What is strategic planning ?

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October 19, 2016

What is strategic planning ?

According to Anderson (2000) the strategic planning approach considers strategic decision making processes as logically sequenced activities that allow management to analytically determine an appropriate strategic path for the entire organisation. Poister and Edwards (2010) suggest that strategic planning is a process which can be seen to force executives to clarify goals and objectives, formalize communication, reduce reactionary responses to external shocks, help organisations plan for the long term and force organisations to gather analysis for better decision making while unifying activities.

Rhodes (2011) believes that the first step of the Strategic Planning Process is to build capability for strategic decision-making. He suggests that all members of the organisation must “buy-in” to the implementation plan, and that the plan must list all high level activities and subtasks. Additionally, deliverables related metrics for each activity and subtask must be clearly stated and accountabilities, roles and responsibilities must be clearly laid out for each potential risk and deliverable. For strategic planning to be successful the organisations members and employees must have a very clear understanding of the part they will play and that a detailed plan for identifying and mitigating risk should be woven into the plan. Lastly, implementation plans must be achievable and people must believe that they are achievable.

According to Poister and Edwards (2010) many proponents have prescribed steps for completing a strategic planning process and these steps generally include [1] planning for strategic planning [2] stating organisational mission, vision and values [3] assessing external and internal environments [4] stakeholder assessment [5] identifying and analyzing issues facing the organisation [6] stating goals of how the organisation will face issues [7] creating strategies for reaching goals [8] assessing feasibility of strategies [9] creating and implementing action plans and [10] evaluating, monitoring and updating processes.

Planning and in particular strategic planning have been characterized as learning processes. However, the extent to which strategic planning processes have a learning character seem to vary widely in practice. Some authors have even argued that formalized strategic planning processes discourage learning and may thus be counterproductive to the effectiveness of planning (Schaffer and Willauer, 2003).

Mintzberg (1994) suggests the term strategic planning is an oxymoron and that strategy cannot be planned because planning is about analysis and strategy is about synthesis. In the view of Graetz (2002), strategic planning and strategic thinking are different, but interrelated and complementary thought processes that must sustain and support one another for effective strategic management. Graetz suggests that the role of strategic thinking is to seek innovation and imagine new and very different futures that may lead the company to redefine its core strategies and even its industry. Strategic planning’s role is to realize and support strategies developed through the strategic thinking process and to integrate these back into the business.

Bryson (2011) suggests the benefits of strategic planning include that it helps communication, participation and judgment, helps accommodate divergent interests and values, assists decision making informed by reasonable strategic analysis, promotes successful implementation and accountability and enhances ongoing learning.