Creating a strategic plan may be easy to some people. There are templates available in the market. The creation of strategic plans that do not work is of no value; it is fiction not reality. In the real world, while fiction entertains, amuses and provokes, it does not contribute to the goals of business or organizations.
Realistic Strategic Plan
Can a strategic plan work? Can it actually work? This thought provoking question will be our criterion as we as we navigate through the maze of planning workability. What works will work, what does not work will not work, no matter what to put into it.
Creating a strategic plan that work starts with the question of, is it realistic? By definition plans are results of the thinking process and the brain performs so many astonishing things, it produces dreams and visions that oftentimes are fictional in character. When creating a plan and you target workability as its end, the question of it being realistic is the first of four steps. Reality is both tangible and intangible. Computer software is tangible, you write the programming language; it is also intangible, you do not actually see with your eyes how the computer sorts and analyses the data, but you see the results. Same thing characterizes a plan that actually works.
By realistic it means that the created plan can and will work. The end result is not the primary consideration but workability is the issue. Realistic plans will work regardless of whether the results will be favorable or unfavorable. Years ago, business and organizations hired all the people it possibly can hire, to cope up with expansion and business volume. A case in point are, companies who have heavy documentation: banks, insurance companies, health care providers. Their dilemma is so much volume and so few people to process them. Hiring more will only add to the dilemma.
A realistic plan was conceptualized, that of sub-contracting or subs as they are mostly called. This was a realistic plan because of two very important highways: the information highway and the delivery highway. The sub can be located far off but still document processing was still possible, they can be delivered by special couriers and sent back by special couriers. Another alternative was to do the processing on line and send the processed data via the Internet.
Attainable Strategic Plan
Creating a realistic plan is just the initial stage in a strategic plan that actually works. A second step connects it. A strategic plan that actually works is not only realistic it is also attainable. It must be something that can be constructed, something that can be made concrete, and something that should be within reach.
Our previous picture of the documentation hungry business or organization had not only a realistic plan but an attainable plan as well.
This attainability was achieved primarily by two very important driving forces: that of information delivery via the information highway and that of document delivery via special couriers who can deliver anywhere in the world. The absence of one would tip the balance so that the plan becomes unrealistic and unattainable.
The strategic planner should be able to identify driving forces or important technology that may be crucial to the attainability of the strategic plan. Such driving force or new technology may differ from business to business or from organization to organization. It is the planner’s responsibility to see to it that the strategic plan should be within reach.
Measurable Strategic Plan
A third step in the creation of a strategic plan that actually works is connected with the concept of analysis and measurement. A strategic plan that actually works must be realistic, attainable and measurable. It must be a kind of plan where steps, processes and movement can be monitored, analyzed and evaluated. A plan that cannot be measured in any manner is probably not a plan but a figment of imagination.
The strategic planner must be able to measure the different segment or section of the strategic. In so doing, he is able to determine if progress has been made or if the was an unusual delay, unusual activity and delayed occurrences. He then can determine if the plan is on schedule, barely on schedule or if the plan has been delayed in its various aspects.
Measuring, monitoring, analyzing and evaluating are musts for a strategic plan that actually works. A tell tale sign that the strategic plan has actually work is that there are visible results. The results however are subject to measurement, and this is where the strategic planner comes in. He measures the output and if it is not according to projections, he investigates what happens. Is the plan unrealistic? Is the plan unattainable? Or is it just that there are unforeseen challenges. As in the case of the business with heavy documentation requirements, if document-processing volume does not come at par with projections, what does the strategic planner then do? He then starts his measurements.
Alterable Strategic Plan
A common premise that we have constantly quoted is that there are just no perfect strategic plans. The reason alone that human beings prepare it is enough for plans to lack perfection. There are however strategic plans that are workable, excellently prepared, passionately executed and having the desired results.
Reviewing how to create a strategic plan that actually works, we went from the creation of a plan that is realistic, the creation of a plan that is attainable, the creation of a plan that is measurable and now, the creation of a plan that is alterable. Change is the only thing that is constant in the business world; plan alteration is a typical occurrence.
The strategic planner cannot be rigid in his strategic plan, a plan is just a plan, a guide so to speak where to go, what to do, and how to do it. As the planners starts his measurement and analyses of information and discover something amiss in the strategic plan, he then calls for a plan alteration. Plan alteration can take the form of change, revision, enlargement or abandonment.
In a large number of cases, strategic plans after the measurement phase may only call for change, revision, or the inclusion of addition items. Rarely are plans abandoned in its entirety although that is possible. Change and revisions are normal occurrences. The strategic planner who insists that all will go well after measurement reveals otherwise is in for trouble. A sales figure might just be too high, so you have to revise it. The organization structure is just top heavy, there are too many managerial layers, not efficient in a communication intensive business environ, so you have to revise it.
Will a strategic plan containing these elements: realistic, attainable, measurable and alterable really work? We believe it will. An analysis of business plans, strategic plans, even military plans contain all of these elements. A strategic plan with these ingredients is supposed to actually work. But what if it does not? Part of the element is that it is alterable. If it does not really work then abandon it and start with a clean sheet of paper.