Yes but…why should every company have a strategic plan?

Here’s what we know.

We know that the pace of change seems to be accelerating.

We know that competitors arrive on the scene very rapidly (and often disappear as fast).

The question then is: “Given the complexities of the marketplace and the speed of change, how can one write a meaningful strategic and tactical plan? Why should one write a plan, given these circumstances?”

To be candid, it is exactly for these reasons a strategic plan is a must.

First, in today’s environment it is very easy to be seduced by opportunities. A strategic and tactical plan helps to retain focus and makes it easier to decide what is in and what is out, what to pursue and what not to pursue. The strategic portion places boundaries on what opportunities are appropriate to pursue and the tactical portion focuses on the important tasks that will result in the achievement of strategic goals.

Second, the process of writing these plans allows inconsistencies, gaps, unknowns and implausibility to be determined and, in the process, builds agreement and alignment among the key professionals on the strategy, disseminates information about it, and builds enthusiasm for achieving its goals.

Here’s a quick list of the benefits that a well-conceived plan will provide:

  • An anchor: A strategic plan provides a means for measuring progress and incorporating changes as a company’s goals shift over time
  • A look to the future: It forces leadership to look ahead. It’s natural to assume that the future will be an extension of the past, probably the recent past. With markets changing as rapidly as they are, a forward-looking approach is imperative.
  • An understanding of consequences and trade-offs: To achieve a goal or objective may require years of effort. Knowing what steps must be taken and the consequences of skipping or eliminating a step help leadership to stay on course and avoid a seductive opportunity that would compromise an important goal.
  • A focus on key marketing issues: The plan provides a framework for getting at the big picture, those things that really matter and on which we should concentrate our energies. With a plan, there is alignment as everyone is working on the key goals and understands the implications of being effective at implementing them. Everyone is watching the important measures. The result is clear and laser-like focus throughout the organization.
  • A timetable: A strategic plan leads to an implementation timetable. This assures that management doesn’t drift away from the plan’s goals into the immediate concerns of day-to-day business. When people know that tasks and goals have to be completed by certain dates, they tend to stay focused on the key issues.
  • Management: An organization’s leaders can manage the organization from a well-written strategic and tactical plan. After all, it contains all the key tactics and the underlying reasons why they are so important.
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