Strategic Plan - Unified Components
Every Strategic Plan is comprised of several key components.
These components are individually essential to the success of a strategic plan and collectively create a firm's path to success. Each component, which includes, values, vision, mission, SWOT, business plan, objectives, and the various elements of change management must be addressed and implemented completely to create a Strategic Plan.
This article provides a summary of each of these components.
A values statement identifies how a firm treats its customers, employees, vendors, and capital partners. Values are unchanging and, ideally, are personally embraced by the staff based on each person's worldview and not solely as a means of compliance. A list of values may also reflect ethics and is tailored to identify how a specific firm conducts its activities.
This list may include:
· We do not lie, cheat, or steal
· We treat each other with respect
· We do not yell at or harass other employees
At our firm, we listen when others speak and do not interrupt each other. An internet search result of “values statement” will provide many examples.
A vision statement identifies A company’s trajectory. It is the long-term goal and is generally a stable element that does not change quickly or needlessly.
A mission statement identifies what a company does to provide a value-added product resulting in a positive customer experience and a profitable business result. A mission may require periodic adjustments based on the content of the strategic feedback loop.
Self-assessment & SWOT
A self-assessment is an honest and open internal evaluation of a company's capabilities. A company’s capability is a function of the employee’s capability, which may be categorized by separating groups and individuals based on their respective knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA). Through a capability assessment, a firm's leadership must honestly analyze its ability to achieve its mission via successfully implementing its objectives. For example, if a firm's head of IT cannot ensure system access, this weakness must be identified as a skill-set shortfall. Conversely, if a firm's IT group is able to excel at providing system access, then technology may be a highly developed strength. The firm's strengths and weaknesses are related to internal capabilities as part of a ‘strength, weakness, opportunity, and threats (SWOT) analysis.
Strength and weakness relate to the firm’s internal capability, while opportunity and threats relate to the external environment to which the firm must adapt. During 2020, falling interest rates created a refinance boom that created an external opportunity that may expose the firm’s internal weakness related to the ability to deploy increased capacity rapidly. SWOT is a standard tool used to evaluate a firm's internal and external capabilities.
Business Plan Components
The business plan identifies the basis for the strategic objectives. The business plan includes a marketing plan that identifies anticipated sales over the next 12 to 24 months. The marketing plan identifies how the firm reaches customers and how the firm attracts new staff members to generate and support the anticipated sales volume. The marketing plan also drives the organization’s size and staffing composition based on a staff capacity model.
A staff capacity model is used based on examining the operational workflows and technology design to estimate the number of employees required in each position based on the marketing plan’s activity forecast. The financial forecast then identifies the revenue given the sales forecast and the costs associated with the activity and staffing complement to support the sales activity. The costs are based on the past financial results and the staffing capacity calculator given the anticipated sales or volume activity. A cash flow estimate is created from the financial forecast to identify the amount of working capital required to support the organization based on the anticipated sales activity.
Combining the marketing plan, the capacity plan, the financial forecast, and the cash flow estimate becomes the firm’s business plan. The tasks required to implement the business plan create the strategic objectives needed to achieve the company's Vision and Mission implemented consistent with the firm's Values.
Objectives are the series of tasks that transform the company’s vision and mission into performance benchmarks. These are used to measure success by identifying actions that must be achieved to fulfill the mission in a manner consistent with the firm’s values. A company exhibits strategic intent when it actively and perpetually pursues its strategic objectives by directing its resources and competitive actions to achieve each objective. Objectives are most likely to be adjusted based on the strategic feedback loop, which provide measurement.
Dr. Lewin examined behavioral dynamics to identify how employees accept change. Strategic planners know that strategy implementation requires achieving the objectives identified to accomplish the firm's mission. A firm's strategic plan might identify the need to change how products or services are delivered to customers. The firm's subsequent efforts to implement this change (strategic tasks) may require employees to alter their behavior, which is commonly met with resistance.
The methods used to encourage and persuade employees to accept a new job function or a new way of completing tasks begin with inclusion. Employees are more likely to embrace change and accept a new process when they are part of the strategic discussion as well as the solution. Many books focus solely on change acceptance strategies to help leaders implement the alterations required by their strategic plan, including Dr. Lewin’s Unfreeze, Change, Refreeze management model.
Change Management and Leadership
Changing employee behavior is enhanced when the employees trust the leader. Trust is enhanced when there is authentic communication between employees and leadership. Communication is more than a periodic memo or a presentation to the whole company. Authentic communication occurs when employees can share their thoughts honestly, and leadership listens actively. One of the best ways to demonstrate active listening is to ask clarifying follow-up questions to employees, so they are able to present their points of view.
Feedback Loop - Measurement
The feedback loop is a circle of self-assessment and market assessment, implemented perpetually, which significantly impacts the objectives and may touch the firm’s vision and mission. Every objective is measured frequently. Think of each objective as a task within a self-improvement project plan (strategic plan) where progress is measured daily, weekly, or monthly based on the progress of each task.
Launching strategic objectives without measurement is like driving a car without a speedometer or a gas gauge. Measurement and adjustment are the foundational tools used to fine-tune the strategic initiative. When the market changes, it is pointless to be an amazing buggy whip maker when there are no buggies.
The actual effort to address the strategic planning process is endless, with each year’s reassessment and plan update requiring months of effort. Most sophisticated companies begin the strategic planning process in October for launch with the new year. The annual tasks to complete the self-assessment, SWOT, marketing plan, staff capacity assessment, and financial plan require all the leaders' and staff members' participation. The objectives are established after the business plan components are complete. It is best not to head down the road until the route and destination are identified. Avoid the pressure to jump ahead or complete the planning process out of order as each element leverages the prior activity.
Given the reliance on data-driven estimates of future activity and the decision tools noted below, research has demonstrated that, when the strategic planning process is implemented correctly, a firm’s probability of success increases significantly. It is noteworthy to consider the variability of the estimates by establishing a worst-case, base-case, and best-case marketing plan and financial forecast with the difference in the three scenarios used to create solutions based on the defined potential outcomes.
If the planning process seems like a daunting task, then hire a facilitator to help bring clarity to the activity and guide the team to launch the SWOT, the business plan components, and then orchestrate the formulation of objectives.
Dr. Schell and the MBS Financial Services team helps firms implement a comprehensive strategic plan.
MBS Financial Services supports the following areas:
Growth Strategy – We can help you plan and execute a growth strategy.
Hedging & Pipeline Risk Management - Dr. Schell can help explain how hedging functions, the benefits of hedging, and the risks associated with the activity. See blog posts.
Technology must align with a firm's strategic objective. Every mortgage lender's technology infrastructure significantly impacts its customer experience and employee workflow. MBS will help select, configure and deploy the best technology solution.
Executive Development - Leadership is a learned skill. Dr. Schell can teach you to be an amazing leader, an effective manager, and an inspiring coach that can foster a vibrant culture.
About Dr. Schell:
Dr. Andy Schell, DBA (Ph.D.), MSML, MBA, CPA/CFF, CMB
Dr. Schell is CEO, Managing Partner, and Co-Founder of Mortgage Banking Solutions and the Founder of MBS Financial Services ("MBS"), based in Austin, Texas. Dr. Schell is known for his ability to turn "vision into reality" and "chaos into order" as he finds creative solutions to the challenges his clients face addressing Revenue Stability, Technology Enhancement, Financial Management, and Workflow Efficiency.
He has 4 decades of experience as a strategist directing the activity of both small and large groups of employees including mortgage lending activity at Bank of America. His leadership knowledge extends from his hands-on experience and his academic training in his MBA, his master's degree in leadership, and his doctoral work to examine employee dynamics given leader stimulus.
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Find more information at
DoctorSchell@MBS-Team.com ; (512) 501-2812;
Doctor Schell the Profit Doctor