Going into a new year a number of Senior Executives set about to finalize the strategic plan for the upcoming year. For those in a public company, the planning process will be focused on delivering results quarterly, as the market these day is very short term orientated. For those in certain government functions the issues will be focused towards immediate results aimed at achieving positive voter acceptance often at the expense of longer term stability. Those Executives of non-profit organizations are influenced by major donor predispositions and must factor them into the planning process. Many family and privately held companies have their own sacred cows and inherent biases. Thus, while the exercise is called strategic planning there are a number of non-strategic influencers’ skewing the process from the outset.

Definition of Strategic Planning (Wikipedia):

Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.

In order to determine the future direction of the organization, it is necessary to understand its current position and the possible avenues through which it can pursue particular courses of action. Generally, strategic planning deals with at least one of three key questions:

  • “What do we do?”
  • “For whom do we do it?”
  • “How do we excel?”

Many organizations view strategic planning as a process for determining where an organization is going over the next year or—more typically—3 to 5 years (long term), although some extend their vision to 20 years.

So, strategic planning is, by definition, long term in determining the direction for an organization, however, the people engaged in the exercise are forced to think short term for their own survival. What ultimately suffers? The ability to chart a long term course for the company that will take it to a desired future achieving the Vision set at the inception.

How do companies break out of the short term thinking cycle? The following questions might help:

  • Is our original Vision still valid?
  • Do we have the right people with the right capabilities in the right roles?
  • Do they have clarity around their objectives and are these objectives consistent with the overall objectives of the company?
  • Do they have the resources to achieve their goals?
  • Is the culture of the organization consistent with the mission statement and values?
  • Do we have the ability to adjust tactically to situations that arise and still stay true to our objectives?

Planning is important but execution is everything.

Plutus Consulting Group

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