Organizations are structures. And structures are specifically designed to satisfy certain minimum provisions. Within these structures are forms and forms have to satisfy conventional specifications and requirements These specification and requirements, management thinkers believe are embodied in the following: clarity, economy, direction of vision, understanding of the individual, decision making, stability and adaptability, perpetuation and self-renewal.
Clarity is defined as knowing where one belongs in the organization. If you do not know where you belong in the organization, you would be at a loss as to what contribution to make. Economy is defined as the minimum effort required to control, to supervise and to coax. Freedom in the work place and initiative gives way to large economic savings.
Direction is defined as the channeling of the organization towards performance and results. You cannot do business or have an organization without direction. That goes contrary to common conventions.
Decision-making is defined as the action on the right issues on the right level, converting it into work and accomplishment. Organizations live and breathe decision-making. It has to act and it has to convert its decision into work and accomplish something. Stability and adaptability is defined as the ability to work in spite of the turmoil around.
In a chaotic business environment one has to work notwithstanding the chaos and turmoil. You must focus on the important and disregard urgent. Perpetuation and self-renewal is defined as the capability of the organization to produce from within tomorrow’s leaders.
Ideally tomorrow’s leaders should come from within. However, in an environment where speed is a crucial factor in organizations, there might be instance wherein tomorrow’s leader might come from without.
These specification and requirements of clarity, economy, direction of vision, understanding of the individual, decision making, stability and adaptability, perpetuation and self-renewal would be difficult to accomplish without strategic planning. Strategic planning can bring these parts and combine them to make a whole that would be the vehicle to bring the company to the future.
The Organization must Visualize the Plan
Organizations cannot move ahead if they are not agreed on its direction. Should we concentrate on the local market this year and the international market next year? Or should we concentrate on both local and international markets this year? This question of direction if not fully answered and understood will put the organization to a standstill, a case of paddling your boat against the current. Agreement of direction is crucial for organizations to move smoothly and steadily toward its goal.
In order for organizations to be agreed on direction and other crucial issues, the strategic planner must be able to communicate clearly and effectively the strategic plan. This strategic plan embodies the why of the organizational direction, the how of the organization direction, and the when of the organizational direction.
The strategic plan answers:
Why are we going into that direction?
How are we going to that direction?
When are we going to that direction?
Some probable answers might be:
There is an unseen opportunity, they do not see it, but we do.
We do it by stages, 25% of our resources for every time period.
We start in summer, when potential customers are in an all time high.
Visualization is a continuous process. The strategic planner must be able to somehow communication the plan in a manner it is visualized by the organization. The mental imagery that he has developed, seen and understood well has to be made visible, available and comprehensible to the organization. The methodology is not the issue here, but the end result. The organization must continually be briefed, debriefed and reminded of the strategic plan. Continuity and regularity are key elements in letting the organization visualize the plan.
The Organization must Internalize the Plan
Visualization must give way to internalization. What does this really mean? It simply means that the strategic planner must not only continually brief, debrief and remind the organization of the strategic plan but must see to it that it is internalized. By internalization is meant that, the strategic planner must make a systematic effort that the organization will be able to bear in mind the strategic plan, sans meetings or memos.
Internalization by character is a systematic effort. And as such, it is geared toward a very specific aim. The aim of internalization is two fold, to make the visualized plan part of the nature of the organization and to make the visualized plan unconsciously assimilated into the organization. Systematic effort is the key. Some companies shout slogans, some sing songs, some place banners all around the place, it is really up to the organization what seems sound.
Making the visualized plan part of the nature of the organization and making the visualized plan unconsciously assimilated into the organization, may sound like an incredible feat but this is simply possible. A case in point is a rather large company that simply missed some driving forces in the business arena bringing it to a significantly huge loss. But the strategic planners had done their job well, having visualized the strategic plan and having internalized the strategic plan, the whole organization took pay and salary cuts for two years in a row. The end result was complete recovery. That is visualization and internalization par excellence.
The Organization must Commit to the Plan
The final element in getting your organization behind strategic planning is the commitment to the plan. Visualization is good, internalization is better but commitment is by far the best. Commitment is the execution of the plan, the translation of the abstract to the concrete. It is what can be dubbed as the actual not the perceived.
To the strategic planner, commitment to the plan is not simply its execution. Commitment to the plan also involves organized feedback in the midst of execution. Perfection eludes even the most brilliantly crafted strategic plan. So, organized feedback is the kind of commitment that organization contributes in order that the plan will attain to its desired purposes in the midst of its execution.
Many organizations hate organized feedback; they perceive it as a hindrance on the part of the organization. Yes, organized feedback is a hindrance. It is a hindrance to failure. Organized feedback allows the organization to re-think is visualization and the interlocking internalization. It allows for minute or major adjustments in the playing field.
The production of visible results is also part of the organization’s commitment to its strategic plan. Results cannot be claimed as results if they are not simply visible. This kind of result is achievable when the whole organization works on specific tasks: divide and conquer is the cry. Some visible results upon closer scrutiny are not acceptable after all. A sudden leap in the sales figure is not considered a visible result until it passes the scrutiny: what triggered it? What kind of calculation was employed? What were the inclusions? What price index was used?
The organization committed to its strategic plan does not immediately accept so-called visible results, hook, line and sinker. It consults organized feedback, it consults the visible results criterion, it scrutinizes in the midst of execution. Strategic planners can and will get their organizations behind their strategic plan. How? This is done only by including every one in the organization and only by including no one. That is the paradox you have to resolve.