Strategic planning continues to find application in an
ever-increasing number of organizations. Once the tool
of largest companies exclusively, it has since proven
invaluable to medium and smaller-sized firms as well.
More and more, managers in organizations of every size
are discovering the advantages of developing and
utilizing strategic planning to improve the execution
of their business plan.
Like most business processes, the key to success is in
the effective implementation of the plan. Companies that
do a good job of developing and executing their strategies
can create a competitive edge that provides increased
market share and higher gross profit margins.
Organizations that turn their plan into a "dust
collector" sitting on an executive bookshelf, will
never achieve their full growth and profit potential.
To that end, today’s writing is about Strategic
Planning. If your company is serious about exceeding
growth and profit expectations, don’t miss out on
Have a nice day, keep the faith, and stay connected.
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1. STRATEGIC PLANNING AND TACTICAL EXECUTION
Strategic planning is a business process that many
companies employ to identify critical success factors
that set the course for future growth and profits.
Lewis Carroll in "Alice in Wonderland" makes a good
case for it: "Would you tell me, please, which way I
ought to go from here?" said Alice. "That depends a
good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where...," said Alice. "Then it
doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
Like most business processes, the key to success is
the effective implementation of the plan. Companies
that do a good job of developing and executing their
strategies can create a competitive edge that provides
increased market share and higher gross profit margins.
Organizations that turn their plan into a "dust
collector" upon an executive bookshelf, will never
achieve their full growth and profit potential.
Most criticism of strategic planning is aimed at the
planning process. They question the validity of a plan
that has been based on market "guestimates", the
questionable valuation of the depth and breadth of
competitors and an optimistic assessment of the
company's internal strength and weakness. The fact
that strategic plans can be overly optimistic is not
the core problem. Although the criticism may be
appropriate, it puts the focus for improvement on the
wrong end of the process - it is the implementation
task that is critical to producing positive results
and it is here where most companies fail at strategic
Poorly implemented rational, strategic plans will
produce limited positive results. On the other hand,
overly optimistic strategic plans, effectively
implemented, can produce results beyond everyone's
expectations. This being the case, what is the key to
effective implementation? In one word - commitment!
Companies that are good at strategic planning build
commitment to the planning process and to each of the
strategies within the plan. They build commitment
throughout the organization, working with people from
all business functions to build commitment before,
during and after development of their strategic plan.
Winners begin early in building a commitment to the
strategic plan. Suggestions are encouraged from
managers at all levels, from key executives who will
participate in the planning sessions, and others who
will share responsibility for implementing the
resultant strategies. Together, they surface issues
that will require changes in business process and/or
culture and identify those constraints that will need
to be overcome if implementation is to be successful.
During planning sessions, key executives from each
functional area are all encouraged to participate and
contribute to the plan. These executives develop
strategies that build on organizational strengths and
consider resources required to accomplish those
strategies. They assure that a key executive "owns"
each strategy and commits to a time schedule for its
accomplishment. The key executives give thought to
resource planning - realizing that human resources are
the key to making positive things happen in difficult,
complex business environments - and they commit
Following the development of their plan, those
responsible for implementations develop their own
"tactical plans." These action plans, when coupled
with self-directed work teams, are major contributors
to a successful Strategic Planning implementation.
Teams use their plan to manage, to make decisions and
to grow their business. Periodically, they review
their "tactical plans" to monitor and report on the
progress of implementation - keeping the plan "alive"
by revising strategies and tactics when necessary.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
Finally, to insure successful implementation of their
strategic plan, they work on the planning process
itself. The planning group continuously "fine tunes"
the planning process to insure that inputs from all
business functions are given their due consideration
and to insure that buy-in and commitment to the final
plan is agreed upon throughout all levels of the
So, why are most operations management teams outside
of the strategic planning process? Why do many line
managers view strategic planning as a make work
project that produces little or zero value to
customers? Maybe, it's because they did not
participate in its development nor did they buy-into
its validity - let alone commit to the execution of
its strategic objectives. In short, they're not
connected to the process! To achieve a company's full
growth and profit potential, CEOs and business owners
need to insure the active participation of operation
management in the strategic planning process.
To discover why and how manufacturing winners are
mastering Bill Gaw’s “10-Basics of Strategic Planning,”
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