One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to look out over the horizon and detect threats and opportunities, and then translate the vision into action for the organization. This is the essence of strategic planning, and stands in firm opposition to the ‘hope and pray’ school of thought, which is to let competitors and exogenous variables dictate your future, and hope for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to solve your problems. Trust me, clicking your heels three times isn’t likely to yield a winning strategy! 🙂
Strategic planning outlines the handful of choices that drive the subsequent decisions and actions of the company, and which have the greatest impact on whether objectives will be achieved. Let me start with a definition of strategy, so we’re all on the same page.
Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term towards achieving its objectives; which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholder expectations.
That’s a mouthful – so let’s break it down into the specific questions that strategic planning answers-