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Article -> Summertime is Business Strategy Time

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Date Added: August 2007

For organizations whose fiscal year ends in fall, strategic planning should begin today. For others, it’s time for another continuous review of your present plan for a fourth-quarter push. Strategic plans should not be thrown in the archives with grandpa’s first dollar earned – they should be reviewed.
By creating a comprehensive view of all your organization’s core elements, strategic planning maximizes profitability and productivity. Effective strategic planning saves time and money, while increasing employees’ understanding and engagement in the planning process. This results in consistent messages and alignment throughout your organization. Yet, research shows only 11 percent of executives believe strategic planning is worth performing.
Strategic planning identifies:
·         What needs to be done (assessment)
·         How to do it (planning)
·         How to measure success (review)
Assessment. Engaging all of the organization’s functional areas – such as Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, etc. – in the planning process is critical as strategic planning must be universal throughout your organization. Accordingly, all parts of the organization should have input relating to the plan’s concepts and implementation.
Planning. Aligning the shared objective (vision/mission), strategies and goals between the organization and its functional areas prevents the “silo effect,” or selfish goals. It is important for all employees to know and live the plan, and leaders are responsible for involving others in the process.
Review. Once the plan is completed, continuous review is necessary for execution and measurement. Continuous review involves updating and measuring strategies, goals and decisions. The plan must be flexible and adapt to new decisions throughout the year, rather than following the constraints of a traditional annual review process. When organizations are too rigid, they miss opportunities to make effective strategic decisions.
Strategic decisions are the benefit of a well constructed strategic plan. These are high-impact decisions significantly increasing 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. These decisions proactively drive your organization forward, as opposed to knee-jerk reactions.
The incentives to strategic planning are organizational alignment, improved decision making and profitability. Your strategic plan puts you in the driver’s seat on the freeway of decision making. Your strategy is the map. Roadblocks – competitors, unforeseen expenses, employee and customer turnover – will appear. Turns will be inevitable. Once the direction of your organization is set, each turn is a controlled decision on the journey to ultimate success. 
This article was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on July 22, 2007.
Summertime is Business Strategy Time. 
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