Business is either in constant flux, or it's no longer in business.
- Looks at the chain of cause and effect
- Sets organizational aims
- Defines strategies, policies and procedures
- Develops detailed plans to ensure implementation
It is a process of deciding in advance what you are going to do, who is going to do it, why you are doing it, how you are doing it and when and in what order it will be done.
Use Strategic Planning/Thinking to take an introspective, honest look at your company. To determine what business you are really in and whether it is the right business to be in. To identify where you want to take the company and what you will have to do to get it there. To identify who you are as a company. What are the company's true values and what is its culture. Strategic thinking is a means for the leadership of the company to extract itself from the subjective state of crisis management and take a step back to objectively assess where the company is now and where it needs to be. It allows the company's "brain trust" to take a time out. To breath long enough to create a desired future state, identify ways to make it happen (a strategic plan), determine who will make them happen by when, and anticipate the consequences (good or bad) of your decisions through "what if" scenarios.
Strategic thinking permits the top management of the company to look at the enterprise as a whole and the inter-relationships of the parts. As a result of strategic planning, a company realizes the futility of independent, vertical departments with each fighting to protect its own fiefdom. Rather, it becomes an eye opener for department heads to realize how much more effective they can be and how much more can be accomplished through horizontal interdependence. That by working interdependently with each department instead of independently of one another, they really can achieve the common goals that were established in the overall strategic plan. It is a coordination of the inter-related parts of the organization making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. By then implementing a top-down/bottom-up alignment of objectives, the entire company can understand what you are trying to accomplish, resulting in their involvement and buy-in. The result of which is usually a more productive workforce, increased operating efficiencies, greater retention of your more profitable customers, and a consistent revenue stream.
Unity, Focus, Direction and Understanding. Everyone pulling on the same rope in the same direction. A company with involved, informed and inspired employees who understand how they contribute to the goals of the company. What is expected of them, how they will fit into the company's culture and how far they can or cannot go in their actions and the decisions they make. Lower employee turnover, happier, more loyal customers and stockholders, and a continuous stream of revenue.
No company can rely on taking care of today to ensure a bright tomorrow. It's a sure ticket to extinction. Considering the longest most companies survive is 40 years, one gets a real appreciation for those 100+ year old companies that are still around today. Companies such as General Electric which has reinvented itself and changed its culture time and time again as a result of continuous improvement and strategic planning. The length of commitment is up to you. Should your overall plan be "build to flip" then that is your plan. Should you decide you are in it for the long haul and expect to be around for awhile, then your commitment needs to be longer. The caveat is that once you have done strategic planning, your commitment is not so much to the plan, as it is to the planning process. Plans fail and things change to cause them to fail, or force them to be changed. The planning process never fails. Abandoning it however, will have its consequences. The key to success for any company is to inform, involve and inspire its people which is what strategic planning and alignment of objectives is all about. With the genie out of the bottle, it is near impossible to get it back in.