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Strategic Planning and How to Use it to Stay Ahead of the Game

The pace of change in technology, media and competitive environments, has seen organisations become more nimble and agile to adapt more quickly and stay ahead of the curve. Without a strategic plan in place, it's easy for an organisation to stray from smashing its goals to finding itself in a world of chaos.

One minute the organisation has a great culture and is growing exponentially, the next a piece of newly introduced legislation, taxation laws, loss of a pivotal staff member or team, can change the landscape overnight, and organisations need to be able to mitigate the risk of being overwhelmed by the fast paces changes. That's where having a dedicated long-term strategic plan comes into play.

Strategic planning involves a comprehensive process of assessing your current situation sometimes called a situational audit, setting goals, and creating a roadmap to help achieve those goals. By carefully analysing internal and external factors and considering possible options, organisations are able to set realistic goals and determine the best courses of action needed to achieve them.   And the importance of this, is to create a blueprint “in the event of…” thinking ahead of the current situation and being able to answer the question “If this happens - what will happen to us?”

With a well-developed strategic plan in place and more importantly, being managed and implemented effectively, companies maximise their chances of succeeding in the long run.

The Strategic Planning Process

A strong strategic plan follows three basic steps.

1. Strategic Analysis

This first step involves evaluating the current situation and environment of the organisation. It involves assessing internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). Depending on your type of organisation, this is done using a variety of methods and data, such as surveys, customer feedback, market and competitive analysis, research into the industry, political trends and developments and financial analysis.

2. Strategic Formulation

In this step, the information gathered in the first step is used to create a vision, mission and objectives. These serve as the foundation of strategy. The goals and strategies should reflect the organisation's core competencies, emphasise its strengths and address weaknesses and external threats.

3. Strategic Implementation and Evaluation

This final step involves putting the plan into action. This includes establishing an implementation strategy and timeline, allocating resources, and monitoring results. It is essential that this is communicated across the organisation so everyone works towards common goals.

The Advantages of being proactive with blue-sky thinking

If your company is in reactive mode, you are essentially only fixing short-term problems, and letting whatever is happening internally in the business drive the outcomes and strategy. For some seasons in a business, this can be OK to turn around a situation that may have cropped up and needs to be dealt with immediately.  As long as the company doesn’t stay stuck in this mode.  Blue sky thinking is where the company looks outside to what is possible.  New ideas and innovations.

To be able to step out from behind the day-to-day operational stressors, with dedicated time spent on future purpose-driven strategic planning allows you to focus on long-term goals for growth and sustainability. 

Proactivity and blue-sky thinking lead to:

Improved Decision Making

By being proactive allows the company to anticipate potential problems ahead of time, plan for the future, and adjust your strategies in the present accordingly. This helps you to make better decisions and respond quickly to changing circumstances, as sometimes the changes may need to be drastic shifts in products, services or delivery.

Increased Efficiency

Proactive planning is an essential part of streamlining operations and maximising resources. It helps organisations allocate resources optimally and reduce waste or duplication.

Higher Customer Satisfaction

It's easy to forget where your organisation is going, with customer demand pulling in a particular direction.  Through proactive strategic planning, organisations can identify and address customer needs promptly, leading to improved customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Reduced Operational Risk

By identifying potential risks in advance, a company can create solutions that mitigate or even eliminate these risks.  This will save any downtime, or loss of revenue should a risk eventuate into an event that wasn’t foreseen.  

Competitive Advantage

Proactive planning with an element of thinking outside the box and a commitment to the “next thing” helps organisations stay ahead of the curve.

Donna Bates Strategic Planning Consultant 

Being proactive, innovative and agile are essential elements for an organisation in an era of constant change, and this is where Donna Bates can help.  She can walk with you through your Strategic journey, with as much or little support as you need.  It may be assistance in formulating a strategic plan using industry-appropriate strategic models and tools, to implementing the plan for your specific business, assisting in evaluating the results or supporting your leadership team to get the very best out of your organisation.

If you’d like a confidential conversation regarding your organisation, simply reach out and start a conversation to build an agile organisation putting your strategic plan into immediate action. 

Donna Bates

Donna is a Strategic Planning Consultant, whose talents have been refined over 25+ year corporate career.

She is an Award-winning, Business & Marketing Growth Strategist who specialises in consulting with company's going through growth, change & upheaval.

Being a “legacy leader” she has mentored talented people across a wide spectrum of industries globally, helping them to grow & pivot their businesses, to stay relevant & profitable.

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