What Are Strategic Initiatives? (With Elements and Types)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published May 28, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
As a manager or senior employee, part of your responsibilities may include developing strategic visions or goals to help the company grow and improve. In addition, you may apply strategic thinking to create various initiatives to illustrate how the company can achieve set goals. Understanding what strategic initiatives are and how they work can help you successfully implement them in your workplace. In this article, we discuss strategic initiatives, examine their elements, review their types, explore how to create one, and highlight the benefits of strategic management.
What are strategic initiatives?
Strategic initiatives refer to detailed plans that an individual or a company implements to help them achieve their long-term visions for improvement and strategic goals. For example, suppose your goal is to improve the company's profit margin. In that case, an initiative to help you achieve this goal can be to improve the brand's awareness and target new demographics with social media and other marketing campaigns.
A strategic plan can include different initiatives and multiple projects that combine to reach a larger goal. Before implementing your initiatives, you can analyze the company's ongoing projects and tasks. This allows you to see how they fit into the strategic goals and remove those that may not be relevant.
Elements of strategic plans
Some of the common elements of strategic plans include:
The primary objective of any strategic plan is to create change. As a result, these initiatives drive the company towards the image created by its vision statement. In addition, strategic plans introduce new or modified activities to the company's operations. For example, an initiative to improve sales may include redirecting the marketing strategies to address new customer demographics or advertising on a new medium.
Scope means the important details of your plan, such as the activities, resources, and time necessary to implement the plan successfully. It's advisable that your goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound. In addition, it's essential that every strategic plan has clearly defined start and end dates, deadlines, and milestones for key results that you intend to achieve throughout the plan.
Relevant to the company's vision
The primary purpose of a strategic plan is to help a company work towards achieving its vision. As a result, it's important to identify the company's vision and mission before creating these initiatives. Doing this can help ensure that you align your plans with the company's goals. For instance, if a company's vision is to be a grooming place for young employees, a good strategic plan may be creating relevant training programs for young employees.
Relevant to performance gaps
Performance gap refers to the difference between actual gaps and ideal gaps. For example, suppose a company sets a revenue goal of $5 million but only earns $2 million. In that case, there's a performance gap of $3 million. A good strategic plan addresses this gap and creates a timeline and strategies to close it.
2 types of strategic plans
There are two broad headings to classify the types of strategic plans you can implement in a workplace. They include:
1. Level of strategy
The different levels of strategies include:
The strategies at the corporate level focus on finding markets that the company can compete. For instance, suppose a software development company wants to transition into device manufacturing. In that case, it may develop and design its hardware or collaborate with an existing manufacturer.
Business-level strategies entail creating plans to help the company thrive in the market it chooses to compete. These initiatives focus on how a company can gain an advantage over its competitors. An example of an initiative at this level may be a company improving an existing product or service to attract more customers relative to its competitors' offers on a similar product or service.
This level refers to individual teams or departments within a company. The strategies at the functional level focus on improving the processes in the corporate and business level strategies. An example of a functional level strategy may be a restaurant chain leveraging taste test results in marketing campaigns and other promotional material. It can leverage this to help it gain an advantage over competitors and improve sales.
2. The function of the strategy
You may also classify strategic plans based on their function. Some of the functions these initiatives perform include:
Corrective initiatives primarily focus on addressing a particular problem within the company and aim to fix or remove it. These initiatives are typically short-term plans that help you move to bigger and more complex initiatives. An example of a corrective initiative may be a plan to address a particular performance gap.
Constructive or expansive
Constructive or expansive initiatives typically involve new approaches, methods, or directions. As a result, these initiatives relate to business and cooperative strategies. For example, a car manufacturer specializing in sports cars may introduce a brand of sport utility vehicles. This new line may greatly expand the company's offering and customer base.
Innovative or disruptive
Innovative or disruptive initiatives aim to develop breakthrough products or ideas that may influence other organizations. For example, the introduction of online streaming services to replace televisions in the 20th century is an example of a disruptive initiative. This innovation influenced other telecommunication and entertainment businesses to create their streaming services.
These initiatives ensure that the company maintains its already existing market position or advantages in the industry. Defensive initiatives may include creating new strategies or methods to defend against competitors. For example, a traditional network company may create its streaming service to remain relevant to its customers and keep up with the competition.
How to create a strategic plan
Here are the steps for you to follow if you want to implement strategic plans in a workplace:
1. Determine your goals
It may be beneficial to review the current projects and performance gaps to help you identify your goals. It's important to ask yourself which task can help the company achieve its goals and what gaps disrupt the development process. In addition, if there're multiple gaps to fill up, you can focus on those that can have the most impact if filled and those the company can resolve.
2. Set milestones
Your milestones can act as checkpoints on the path to your goals. Achieving one milestone sets you up for the next and ensures you stay on track until you reach your goals. For instance, suppose your medium-term goal is to increase revenue by 10. In that case, some of your milestones may include providing training on new sales strategies and onboarding a minimum of 100 new customers.
3. Choose a strategy
Choosing a strategy helps you create a framework and structure for the activities you undertake to accomplish your goals. These strategies may include different initiatives. For example, suppose a company wants to improve its operational processes. In that case, it may implement strategies to improve its staff members and develop an effective inventory to monitor resources and their application.
4. Create your plan
The plan for your initiative outlines the necessary steps involved in achieving your goals. For example, your plan may include your milestones broken down into parts. You can also include the team members responsible for each task, the deadlines, and the overall duration of the initiative. After creating a detailed plan, you can distribute it to team members, executives, and other stakeholders to ensure every party involved understands the plan and their roles in them.
5. Secure buy-in
To ensure your plan is successful, it's important for key stakeholders, senior leaders, and board members to buy-in, support, or accept your initiative. You can earn their support by presenting your plan and outlining the initiative's benefits to the organization. You can also explain the emotional and financial benefits of the plan or attempt to appeal to their personal values. For instance, you can appeal to emotion and point out the reputation the company can build as one of the most efficient businesses in the country.
6. Monitor progress
Once you begin executing your plan, it's essential to monitor the initiative's progress. You can instruct project leaders and managers to submit regular updates on their tasks and milestones. These regular reports can help you ensure that the initiative stays on track.
Benefits of strategic management
Some of the benefits of strategic management include:
Competitive advantage: A company that uses strategic management may have an advantage over its competitors because it's proactive and keeps the company ahead of the development curve.
Cohesive organization: Strategic management helps create clear communication channels and goal implementation strategies company-wide.
Increased managerial awareness: Managers who apply strategic management look toward the company's future, making them aware of industry trends that may be useful to handle the company's challenges.
Sustainable growth: Applying strategic management techniques in your workplace may lead to more efficient performance, resulting in manageable growth.
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