Unless responsibilities are clearly defined and assigned, it is not possible to accomplish any task in business or organizations. Without responsibilities, people in business or organizations would not be able to establish goals for themselves and without such goals; business or organizations would come to a standstill. The strategic planner has certain responsibilities that have to be clearly understood. What are the primary task that he should perform? How does it contribute to business or organizations?
The Strategic Planner Conceptualizes
The fundamental resource of the strategic planner is thinking. He is there to think, not about anything else but the future of the business or organization. His thinking should be a kind of thinking that is solely focused on the business or organization. This kind of dedication hones the skill of the strategic planner in his craft. The more his focus is on the business or organization, the more his mind becomes razor sharp and sensitive to the erstwhile indistinguishable behavior of business or organizations.
The strategic planner starts with thinking and conceptualizing the planning process. What is the business terrain? What sort of information do I need to generate advantage? Who is the competition? What are their strengths and their weaknesses? How do they wage war? Do they follow the rules or do they practice guerilla tactics? These are the kind of questions that aid conceptualization.
In uncertain times such as today, asking the right questions produces a strategic advantage. When you ask the right questions, it will necessitate the search for the right answer. You ask the wrong question and you will surely get the wrong answers, answers that may be of little value to the business or organization you are in. But asking the right questions brings you to a totally different level, a level where you have that confidence that you have made the right thing and the answers will be there in time.
The conceptualized plan would be of little value to the strategic planner if he keeps it to himself and starts the planning process alone. Conceptualization has to be translated and transmitted to other planners in the business or organization. In this manner, the power of mental alignment and mental disparity will be harnessed, elevating the strategic plan to a new status. This new status is excellence, a far cry from mediocrity that is normally a result of plans done by lone individuals.
The Strategic Planner Generates
Another crucial responsibility of the strategic planner is generation. Conceptualization should somehow result in something, that something is generation. Conceptualization and the thinking process should generate into something concrete, which then can be the basis of an assessment to move on or the judgment to repeat the conceptualization. The concrete thing might be something obvious or something obscure.
The obvious can be the mundane, everyday office routines: answering inquiries, taking sales orders, reading and replying to the emails, and so on. It can also be someone obscure: a new but insignificant player in your industry, the President of your top customer playing golf with the President of your toughest competitor. These are a mix of old tasks and new tasks. How do you take the boredom out of routines? How do you confront that President in the most civil manner?
The strategic planner must generate new ways to perform difficult tasks. This is the consequence of the thinking process. Task upon task will demand to be performed; work upon work will be in the picture. But how can it be performed efficiently and excellently? New ways have to be designed to perform them. As one person says it, there are many roads leading to the same destination. Difficult tasks have to be simplified in order to make them less time consuming and to maximize the results. Difficult tasks have to be shortened in order to gain and accumulate advantages of time. Difficult tasks have to segregate in order that the parts will contribute to a bigger whole.
The Strategic Planner Serves
Not only does the strategic planner conceptualize and generate, his vital responsibility also involves service. Business or organizations that are structured in a manner where everyone is chief, will be doomed the first day it is organized. People in business or organizations are there to serve each other whether directly or indirectly. Everyone needs every else in business or organizations. Even the most insignificant office position, if there is such a classification, is a great help to top management.
The strategic planner is to serve the other members of business or organization, primarily as the adviser. Having done the thinking process and having seen the mental picture in its entirety, he can now give accurate advice to company executives who are involved in the planning process in the various groups in business or organizations. This service in an advisory capacity is crucial to minimize deviations and channel everyone’s energy towards the big picture. Deviations can delay if not altogether allow competition to move on ahead in the race.
Whenever company executive share the results of their individual thinking process, the strategic planner should be quick to express his opinions. Not withstanding their reactions, the planner must express and explain the why and what. He should express and explain why his view are dissimilar and what should be done to be able to come up with a plan that will contribute the big picture that business or organization has painted for its future. This allows company executives doing individual thinking processes to make the necessary mental adjustments to their plans.
The Strategic Planner Evaluates
Far from being finished, another vital responsibility is still there for the strategic planner, that of evaluating. Evaluation is there as a flag to the strategic planning process. It decides whether the process has to be repeated altogether or if certain areas in the process can be revised or readjusted. It is just the way it should be, otherwise if plans are implemented without them having an in depth evaluation, these plans may not contribute or may contribute insignificantly to the big picture of business or organizations.
The strategic planner must come up with an evaluation criterion, an evaluation system for other plans in business or organization. A typical business or organization might have different plans: a management plan, a marketing plan and a distribution plan, an advertising plan, a production plan, a systems and recovery plan. These plans have to be evaluated in its totality, whether these plans can really make the expected contribution to the big picture.
Part of the evaluation responsibility is integration. The strategic planner not only makes an evaluation based on the future, that the various plans or company executives make the expected contribution to the big picture. He also has to base his evaluation on some important present day considerations, that of integration. Can these parts, different as they may be and loose as they may be, fit in snugly today? This is a question that may generate a host of answers. Notwithstanding all these, hard and creative thinking coupled by hard efficient labor would always amount to something. In this scenario, a well-integrated plan that can be implemented will bring the business or company to its future big picture