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Online Financial Courses - Strategic Planning

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Course 4: Strategic Planning

Chapter 2: Organizing the Process

Our first step within strategic planning begins with organizing the process. Before we start to organize the process, we need to make sure the organization is ready for strategic planning. For example, if strategic planning is new to the organization, then we want to proceed slowly. Maybe too much is happening within the organization and thus, strategic planning should be postponed. It is important to recognize that strategic planning works best when:

1. The organization has good management. 2. The organization has good channels of communication. 3. The organization is open to new ideas. 4. The organization is not buried in rules and bureaucracy.

Since there is no "right" process, you have to determine if strategic planning fits within your organization. Is the timing right? Is management committed to the process? Do we have the right mind-set? For example, if the organization is dominated by operating people who think short-term, then you may want to proceed cautiously with strategic planning. You also need to be sold on the benefits of strategic planning. As previously indicated, strategic planning is a process whereby you prepare for the future by looking at your choices.
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Start Organizing

Strategic planning starts by planning for the plan; i.e. we have to outline the process before we begin the process. There are several questions that need to be addressed for organizing the process:

Specifically, organizing the strategic planning process includes the following steps:

1. Determine what is expected and communicate this to everyone who will be involved in developing the Strategic Plan. What issues should the plan address? Obtain a definitive statement from the Chief Executive Officer or President stating what he or she expects out of the Strategic Plan. Circulate an outline to all major participants in the process.

2. Gather preliminary information for the plan, such as the current mission of the organization, major goals in progress, and other plans already implemented. Survey key managers and determine critical issues of the future.

3. Determine the scope of the strategic plan. What is the planning period? Generally, the planning period should cover enough time to shift the direction of the organization towards a desired situation. What is the organizational scope of the plan? Will the plan cover the entire organization or maybe certain divisions or units?

4. Reach consensus from essential participants on how the planning process will work. Also, determine how different stakeholder groups will be involved in the process. Prepare a sequence of steps which will guide the process.

5. Finalize the formation of a planning committee. Who will be involved? Who will manage the process? Assign responsibilities and determine resource requirements.

EXAMPLE 1 - Preliminary Checklist to Organize the Process

1. Based on the concerns of key managers and the possible benefits of strategic planning, we should: ____ Proceed to Develop a Strategic Plan , ____ Go Slow , ___ Not Now, too much going on

2. A Strategic Plan should be developed for: ____ Entire Organization, ____Part of Organization, ____Project, ____Other

3. The planning period will cover: ___ 1 Year / ___ 2 Years / ___ 3 Years / ____Other__

4. The planning process will be directed by: ___Group Leader, ___Planning Committee, ___Consultant, ____Other__________

5. The Strategic Plan will be developed with participation by: (check all that apply): ____Board of Directors / ___Executive Management / ___Key Staff Groups_______________________________________ / ___Key Stakeholder Groups_______________________________________

6. The Strategic Plan is expected to be submitted for approval by: ________________________

The approach used for strategic planning will depend upon the organization and management. If upper-level management has been unsuccessful in the past with strategic planning, then a more bottom-up approach is needed. If the organization is small, then a team approach may work well. Larger organizations tend to favor a more formal process. However, too much formality can lower creative thinking and new ideas. The process should be open and not ritualistic.

The objective of organizing the process is to ensure that you end-up producing a good strategic plan. By staying focused on critical issues and alternatives, good planning will emerge. Do not be afraid to use some judgements and move quickly. A drawn-out process can wander and become outdated by a rapidly changing environment.

EXAMPLE 2 - Napa Distributors Inc - Outline for Strategic Planning

1. Select a steering committee to direct the strategic planning process.
2. Select an outside consultant to assist with the process.
3. Get agreement on the planning steps, responsibilities, timeline, etc. Review agreement with Board of Directors.
4. Gather information from key management personnel on strength's, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and critical issues.
5. Summarize current plans and mission. Review past successes and failures for last three years.
6. Review history with committee and board members. Determine recent progress and status.
7. Summarize prior meetings and draft a basic plan.
8. Review draft plan with focus groups, board, and key management personnel. Make revisions and finalize a complete strategic plan.
9. Final review by various groups.
10. Obtain approval of Strategic Plan.
11. Implement the Strategic Plan.
12. Review progress after six months and revise plan.

Finally, recognize that each organization is different and the planning process will vary. Start simple and match the capabilities of the organization with a process that is workable. The first step for three different companies is illustrated below:

Excaliber Corporation - Determine what kind of company we want to be - the company has not changed in over ten years.

PPC Software - Outline the basic tasks for a strategic plan and the desired results. Allow the process to flow from this outline.

Alliston Trucking Company - Initiate a learning program for management on strategic planning.
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Chapter 1: Preliminary Considerations
Chapter 2: Organizing the Process
Chapter 3: Assessing the Situation
Chapter 4: Developing the Strategic Plan
Chapter 5: Implementing the Strategic Plan
Chapter 2 points
Start Organizing

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