A strategic framework is your road map for moving your business forward. Instead of doing what seems like the next best thing, you can stop and take the time to develop a strategy. You'll need to consider some key elements to build that strategy. Once you have your strategic framework in place, you can utilize it repeatedly to alter or refine your course.

Vision and Mission

Your company must have a mission statement that clearly states your values and what your company will contribute to the business world, society or simply your customer's well-being. Your mission describes the general activities you will engage in to bring your vision to fruition. For example, a vision could be stated, "XYZ Company will become the premiere provider of travel services in the state." The mission would state, "We provide travel customers a stellar service, lowest prices and the best travel convenience." The rest of your strategic framework springs from your vision and mission. In this example, XYZ Company would build a strategy that would include marketing itself on a state-wide basis based on superior customer service.

Internal and External Drivers

Before you implement your strategy, you must fully understand the forces inside and outside your company that can make your strategy successful. You need to ask yourself what internal characteristics and resources you have that will take you where you want to go. To return to our example, the owner of XYZ Company could recognize that he has a highly experienced and qualified customer service manager, a well-designed training program for customer service personnel and software that shows the best accommodations at the best prices state-wide. These would all be internal drivers. An example of an external driver would be a shift in the market away from do-it-yourself travel sites to full service travel agencies. In short, you must find the advantages you have within your company and opportunities in the marketplace that you can use as reality checks in your strategic framework.

Tasks, Objectives and Goals

Every task your employees engage in should be clearly related to your vision and mission and lead directly to achieving short-term objectives. Each of those objectives must be a giant step in the direction of reaching your large goals. Any tasks, objectives or goals that are not plainly part of your long-term strategy do not belong in your strategic framework. Build your strategy on a scaffolding of tasks, objectives and goals you have consciously chosen.

Time Frames

Your strategic framework will gain a sense of urgency from time frames. All of the deadlines for your objectives, goals and tasks must not only be clearly stated, they must be clearly communicated to employees. If your workforce knows, for example, that your strategy is to launch two new products in the next 18 months, that framework will serve as a guide for adding capacity to launch those products. Your time frames help every department and employee measure progress.