Strategic Planning Paper

Sample essay topic, essay writing: Strategic Planning Paper - 1114 words

The history of strategic planning begins in the military. According to Webster's New World Dictionary, strategy is 'the science of planning and directing large-scale military operations, of maneuvering forces into the most advantageous position prior to actual engagement with the enemy' (Guralnic, 1986). Although our understanding of strategy and applying strategic planning in management has been transformed from a point of military maneuvering to one that aim's to achieve and gives a structured framework to reach a competitive advantage. Taking its name and roots from the military model, early models of formal strategic planning 'reflected the hierarchical values and linear systems of traditional organizations. Undertaken by planning functions at the top of the organization, its structure was highly vertical and time-bound.

A certain period would be set aside to analyze the situation and decide on a course of action. This would result in a formal document. Once this was done, the actual work of implementation, which was considered a separate, discrete process - could begin' (Wall & Wall, 1995). Although individual definitions of strategy vary between each author, traditionally, theorists have considered planning an essential part of organizational strategy. "Strategic planning in organizations originated in the 1950s and was very popular and widespread between mid-1960s to mid-1970s, when people believed it was the answer for all problems, and corporate America was obsessed with strategic planning. Following that boom strategic planning had fallen off and was cast aside for over a decade

The 1990s brought the revival of strategic planning as a process with particular benefits in particular contexts" (Mintzberg, 1994).In Here is a brief account of several generations of strategic planning. " Analysis model dominated strategic planning of the 1950s. The 1960s brought qualitative and quantitative models of strategy. During the early 1980s, the shareholder value model and the Porter model became the standard. The rest of the 1980s was dictated by strategic intent and core competencies, and market-focused organizations. Finally, business transformation became a requirement in the 1990s" (Gouillart, 1995).Newer models of strategic planning were focused on adaptability to change, flexibility, and importance of strategic thinking and organizational learning. 'Strategic agility' is becoming more important that the strategy itself, because organization's need to have the ability to succeed by demonstrating quick adaptability to change and transform itself based on changing climate, continuously.

"Being strategically agile enables organizations to transform their strategy depending on the changes in their environment' (Gouillart, 1995).Entrepreneurs and business managers are often so preoccupied with immediate issues that they lose sight of their ultimate objectives. That's why a business review or preparation of a strategic plan is a necessity. This may not be a recipe for success, but without it a business is much more likely to fail. A sound plan should: Serve as a framework for decisions or for securing support/approval, Provide a basis for more detailed planning, Explain the business to others in order to inform, motivate & involve, assist benchmarking & performance monitoring, Stimulate change and become building blocks for the next plan, and for inspiration. A strategic plan should not be confused with a business plan. The strategic plan is a short document whereas a business plan is usually a much more substantial and detailed document. A strategic plan can provide the foundation and framework for a business plan.

A strategic plan is not the same thing as an operational plan. The strategic plan should be visionary, conceptual and directional in contrast to an operational plan which is likely to be shorter term, tactical, focused, can be implemented and measured. As an example, compare the process of planning a vacation (where, when, duration, budget, who goes, how travel are all strategic issues) with the final preparations (tasks, deadlines, funding, weather, packing, transport and so on are all operational matters). A satisfactory strategic plan must be realistic and attainable so as to allow managers and entrepreneurs to think strategically and act operationally. In creating a strategic plan many organizations or divisions can hit pitfalls if they do not turn the plan into action or use the process of creating the plan as a way to think differently about the business. Some of the negative consequences of planning and not executing are, putting more form than substance into planning process, failing to lay fundamental groundwork concerning the nature of the business, the industry, and the key requirements for success, not developing a sufficient fact base to support identification of the most appealing strategic alternatives, not involving all the 'key players', not paying enough attention to dissenting opinions or 'crazy' ideas, 'Analysis paralysis" the goal of the plan is to be used as a driving force and pull the team together on common initiatives, Treating strategic planning as an event rather than an ongoing process, Failing to develop action plans at an operational level, Failing to integrate the strategic planning process with other management systems. Strategic planning offers a number of potential benefits to organizations interested in thinking critically about their future and who are willing to devote the time and effort needed to initiate and sustain an on-going planning process. Experience has shown that strategic planning can provide a useful framework for making policy-level decisions and designing effective techniques to implement those decisions.

The process of aligning an organization with its environment through a focused, systematic effort can produce both immediate and long-term positive impacts that can include better decision making, improved communications, unity of purpose, and, most importantly, increased organizational effectiveness. Strategic planning is an action-oriented process that features strong implementation and benchmarking elements. It allows an organization to establish a long-range, overall perspective, to identify strategic issues, and to develop shorter-term goals, objectives, and action steps to address identified issues. However, having noted some of the benefits that strategic planning can produce, it is important to note that it is not a cure-all. Strategic planning is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that is not for every organization. It is simply a tool that can be used to help a committed entity work toward becoming more effective.

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