By Jett, Karen L.
Strategic Finance , Vol. 91, No. 6
Imagine that you are attending your annual planning retreat and are getting ready to depart for vacation when you get pulled into one more "important" meeting. At this meeting, you're notified that the existing owner has sold the business, and the new owner is looking to you to create a strategic planning process within the next few days.
That's what happens to Rory in Paul Niven's Roadmaps and Revelations. It might not have been too bad, but, like many privately held businesses, the planning process actually consisted of making and tracking an annual budget based on the vision of the owner of the company. Using a parable format, the story of Roadmaps and Revelations follows Rory as he learns how to create a successful business strategy while driving to a family reunion.
As management accountants, we tend to be like Rory and focus on the financial and measurable aspects of strategic design. We're often relegated to the role of creating the associated budget and reporting back on whether the strategic plan has been met based solely on whether or not the budget has been exceeded. The theme of Roadmaps and Revelations, however, is that strategic planning is much greater than annual budgeting.
Underlying the entire lesson in strategic planning is the definition of strategy as "the broad priorities adopted by an organization in recognition of its operating environment and in pursuit of its mission." While this may sound a bit broad and overwhelming, it serves to simplify the entire strategic planning process.
Niven believes an organization's mission is key to the strategic planning process because it "defines your reason for being as an organization beyond succeeding financially." Once you understand this reason for being, it acts as a guide through the rest of the process. …