If strategic planning is conducted poorly it is nothing more than a game of politics where managers try to look smart or do what they can to ensure their organizations are protected. Sound familiar? This type of an exercise should be called "political positioning" as opposed to "strategic planning." Instead of bringing people together towards a compelling vision, it creates discord and points the organization in the direction of failure.Strategic planning has a multitude of benefits to organizations. These benefits are essentially operations-related and people-related and come from simply having a plan and working together to establish and achieve common goals. In this series of five posts, we'll consider some of the major operations-related benefits first (parts 1 to 4), and end with the major people-related benefits (part 5). I have attempted to organize the series in some meaningful way, beginning with the broad benefits, then moving into specific operational benefits, and ending with people benefits.
The people who are parties to an organization can all benefit from strategic planning in tangible ways. This includes those who are directly involved such as leaders and employees, and those who are indirectly involved such as customers and clients, and partners, suppliers, investors, and funders. Discussing the people-related benefits of the planning process is rather tricky because many of the benefits are not orthogonal. In practice, this is not a bad thing because advantages in one area will typically mean advantages in other areas.Strategic planning will save you time, get you and your management team focused, and provide a road map to reach your business and personal visions. In any business activity, one looks for benefits. This is especially true in the case of strategic planning and the benefits derived from that process that will flow to your business or organization.Priority number one is clearly established. This ensures the most effective use of the organization's resources and it provides a framework for decision making throughout the organization. Example: Effervescence To illustrate these points, imagine an organization whose mission is to deliver soft drinks with the longest-lasting fizz in the most artistic bottles. Let's call them Effervescence. Effervescence may find that they are never wanting for artistic designs, but problems with fizzy-ness have recently come to bear that should have been caught months ago.
The Action Plan. A strategic plan involves generating an Action Plan that specifies the actions required for an organization to achieve its goals, and operationalizes its progress toward those goals. Throughout each year progress is tracked, helping the organization assess its achievements in an organized manner and keeping it on track. For example, an organization may wish to increase their public profile. They may set a goal to increase their coverage in the local newspapers by 30% in the first year. Activities around this goal are specified such as forming a PR Committee or designating an individual with this role.