The term Strategic Planning is itself a self-explanatory one and it is in use ever since man learned to hunt and live. Or, we may say strategic planning is all about setting a direction, which helps an individual or a group, achieve a specific or a number of targets. It is all about selecting the best possible alternatives within one’ own limitations. However, there’s more to it and that’s what we are going to learn in the following paragraphs.
Why Simplifying Strategic Planning Matters
Strategic planning requires making decisions upon several factors, which range from allocating resources (capital and people) to applying techniques for business analysis
- SWOT i.e. strength/ weakness/opportunities/threats;
- PEST i.e. political/economic/social/technological;
- STEER or Socio-cultural/Technological/Economic/Ecological and Regulatory factors and
- EPISTEL or Environment, Political, Informatics, Social, Technological, Economic and Legal
to set the course for a prosperous future a minimum of 3 or 5 years down the line; at certain cases, strategies are set even taking a couple of decades under consideration. Some Microsoft’s strategists suggesting building a business for 6 generations. Personally, that is over the top but worth considering at least. In my opinion dynamics of modern businesses are way too unpredictable to be planned for longer than 5 years.
The key strategic planning questions thus asked are:
What’s to be done?
For whom it’s to be done?
How to position to leverage on own strengths?
How to maximise outputs with minimum inputs?
How to excel in today’s overly competitive environment?
What are the likely changes in your industry in 3-5 years from today?
You cannot determine where to go unless you know where you are at; it applies for an organization as well. The next step is determining its destination and the last – the path to follow. All these three – put together – makes for the strategic plan of an organization. In short, these three key components are what generally referred as the vision, mission and goal.
To explain a little more elaborately, Vision is the desire or intention to carry an organization/entity into a prosperous future state, which is also its fundamental objective; Mission is its fundamental purpose of existence and its actions that make it achieve its Vision. Thus, a mission statement is details on the actions undertaken by that organization (what it does) and its fundamental purpose, which is inclusive of its beliefs or values and drive its culture, priorities and sets its framework, while a Vision statement defines what an organization or entity wants to become.
This serves as a source of inspiration to the company, providing one or more, clear, decision-making criterion. But one thing needs to be remembered: Vision and Mission statements are not interchangeable; not even on a longer or a shorter term. A simple way to remember it is: Vision describes the importance of achieving the Mission, the former defining a purpose/broader goal for existing in a business. As for Mission statement, it is more specific about everything self-achievable by an enterprise.
Can you stay in control with strategic planning?
But everything has some amount of flaw into it and strategic planning is no exception to this rule; though the tool effectively plots a company’s direction, it is not sufficient to foretell exactly the evolvement of a specific market and your initiatives. There are no certainties. Everything is questionable more than ever before. Being at the top of things (or believing you are there) requires finding out any upcoming issue; though it can be speculated, it may go wrong at certain times and there is nothing wrong about it.
Strategic planning is a process not the event or once in a lifetime mental exercise. This makes a strategic innovation and further brainstorming on the matter an integral part of with the strategic planning; it is important if survival is expected in a roiled business climate. So, embrace uncertainty and dive into strategic planning…