Strategic Planning: An Evolving Marathon
In today’s competitive enviroment, strategic planning has gained even more prominence. Until 10-15 years ago, strategic planning was only being implemented in large-scale companies. Nowadays, most public institutions, private companies and even non-profit voluntary organizations -regardless of the size- has begun appreciating and showing great interest in strategic planning.
What is “strategic planning”?
It is possible to find countless technical meanings and explanations of strategic planning with the research tool of the era we call Google. However I would prefer to explain it with a simple example:
Companies are like marathoners. They have a particular body structure, a character and culture. And of course a goal that they desire to reach when the day comes… They have a supporting entourage and instructor. For them; healthy nutrition, empowerment and target-oriented work is highly essential. They work with determination to achive greater goals by setting smaller goals on the road. It is vital to be motivated and adapted to new working methods. What I mean is; strategic planning is the marathon itself.
Goal: Getting from one point to another.
Answer: Planning every step!
We say that the goal is “getting from one point to another”. So we might as well walk there… Yes we might, but it would not need planning, would it? And it sure would not be strategic. Because in a competitive world “walking in a marathon” will not win us medals.
There are many tools that support strategic planning. The most important and evenmore the most neccesary one is “determining a vision”. Having a vision is not only important for companies but also for individuals. Vision gives us direction, sheds light on our way and helps us move along on our path. Vision is to say: “I will be the winner of this marathon”.
A company having a vision knows where it’s going. It determines smaller goals within its structure and character which leads the company to its destination. However setting goals alone are not enough. The company should trace its actions leading to its goals with key performance indicators. In other words; what chronometer means to an athlete; is what key performance indicators mean to a company.
Vision: Being the winner.
Goal: Running 100m in 1 minute.
Smaller goal: Running 50m in 30 seconds.
Measure: Keeping track of every performance with chronometer.
The crucial part for a company is to relate its operations to its vision. There is no obstacle for a company to reach its goals when it carries out its daily operations in line with its vision. With creating “right” strategic maps, determining “right” strategic targets and generating “right” key performance indicators provide an extensive comfort in achieving the success level required and allows great convenience and transparency in following of the company performance by the top-management.
Don’t let the word “right” scare you off. Like most things in life, strategic planning is also open to revisions, changes and compensations. As long as you intent to grow, develop and generate innovation; all remaining steps will be taken spontaneously.