A Strategic plan is a basic tool for business or organization. It is what gives it a written and concrete expression of its basic direction. It answers the basic question of the business or organizational direction, What do we want to be in the future? How do we hope to occupy that position in the future? An absence of a strategic plan, an indispensable tool for business or organizational success, may have negative repercussions that may well hang on to the future.
Plan to Plan
Since perfection is a character that is absent in all strategic plans, how can strategic planners improve on their plans? They should plan in order to plan again. This paradoxical statement states that when you plan, you have to keep in mind that it is bound for obsolescence and that you are directed, out of necessity to make a new plan. This kind of mindset allows the strategic planner to be uncomfortable and to resist the urge of complacency. This kind of mindset also allows the strategic planner to be constantly on the lookout for improvement.
Many strategic plans have experienced initial brushes with success but then that is all there is to it. Strategic plans that have sustained successes are those plans that have been destroyed and abandoned before it has reached its apex and a new and different plan formulated to take its place. This is a rather radical argument with strategic plan improvement, but in a rapidly changing market place, this makes sense. A blank sheet of paper is all that is needed for improvement, set aside the old things that have been pass and start with the new things.
Plan to Focus on the Fundamentals
A major blunder of the strategic planner in business and organizations is to adapt quickly to new management and strategic planning concepts and ideas. This is expected behavior because new management and strategic planning concepts and ideas are like new tools to the strategic planner and it is just novel. But planners have to remind themselves that there are things that are foundational to the strategic plan, things that are fundamental to the strategic plan that if it is left out, success then becomes an illusion.
The foundation of strategic planning is people. Not just anyone but people in the organization who have the mental gift that can be utilized for a very specific purpose: to alter business or organizational strength, so much that it can be used against the competition in the most efficient manner conceivable. These people may or may not be difficult to find, the important thing is to find them and use them as the foundation of the strategic planning process.
Since strategic planning is founded in people, the strategic planner and his staff should make that commitment for self-evaluation. Do we qualify to be the foundations of the strategic planning team? If the answer is in the negative, wisdom dictates that a quick search be made within and outside the organization. The right people, those called upon to be the foundation of the planning process have the uncanny ability to discern what to include and what to exclude in the strategic plan.
These are things that may be difficult to duplicate by the wrong people. The right people also blend right in to a common core; they may look differently, they may live differently and they may think differently but they have a common core: the right direction for the business or organization.
Plan to Encourage Experimentation
When things go well, complacency is just right at the corner. The tendency to relax, the tendency to be contended and the tendency to be complacent is not exclusive to line workers and employees, it can infect and will infect the strategic planning people. If business or organizations desire to improve on their strategic plans, experimentation should be encouraged.
It is the kind of experimentation that should contribute to the strategic plan improvement. Though some experiments may not be related on first glance, if it contributes to the strategic plan then give the thumbs up sign.
Areas of experimentation that may be worthwhile are these: how to increase relative superiority or how to design aggressive initiatives or how to exploit degrees of freedom or how to create innovations. These areas are so rich that business or organizations cannot exhaust the kind of experimentation that the strategic planners may be able to perform.
How does one experiment let us say, on an increase in relative superiority? One reviews the same industry, the industry players and the industry arena and start the experiment. For illustration purposes: supposed you are tasked to do the experiment. Your product, a luxury car, is renowned worldwide for quality, safety and excellent product design. However, the same product is not so well known in a certain part of Asia and you are to do an experiment to increase relative superiority. This scenario will improve your strategic plan; experimentation has a way of keeping us on our toes.
The experiment should somehow proceed like this. After getting what the end-users want you start your experiment and you found out that there is a very insignificant number who can afford your product but having identified their needs you contribute the following to the strategic plan. Asian market X equates price for safety which our product can provide but it is not only road safety that they require they require personal safety. Recommending car models with personal safety features, like bullet resistant glass and light armor plates. Increased relative superiority has just been accomplished through experimentation.
Plan to Look Ahead farther than the Conventional
To improve on your strategic plan, the plan has to look ahead much farther than the conventional standards of forecasting. If the conventional standard is 10 years ahead, one might as well look 20 years ahead or even more. The truth of the matter is that in a rapidly changing and mutating business environment, business or organizations have no choice but to anticipate the future.
Anticipating the future is by no means an easy task. Mistakes will abound and experiment upon experiment will have to be made many times over. Sometimes the results might be rewarding; sometimes it might be disappointing. But planning ahead farther than the rest is better than planning like all the rest. He who plans further will certainly discover something that others are not bound to notice.
There will be unique events or unique driving forces that you will meet as you look ahead farther than the conventional. This is an area that purposely adds improvement to the strategic plan. Looking further than the conventional also allows the strategic planner to hone the skill of futurism, the art of looking at the future.
One classic example of those who looked ahead further than the conventional, are the business and organizations, who were able to understand the future power of the global teenager. Years ago, the teen population was not a driving force in marketing. But those who looked further ahead saw that the teenager could possess something powerful in the future: expendable money. As more families prospered so did the expendable money they are giving their teens. Today, it is the teens that are buying all those home entertainment games, music and video products; they are even reputed to be the biggest sales contributor to the music and entertainment industry. Improving your strategic plan does not sound easy after all, but it can be done.