The Importance of Quality Strategic Planning in Leadership
Strategic planning can be a challenging task for some organizations. A lack of confidence in the facts and an inability to cause and effect a situation can make the process even more difficult. To ensure the success of an organization, it’s essential to understand the basics of strategic planning. Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting the process.
First, it’s crucial to understand the concept of “manage by fact and with a knowledge of variation.” Leaders often resist change due to a belief that a unique problem exists that will obstruct change. However, this is often not the case, and being able to recognize this can help in the strategic planning process.
In the process of quality strategic planning, it’s important to distinguish between controlled and uncontrolled variations. Controlled variations are predictable variations within a well-established process, while uncontrolled variations are variations outside the process and are often unpredictable. A simple example of this can be seen at a gas station. The gas station can predict with reasonable certainty that they will sell more gas over a busy holiday and may need to refill their tanks before or after the holiday. That is a controlled variation. On the other hand, an uncontrolled variation could be a meteor that strikes the tanks and blows up the gas station, which is nearly impossible to plan for.
To manage by fact and with a knowledge of variation, leaders should collect data about the work being performed and use it to make informed decisions about the work while considering the identified variations. Focusing more on controlled variations and less on uncontrolled ones will help in the planning process.
Quality strategic planning differs from traditional strategic planning in several ways, the most significant being that quality strategic planning is more defined and based on actual data and process results. In contrast, traditional strategic planning is more about broad ideas and undefined direction. Quality strategic planning is like a precision-guided Hellfire II lightweight anti-tank weapon compared to traditional strategic planning, which is like a Matchlock Musket.
A well-formed strategic plan is crucial for an effective organization. A strategic plan considers the company’s vision and mission and acts as a decision-making roadmap. It defines the organization’s purpose, improves resource utilization, establishes the organization’s direction, and supports customer satisfaction. It also acts as a reminder and guide, and when written well, is owned by everyone in the organization.
Formulating a strategic plan is not easy, and it’s not necessary for every organization. However, it’s likely necessary for most. Before creating a strategic plan, an organization should know its strengths and weaknesses, customer information, economic environment, competition, government information, and technological environment, among other things.
In addition to the above information, it’s also essential to consider vision, mission, critical success factors, goals, objectives, indicators, and contingency plans when formulating a strategic plan. This list is geared towards the ultimate goal, whereas the first focuses more on the present. Maintaining a focus on the long-term vision is crucial in leadership, and the second list ensures that this focus is maintained.
Quality strategic planning is essential for the success of an organization. It defines the organization’s purpose, improves resource utilization, establishes the organization’s direction, and supports customer satisfaction. A well-formed strategic plan is a roadmap for decision-making and, when written well, is owned by everyone in the organization. Remembering the basics of strategic planning, such as managing by fact and with a knowledge of variation, and considering both controlled and uncontrolled variations, will ensure the organization’s success.
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