fire, aim. Wait, the sequence is wrong! But, does
this sequence describe the way you do business?
Unfortunately, many of today’s businesses “fire”
first and “aim” later in an effort to seize an
opportunity in the marketplace. While this particular
strategy may yield some positive results in the
short term, it may have a different effect in
the long term. So, what can you do to avoid this?
Strategic planning offers options!
planning may best be summed up by the words of
one of the country’s most prominent business authorities,
Peter Drucker. According to Mr. Drucker, “Strategic
planning does not deal with future decisions.
It deals with the futurity of present decisions.
What we have to do today is to be ready for an
uncertain tomorrow.” The idea sounds simple enough.
In fact, in the 1960s the popularity of corporate
strategy sky-rocketed and nearly every CEO earned
his keep by categorizing, analyzing, quantifying
and predicting. Through these exercises, it was
believed that one could plot a strategy that would
safely steer a company to the threshold of success
and beyond. By the 1980s, however, U.S. companies
found themselves fighting for market share with
their global competitors. In the struggle to catch
up, corporate America began the infamous trend
of reengineering. While reengineering may help
squeeze a little more profit out of operations,
it does little to generate a distinctive competitive
advantage. That is where strategic planning comes
longer a top-down, internalized process, today’s
strategic planning process brushes with a broad
stroke and encompasses a variety of perspectives,
models and approaches. Goals-based planning is
the most popular approach. Goals-based strategic
planning offers some striking benefits. By focusing
on the organization’s mission and vision, it offers
a mechanism to establish goals, strategies to
achieve those goals and realistic action plans
– all while ensuring consistency with the company’s
core values. Documenting this provides a basis
from which progress can be measured.
real benefit of strategic planning is in the process
itself, however, and not the resulting documents.
Working through the process ensures that all the
organization’s leaders are “on the same page”
which means that valuable resources are focused
on the same priorities. By establishing the process,
companies can also react quickly and methodically
to changes in the marketplace rather than firing
first and aiming second. Finally, resulting from
direct involvement in the process, strategic planning
may give employees a sense of ownership. Many
times, this leads to more efficiency, effectiveness
and even greater innovation.
how to start the process? Companies typically
have the most success with outside consultants
or facilitators. This is especially true when
the process has not been conducted before or previous
planning was not deemed successful. Despite the
obvious savings of using an internal facilitator,
outside consultants offer objectivity and will
most likely increase, rather than inhibit, open
should be involved and how long will it take?
Assembly of the right team is critical and it
should always include the CEO and Chairman. Some
representation from the other end of the spectrum
is a must as well, so that upper management can
get a better grasp on day-to-day issues and junior
staffers can grasp top-level issues. Most importantly,
those individuals who will actually implement
the plan must be included. The process, itself,
can take several months to complete though numerous
factors can impact it including the size of the
organization and whether the organization has
done this sort of planning before. In general,
it is important to have the meetings fairly close
together to keep the momentum going and, remember,
no plan is perfect so the object is to learn from
the process and not to belabor the process until
the plan is perfect.
and Follow-up. A frequent complaint about strategic
plans is that they produce a document that ends
up on the shelf collecting dust. To succeed, the
support of top management is essential from the
onset. Before the planning process begins, however,
a strategic analysis must be conducted. Conducting
a thorough SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses,
Opportunities and Threats) is a good start. Relying
on what planners perceive about the business environment
they operate in nullifies the entire process.
Finally, realistic and specific action plans must
be established followed by regularly scheduled
aim, fire. Now that sounds better and when it
comes to business, it’s the magic formula. As
skilled strategic planners, we can facilitate
your next strategic planning session. Give us
a call to fire toward your future target.