What is strategic planning? To find the answer, we need to know where it came from and what it can accomplish.
Businesses big and small sit at the crossroads of complexity and growth. They want simple solutions for complex problems, but desiring simplicity is easier than actually attaining it. So many obstacles clutter the pathway to success. But why, on top of all those obstacles, do some companies choose to also employ strategies that haven’t been updated since the 60s? This only serves to further clutter the pathway to growth. When all of the tools in the belt are rusty, it’s time for a new tool. But first, let’s answer a pressing question: what is strategic planning?
The History of Strategy.
To understand how to better use strategy, we should know where the word came from. “Strategy” comes from the Greek στρατηγία, or stratēgia, meaning “art of troop leader; office of general, command, generalship.” Modern definitions refer to a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. Ancient Greek commanders developed strategic plans for success in battles that ultimately led to winning wars. Compare that to big tactical maneuvers aimed at just winning battles, and you begin to understand the importance of setting long-term goals. And, of course, the importance of having a solid strategic plan to get you there.
Losing Sight of the Bigger Picture.
Companies suffer from self-inflicted worry. They fret over small tactics and lose sight of the bigger war. It’s common for marketing department teams to get hung up on things like which social media networks they should use. The message that’s supposed to be conveyed to customers through these platforms starts to get lost. Failing to focus on keeping the business-to-customer relationship in good standing results in leads drying up. Opportunities disappear.
So what is strategic planning?
Strategic planning is the process of intelligently defining the direction of a company. All businesses, from owner-operated small companies to large corporations, can benefit from having a strategic plan. A solid plan will set up and follow specific steps to turn ideas into action. The aim is always to reach achievable goals.
For modern businesses, strategic planning is a must. Says branding expert Phil Davis, “A business without clarity is just activity.” Solid strategic plans assist businesses and teams in understanding the processes and pathway of development efforts. Also, and more importantly, strategic plans align big-picture thinking with smaller daily tasks. Ultimately, achieving total alignment throughout an organization is to propel it in the right direction.
A strategic plan connects individual efforts and project initiatives to a company’s vision, values, marketplace position, and the promise made to customers. Put simply, it connects the “what” to the “why” and links actions to purpose. Strategic planning helps businesses of all sizes realize, actualize, and attain their goals.