Applied Strategic Planning

Applied Strategic Planning includes:

 

• Identifying consultants and key internal players.

• Garnering CEO support, identifying stakeholders, and setting planning goals.

• Scanning organizational values, philosophy, and culture.

• (Re)defining the organization’s mission statement.

• Identifying new futures and new venture opportunities.

• Auditing threats, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses.

• Identifying critical gaps between where the organization is and its future.

• Selecting strategies to expand or retrench as a means to close performance gaps.

• Implementing the strategies to acquire or divest.

• Monitoring actions, updating conditions, and restarting the cycle. Although our approach to strategic planning
and our model share many characteristics with other models that are built on best practices in organizational
change, we differ in a number of important ways.

First and fundamental to our approach to Applied Strategic Planning is that it is “the process by which the guiding members of an organization” actually work together to create the plan themselves.

One of those implications, which we see as a second difference, is the importance of learning how to think strategically.

Strategic thinking will be essential for the members of the planning group if their work is to be successful. Since most managers spend most of their time and energy putting out brush fires— operating tactically or short – term— they often have little training or experience in thinking or acting strategically. Their working lives consists of constantly solving a myriad of crises — human resources problems, customer complaints, equipment failures, inventory shortages — with little time to consider the future direction of the business or how to plan for that future. Thus, we have learned that some reorientation and training about thinking strategically — the critical skill that underlies and serves as the foundation of strategic planning — is required.

In addition to these two key differences in approach are a third difference in approach and two noteworthy elements of the model itself that warrant special attention.

The third difference in approach is our continual emphasis on the immediate application of any findings that emerge from the planning process to the organization’ s operations, rather than waiting for a final plan to be adopted.

Two differences from typical planning processes are so important that we have built them into our model.

One is the emphasis we place on identifying and clarifying the personal and organizational values and the resultant organizational culture as the basis for all organizational decision making. A second is the importance of creative envisioning of the desired future state.

It is important to recognize that the Applied Strategic Planning process is one of moving in specific steps from the vague and abstract to the specific and concrete. The process takes the planning group from an inchoate statement of a desired future to a series of specific actions with targeted outcomes and specific milestones through a process of successive approximations.

The Applied Strategic Planning model consists of nine sequential steps and two continuous ones — environmental monitoring (input, or managing information from outside the organization) and application considerations (output, or acting promptly on that input). This brief overview will serve to orient you to the model.