Article -> Your Roadmap to Successful Strategy
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Date Added: October 2006
For organizations whose fiscal year ends in December, this is a perfect time to begin strategic planning. For others, it’s time to review your plan as it should be continuously reviewed. Strategic planning is a process to create a comprehensive view of all core elements of your organization to maximize profitability and productivity.
Effective strategic planning saves time, reduces costs and increases employees’ understanding and engagement in the planning process. This results in consistent corporate messages and alignment throughout your organization. Yet, research shows only 11 percent of executives believe strategic planning is worth the effort.
It may not be worth the effort to the remaining 89% of executives because it is a challenging process that requires an investment of time and resources. However, done well, it is worthwhile and rewarding.
Strategic planning includes identifying what your organization needs to do, determining how to do it, and executing and measuring your success. To begin the process, ask, what is missing from the organization that could increase our success? Involving all functional areas such as Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, etc. is vital as strategic planning must be universal throughout your organization. All parts of the organization should have input on the plan and how to do it.
Aligning the shared objective (vision), strategies and goals between the organization and functional areas prevents the “silo effect” whereby each area is only concerned about themselves, rather than the organization as a whole. Leaders are responsible for standardizing and communicating the planning process, because to ensure success, it is important for all employees to know and live the plan. Communication will be discussed in the next article.
Once the plan is completed, continuous review is necessary as part of execution and measurement. Continuous review is continuously updating and measuring strategies, goals and decisions. The plan must be flexible as new decisions occur throughout the year. However, most organizations use a traditional review process. This only occurs annually, and when it happens, organizations have missed the boat on making effective strategic decisions.
Strategic decisions are the product of a well constructed strategic plan. These are high-impact decisions significantly increasing company profits – both short- and long-term. Research indicates that organizations without a strategic plan make only one strategic decision annually. Those with a plan, dependent on an annual review, make 2.5 strategic decisions annually. However, organizations with a strategy, dependent on continuous review, make an average of 6.1 strategic decisions annually.
Based on this, why wouldn’t an organization create a strategic plan, engage its people, align the organization, and continuously review the plan? Your strategic plan puts you in the driver’s seat on the freeway of decision making. Your strategy is the map. Roadblocks will appear – competitors, unforeseen expenses, employee and customer turnover – and turns need to be made. With the direction of your organization set, each turn is a major decision on the journey to ultimate success.
This article was featured in the Green Bay Press Gazette on Tuesday September 26, 2006. S:\Knowledge Center\Articles on website\Strategy\YourRoadmaptoSuccessfulStrategyPG092606.pdf