Do all businesses need a strategic plan?
The simple answer is yes!
All businesses need a strategic plan; a fact backed up in a recent Forbes article, they argue that ‘most businesses struggle from the outset because they don’t have a plan and despite feeling more motivated and committed than ever. It is important to direct your energy and resources toward the right practices, though without a clear, actionable plan for growth, how can you know what these practices are? Irrespective of size, all businesses need a strategic plan’.
This sentence is the key to what I believe is the fundamental point of strategy, which is often hidden behind the screen of management gurus, demanding reading, and complicated models. We all have limited resources, we all face internal and external limitations, we all have a limited motivation, either in ourselves or in our team. Imagine if those limited resources, energies and motivations were squandered on irrelevant and meaningless activities that did not contribute to the business’s success.
It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 organisation balancing billions of dollars, or a trading house, balancing tens of dollars, wasted effort is wasted effort. The key to strategy is knowing what efforts create waste and what efforts create value. If you are a large organisation, you will invariably need to use the models and utilise the models for your organisation. Learn the lessons of key authorities and undertake significant strategic study, maybe even create a strategic team. But if you are a smaller organisation, you still need to know what effort is waste, you still need to understand what squanders your critical resources, and you need to know what you are good at, what your key resources are, and what work that you do adds value.
Is strategy just for senior managers?
So now we understand that we need a strategy to ensure that we don’t create waste, including time and effort. But if only our senior managers understand what activities are creating this waste, how can we possibly control it? How can our people possibly know what creates value and what creates waste?
Or, to put it another way, how can our people know that their work is aligned with the business direction unless we involve them in the strategic plan?
By involving our people in designing our strategic plan, we involve them in the business, demonstrate to them that their involvement is of value, and create an environment whereby everyone in the business understands the business and wants to contribute to its success. Daniel Pink suggests that intrinsic motivation is based around Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
By sharing a strategic plan, a manager can leave his people alone as they know what is required (Autonomy), they will perform the job to the best level achievable (Mastery), because they know what they are doing it, what the outcomes will be, and their role within the organisation (Purpose).
Strategy is for everyone.
Strategy is not just for large, multi-national corporations; it is for everyone involved in a business, be that an airline or a corner shop. The strategy need not be complicated, need not be dressed in management buzzwords, is not something only conducted by MBAs, and is not something that only involves managers. However, it does take a little time, a little effort, and it can be as complex as you want it to be. But irrespective of the size of the strategy planning exercise or the size of the company, the results will enhance any organisation and add value.
Give it a go! You will be amazed at the results you can achieve.
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