energizing breakthrough performance

An Organization That Doesn’t Plan Its Future Isn’t Likely to Have One

by Ronald A. Gunn, Strategic Futures principal

Why Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is an excellent way to bring your organization kicking and screaming into the turbulent present, hashing out today’s major trends and their implications. For instance, most industries have moved from a quality improvement focus to one of process reengineering. Similarly, the dominant outlook has moved from continual change to transformation. That’s nice, but what do we need to know in our business? Which way are the winds of change blowing for our organization? How can we build and sustain competitive advantage? How can we best grow and transform ourselves? Which areas of activity will yield the best investment results? What are areas for disinvestment or harvest? These are just a few of the questions that quality strategic planning poses and answers, along with other favorites such as:

  • Have we specified precise improvement goals that will make a difference?
  • Are we emphasizing high-value activities in our organization?
  • Are we accessing the resources of all of our business partners?
  • Are we combining the skills in our organization in new ways?
  • Are we minimizing the time to payback for our investments and expenditures?

The short explanation for renewed interest in strategic planning is that people have figured out that what got your organization here today won’t get it to where it needs to be tomorrow. The need for strategic planning has rarely been greater. Sudden developments, new challenges, and dynamic technologies have tilted the landscape, shifting the behavior of both competitors and customers. Strategic planning—defining long-range goals and objectives that further the organization’s vision and mission—provides a solid framework for identifying needed resources in equipment, capital, and personnel. The plan supplies a solid basis for operational tactics and for educating employees as to future business direction and priorities: a strategic plan is a set of management decisions about what the organization will do to be successful.

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