Why spend time on strategic planning?
Strategic planning is more than just a bit of mundane corporate terminology. It is fundamental to the direction and ultimate success of an organisation. It should lay out plans for all the key activities of a business with the aims of delivering competitive advantage and profitability. Ergo, it is important!
Why then do so many organisations fail to invest time in defining a strategy? We find, particularly with SME’s, where capacity is scarce and role responsibilities are broad, strategic planning tends to go to the bottom of the to-do pile. MD’s and CEO’s of smaller organisations find themselves having to do more than their corporate cousins, making the dedication of time to business planning difficult. It is inevitable that fewer resources results in an all-hands-on-deck mentality: one minute you are shifting boxes, the next you are answering customer calls, then dealing with the bank and then negotiating a deal. Managing an SME requires versatility, resilience and a broad range of skills. The constant demand of their time means that there really is little time to lift their head above the parapet and take stock.
But what if they did? Carving out time to plan and think bigger picture can really make a positive difference to the success of an organisation. Reviewing external factors such as the market, competitors, consumers and customers provides insight into opportunities and threats. It can highlight where competitors are winning, or where they are better on price or speed to market. Keeping up to date with market and consumer trends can also help shape a strategy - with technology change (such as digital marketing) progressing at speed, businesses need to ensure that they are making the most of new levers and aren’t being left behind by their competition.
It is equally important to conduct internal reviews, such as organisation structure, personnel, processes and systems, since these too can provide many ‘light bulb moments.’ We often find businesses get themselves set up then stick with the process flow and systems they started with. Having the right processes and systems in place can not only save time and money but enable a better service to customers. Processes and systems also need to be scalable: as a business grows, processes need to evolve to continue to be fit for purpose. Thinking about business challenges 2-5 years into the future could make a significant difference in the decision-making process when stock is flying off the shelves today.
It is also imperative to consider strategic planning as a regular exercise. Factors such as market trends, economics and legislation changes, and businesses need to change with them. Building dynamic plans and regularly revisiting them to keep them up to date as the environment changes could be the difference between success and failure.
So, if you are managing a business or department and don’t have a strategic plan, make time. If you can’t make time, hire someone who does. Pure Blue Ocean could really make the difference as to whether your business sinks or floats. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org