The Wall Street Journal published an article last month focusing on trends in strategic planning that suggested the tactic is losing favor among today’s executives, who are opting for a more flexible approach to deal with the ever-fluctuating economy.
So, are we witnessing the death of strategic planning? Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Businesses and professionals that effectively use strategic planning to help achieve their future vision and long-term goals are constantly revisiting their plans – quarterly, monthly, sometimes even weekly – to evaluate their performance in the short term. Strategic plans were never designed to sit on a shelf and collect dust, but instead are a tool by which executives can weigh day-to-day decisions to ensure the business stays on track toward achieving it’s vision for the future.
In any industry, there will be variables that impact business – market fluctuations, shifts in industry, consumer perception, crisis situations – but planning for these changes and weighing the organization’s reaction to these variables against a solid strategic plan will help the business come out of volatile times even stronger.
For a blessing-in-disguise view on the situation, one could argue that the panic, which is causing businesses to focus on being flexible and shift to accommodate marketplace changes, is actually helping these organizations get back to the core purpose of their strategic plans – to provide direction in uncertain times.
So rather than predict demise for strategic planning as we know it, I’d like to think the recently economic uncertainty has actually infused the process with a renewed sense of life. Let’s reserve the feelings of bereavement for those organizations without a strategic plan, as they’ll quickly discover that without direction, you’re going nowhere – fast.