Strategic Planning

Strategic planning provides a framework for deciding where your company wants to be 5, 10 or even 15 years from now, and how you plan to get there.

Inherent in this process is the establishment of a company's core ideology. In the best-selling book "Built to Last", authors James Collins and Jerry Porras present a two-part definition of core ideology:

Core Ideology = Core Values + Purpose

Core Values: A company's essential guiding principles; not to be confused with cultural or operating practices and not to be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.

Purpose: A company's fundamental reasons for existence beyond just making money - a guiding light on the horizon; not to be confused with specific goals or business strategies.

It is the authors' view (and ours as well) that companies that are "Built to Last" have a strong core ideology that never changes, yet changes in all other areas in order to improve organizational performance is not only promoted but expected.

Has your company produced a well defined strategic plan complete with a core ideology? Does your company preserve its core ideology yet stimulate progress in all other facets of the organization?

Pitfalls to a Successful Strategic Planning Process

If the process is flawed, the results will be as well. Some of the more common mistakes organizations make while formulating their strategic plan include:

1. Lack of Time. It is our view that not enough time is spent in this area. Managers are too busy managing the day to day operations and don't have the time to think about five years from now, even though this may be the single most important thing a manager can do in order to ensure the long term success of the company.

2. Lack of Support from Senior Management. When time is spent, it is often done on a piecemeal basis with marginal input or support of the senior management team. Without full management support, any planning process is destined to fail.

3. Lack of Employee Buy-In to the Process and Plan. If a plan is supported by senior management but is imposed upon the company's employees without their input or participation, it will be viewed as another "flavour of the month" management directive that will be replaced in time with something else.

4. Lack of Customer Involvement in the Process. Most companies rarely consider involving their customers in the strategic planning process yet customers are the main reason for their existence. Who better to engage in the process and bounce ideas off than a key customer?

Customer Value Propositions, Critical Success Factors, Unique Selling Propositions - What do they all mean?

These terms are interchangeable and all mean the same thing:

• What separates you from your competition?

• What is the one (or two) thing(s) your company does better than anyone else in your industry? Is it exceptional customer service? Superior product quality? Outstanding service delivery?

Your company's critical success factors should be a clear result of a well executed strategic planning process. Employees should know it, believe it and embrace it. Customers should know it and believe it as well.

But the process itself won't ensure this occurs. Internal processes and procedures should all be designed with the company's core ideology and critical success factors in mind. Employees should be compensated and rewarded on how well they adhere to these tenets. Without the processes to ensure behaviour complies with the core ideology, the entire planning process is destined to fail.

Aries Advisory Group can assist you with this process, helping you to build a strategic plan that will last. Click here to find out how.