Businesses big and small are situated at a crossroads of complexity and growth. They seek simple solutions to complex problems, but desiring simplicity is far easier than actually working toward attaining it. So many obstacles clutter the pathway to growth. What worsens the journey over and around those obstacles is the fact that so many companies employ strategies that haven’t been scrutinized or reiterated since the early 1960s.
The history of strategy
To understand how we can use strategy, it’s important to understand where it came from. Strategy, from the Greek στρατηγία or stratēgia, meaning “art of troop leader; office of general, command, generalship,” is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. Greek commanders of old developed strategic plans for successes in battles that would ultimately lead to winning wars. Juxtapose this long-term perspective of action against big tactical maneuvers aimed at winning battles, with no real sight of the war itself, and you begin to understand not only the importance of setting long-term goals but having a solid strategic plan to get you there.
Companies are plagued with this every day worrying about the tactics and losing sight of the war. This is often illustrated by marketing departments getting hung up on which social media network they should be on, losing sight of what message is being conveyed or what value they provide to their customers. Or the incessant daily meetings at a manufacturing line, looking at the same numbers only to react the exact same way they did yesterday.
What is a strategic plan?
Strategic planning is a process developed specifically for an individual or organization to intelligently define their direction. This technique then takes the ideas and turns them into action by allocating resources to follow a direction, outlining steps toward following through with a strategy, and even extending to cover the implementation mechanisms for a developed strategy. For modern businesses, strategic planning is a must. Branding expert Phil Davis says, “A business without clarity is just activity.” A solid strategic plan assists businesses and teams in understanding the process and pathway of development efforts. Moreover, a strategic plan helps align big picture thinking–and more importantly, direction–with daily tasks. To achieve total alignment throughout an organization is to propel it in the right direction, precipitating growth and opportunity.
A strategic plan connects individual efforts and project initiatives to a company’s vision, values, and position in the marketplace–and to the promise it makes to its customers. Simply put, a strategic plan connects the “what” to the “why.” It links actions undertaken by a business to the purpose that rests at its core. Strategic planning helps businesses of all sizes attain their goals and move from ideas to actions.