Strategic Planning: It’s about Engaging in Business Warfare
How to Plan Strategically
Strategic planning comes to the business realm from the military where strategic planning is for the purpose of engaging in warfare or military deployment. In a business context, the strategic planning objective is to prepare for one’s business for survival (or to win in a hostile environment) by defeating one’s enemies (or competitors and other threats to business). Strategic planning is well worth the extra effort to ensure your business has the greatest potential for success in today’s hostile and ever changing business environment. Following is an uncomplicated approach to strategic planning:
Assess – Plan – Deploy
Begin by assessing the business’s past and current performance. Ask, “What has worked and what has not?” Is the business’s vision and mission on the right track by having achieved its goals? Are the business’s core competencies still relevant or are they dated? Is the business’s talent stale or burned out? These are just some of the important questions to ask in assessing past and current performance.
By thoroughly assessing past and current business performance the results or data will enable you to identify areas for improving, revising, or discarding. Now you are in a position to examine your business’s strengths and weaknesses. Do you have the resources (people, finances, supplies, customers, etc.) to effectively engage in business warfare? The answer, either way, gives you the information needed to plan effectively.
Assess focuses on where you’ve been and where you want to go.
The next phase is to map out the direction the business needs to focus on for successfully achieving the business’s vision and mission. Do you need to increase or improve your resources? Do your employees have the skills necessary to achieve your strategic plan? Do you have the right or relevant goals for your business situation? Are you aware of current trends in your industry? The answers to these questions will help you plan strategically.
The planning process includes identifying and setting priorities. In strategic planning all aspects of the business will have priorities including those for customers, employees, business development, product/services development, and financial. Based on the priorities identified, the next step is to establish strategic goals.
Strategic goals should include the traditional and proven SMART goal-setting steps: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time (deadline) driven.
Another critical aspect of the strategic planning process is to create contingency plans to address the possible best and worst case scenarios, thus preparing the business for both the expected and unexpected. A tool to help create contingency plans is to ask, “What if…” for possible scenarios realistic to your business.
Now that you have your strategic plan prepared its time to deploy.
Communicate and engage your employees. Clearly communicate to everyone in your business what the goals and expectations are for them individually and how their role contributes to the success of the plan. In other words get buy-in.
As the strategic plan advances, communicate both the progress and set-backs my means of a company blog or intranet or even the tried-and-true all-hands meetings. The most important strategy in deploying any plan is to communicate clearly, often, and get feedback. Be sure your business has a culture that communicates feedback honestly and openly (without fear of reprisals) otherwise poor communication may result in an internal defeat and failure.
Be flexible and continually adjust your plan as needed. Don’t stick to a strategy that just isn’t working. The receiving of feedback may also reveal a more effective strategy to accomplish your plan.
When is the best time to engage in strategic planning? Today! Every hour, day, month that goes by without having established a strategic plan may result in losing a battle or war that could have easily been won to keep your business operating successfully.