This is the step that everyone should be familiar with. Yes, To-do-List. However, I am not talking about 3 or 5 items. I am talking about to list out as many tasks as possible as long as you think those actions will help achieve the goals.
The point is that when you start out, don’t care about if the actions works out great or not, or if they are effective. Just simply write down all the ways you think will work. After that, apply the 80/20 rule to pick the most productive projects from the list. If you find that the one you picked is not as effective as you think it is, then choose another one from the list. Also, group the tasks that can be done together and do them once.
The point is that if you can think of any action can help you achieve you goat, go for it. You can always adjust the effectiveness of the actions. This is the 3rd W: What should you do to accomplish your goal?
Final word: Take action
What I observe people tend to make themselves into trouble even though they have a goal and a plan. They usually have the following behaviors:
- Immersed in negative emotions.
- They jumped to confusion in the early planning stage.
- Always search for the reasons to object their action plan.
- Keep asking others what should be done but never use the advice.
- Never take action even if you have made a discussion. They simply don’t take action and make themselves into trouble because of these behaviors.
After you have done all the planning about strategy and action, and make a conclusion, what you need to do is to put it into action. But people tend to worry about things and postpone action. They will find all sorts of people to ask, get advice, and then put this advice to ask another person again. Don’t fall into the trap of always thinking and asking.
As long as you have a solid strategic plan and action plan, the next steps is success is simply to take action.