If Strategic Planning were a Cross-Country Road Trip

Starting with your organization’s purpose and vision each step of the strategic planning process should outline a clear roadmap to successfully achieving that vision. If you think of a strategic plan like a cross country road trip it might look something like this: 

Strategic Roadmap - Strategic Planning

Let’s Breakdown Each Stop

1- 4 Key Pillars

You must know your Purpose. Why are you here? Why on earth would you take part in a cross-country road trip? What drives you? Ha, pun intended. You determine your purpose is to: Explore the world and all it has to offer making connections to different cultures, cuisines, and the great outdoors. 


Once you have found your purpose you need to establish your destination? Your destination is your Vision. Where do you envision yourself when you open the car door at the end of your trip? Imagine opening the door after a grand adventure where you fueled your body, mind, and spirit. You step out onto the sand and you watch the sunset over the ocean while you write your last journal entry. You did it and in doing so you found yourself, connected with nature, and found a great appreciation for many different cultures and cuisines. 


Your Values are what you believe. You value adventure. Believe in fueling your soul with unique cuisines. Value the beauty of the great outdoors. You have great respect for the laws and rules to protect all life, and resources for future generations.


Your mission must align with your purpose, vision, and values. Your mission is, “To travel across the country exploring new people, places, and cultures and inspire a new generation of children through these adventures. 

2- SWOT Analysis

As you consider the first 4 and especially important steps, it is important to try and think about as many internal and external factors that might be a speed bump or completely derail your path along the way. Yes, a SWOT analysis is still important. If you are heading into the mountains, you would be foolish to not anticipate a potential snowstorm in the middle of winter. What about the vehicle you will be driving? Is it durable enough to make it all the way across the country through the desert on a hot summer day?

3- Strategic Areas of Focus

These are what you will focus on during your trip that will ultimately help you achieve your vision. You strategically choose areas to focus on that align with your purpose, vision, and values and are sure to bring lots of adventure including visiting historical landmarks, national parks, and finding food from your favorite cooking show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. AND you also value life, so you choose to focus on following the Laws too. 

4- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

You will determine if your trip is successful by identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These must be measurable. Again, everything must align with the step before it. So, you decide on the following KPIs.

  • You will drive from Maine to California in one month or less without getting a single speeding, parking, or trespassing ticket. This directly ties back to following the laws. It is time-based and measurable.
  • A month is a long time to travel and even though Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is your favorite food show you also value protecting life which includes yours too, so you decide success will be measured if you can find 4 of these restaurants on your journey. Just one per week.
  • You also want to focus on historical landmarks and national parks. You determine this is the best way to explore the world and all it has to offer. It will give you plenty to write about. It is definitely adventurous and will show you plenty of the great outdoors. These two align so perfectly you decide you will make it to one historical landmark in each state you pass through and at least 8 national parks throughout your journey. 
5- Success Tactics

The Strategy you use here is most important and should always align with your destination. If your road trip is from Maine to California, you have multiple paths you can take, but the two main paths are north through Colorado or South through New Mexico. Both take 50 hrs., but the south is 100 miles longer. This is where you need to consider all the previous steps including your SWOT analysis. Your work will only give you time off in the month of January meaning your road trip is in the middle of winter. Even though the Colorado route is shorter your SWOT analysis helps you to identify that bad weather is an extreme possibility that may cause significant delays along the way. You identify these Success Tactics and believe they will give you the best chance to achieve your KPI’s. 

  • Your first KPI is to drive from Maine to California in one month or less without getting a single speeding, parking, or trespassing ticket. 

What will help you accomplish this? Maybe you take an inventory of the safety features of your car and determine since it is 10 years old, does not have cruise control and has not had its tires replaced in 4 years it might not be the most successful tool to achieve your full vision. You could fly, but man that would be expensive, time consuming and you would have to rent a car anyway to get to each stop. But that does not quite align with your vision or values and certainly will not help you reach your KPI’s. 

Success Tactic #1

You decide your first success tactic will be to rent a newer model car with cruise control from a rental car company with services throughout the entire country. 

  • Your second KPI is to eat at 4 Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
  • Your third is to visit one historical landmark in each state you pass through 
  • The fourth and final KPI is to visit at least 8 national parks
Success Tactic #2

You believe that your second success tactic can help you achieve all three of these. It will be to design an all-inclusive roadmap highlighting your journey from start to finish with every stop along the way.

6- Work Plan

Now it is time to get to work. The final step before you start your journey is to write out the steps you need to take to achieve your success tactics. When should each task be accomplished and how much is going to cost. This will be your Work Plan. First, you decided you are going to rent a car. What are the action steps to achieve that? 

  • Research to find the right rental car that is supported across the country and fits in your $10,000 budget
  • Determine the day you will pick it up and when it will be returned.
  • Make the reservation. 
  • Pick up the car the day before your trip

Next, you decided that you would design an all-inclusive roadmap highlighting your journey from start to finish with every stop along the way.

Your work plan might look like this:

  • Research a list of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
  • Identify where all the National Parks are
  • Create a list of historic landmarks in the states you will be driving through
  • Plot each of the destinations on a map of the United States including a couple of extras of each to plan for the unexpected
  • Determine which ones are “on the way” or most important keeping in mind mileage and cost of gas
  • Continue to develop your all-inclusive roadmap with hotels, gas stations, and any other destinations important to your trip’s success.
7- Strategic Dashboard

Lastly, do not forget your journal and extra pens as you begin your epic journey. You will be able to track your success along the way and share it with future generations to come. This will also act as your Strategic Dashboard where you can follow your progress and determine how successful this cross-country adventure has been.

Are you ready for your next trip?

Having a clearly aligned strategic plan and understanding what obstacles and opportunities may come your way will help you stay on course and achieve your vision. Strategic Planning does not have to be hard. Also, you should not have to choose between strategic planning and funding your programs. Strategic planning does not have to be expensive like choosing to fly instead of renting the car. To create a strategic plan that is your roadmap to success and fits your budget and timeline, visit Choose courses and select the strategic planning package that works best for you.

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