Strategic planning is a process in which organizational leaders determine their vision for the future as well as identify their goals and objectives for the organization. The process also includes establishing the sequence in which those goals should fall so that the organization is enabled to reach its stated vision.
Organizations generally look three to five years ahead when engaged in strategic planning. The strategic planning process results in a strategic plan, a document that articulates both the decisions made about the organization's goals and the ways in which the organization will achieve those goals. The strategic plan is intended to guide the organization's leaders in their decision-making moving forward.
Strategic planning has many benefits. It forces organizations to be aware of future opportunities and challenges. It also forces organizations to understand what resources will be needed to seize upon or overcome those opportunities and challenges. Additionally, strategic planning gives individuals a sense of direction and marshals them around a common mission. It creates standards and accountability. Strategic planning also helps organizations limit or avoid time spent on crisis management, where they're reacting to unexpected changes that they failed to anticipate and/or prepare for.