Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Strategic Planning - a Process with an End

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Strategic Planning - a Process with an End

Article excerpt

Strategic planning, most broadly, means defining a goal and allocating resources to move toward that goal.

Strategic planning is analytical (it involves finding the dots); and strategy formation involves synthesis (connecting the dots) via strategic thinking.

It has been my experience that most companies do not have a strategic plan, at least not in writing.

As a business owner, you have to know where you are going; have a game plan outlining how you will get there and when you will arrive.

As circumstances change, and they will, you adapt your compass readings to these changes. It is perfectly OK to change your itinerary.

A strategic plan can provide a useful focal point that moves an organization enthusiastically toward its mission, vision and goals.

Is your company ready to undertake this process?

The questions

Some questions to ask before you begin:

Do you have access to a skilled facilitator (internal or external)?

Do you have adequate time to do the research on the business environment and competition?

Is there adequate time to involve stakeholder engagement in the process?

Does the company have a leader for the strategic planning process?

Is there a budget available to allocate to this process and implementation?

Will you have buy-in from everyone necessary to accomplish this strategic plan?

Is there commitment to the process, including remaining flexible?

Is there an understanding of the process and expectations for how the plan will be used?

Strategic thinking

So where does strategic thinking fit in?

Strategic thinking guides the process of strategy formation. Expressed in very simple terms: A strategic plan should address three questions.

1. Where are we now?

2. Where do we want to be, and when?

3. How will we get there?

Where are we now?

This is your situation analysis. Gather input from internal and external sources. As you develop company intelligence, include information on the market environment and the competition, including competitive pricing.

Do a SWOT analysis, analyzing your company Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Use industry sources such as associations, trade periodicals and online data to fill in information gaps. Interview key executives and employees.

The goal

Where do we want to be?

List your organization's goals. Think of the acronym SMART: Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time- based.

Goals should take advantage of your unique value proposition in relation to your competitors. What is your competitive advantage?

Use creative thinking to explore possibilities without constraint. …

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