At a Glance
- The best managed companies tend to engage in continuous strategic planning.
- Strategic planning should be a flexible and dynamic process that adapts to rapid change.
- A plan remains just words on paper unless it is accepted and implemented by the people in the organisation
At the core of effective management is the ability to plan. As individuals progress within an organisation, the focus of planning shifts from operational to strategic. Top management takes responsibility for strategic planning, and once the blueprint is set, lower-level managers implement it through operational planning.
The best managed companies tend to engage in continuous strategic planning. In organisations with visionary thinkers who can foresee the future, strategic planning plays an important role in preparing for the future by attempting to simulate and prepare for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Not all roses, strategic planning has its limits
Strategic planning, while valuable, has its limitations and therefore, it cannot guarantee future success. It is not a crystal ball for decision making. Instead, it provides guidance based on informed assumptions about the future. However, it cannot anticipate all possible outcomes because the future remains uncertain.
From 2020 to 2021, the percentage of US consumers using fintech surged from 58% to 88%. This significant year-on-year increase is an impressive 52%. To put this rapid adoption into perspective, it took nearly two decades for refrigerators to reach a similar level of adoption, a decade for computers, and just five years for smartphones. This situation shows how much change can happen in a short period of time. That is why strategic planning is not a blueprint for the future. It should be a flexible and dynamic process that adapts to rapid change — changing markets and customer preferences, emerging competition, and evolving technologies.
It should be noted that strategic planning cannot identify every organisational problem. Rather, it attempts to identify the most critical issues that an organisation may face. By focusing on these key issues, strategic planning minimises the amount of detail required, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful implementation.
Common problems with strategic planning
Up to 48% of businesses cited strategic planning as their biggest hurdle, according to research data from 2023’s biggest business challenges. Some of the common challenges associated with strategic planning include:
- Lack of support. Strategic plans often fail under the best of circumstances. Senior management support is critical to successful plan execution. Without this support, implementation becomes difficult, and the plan can be derailed, resulting in wasted time and effort.
- Resource intensity. Strategic planning requires the involvement of people from different departments, extensive research, and the allocation of resources. This can be resource intensive, especially if an organisation is already facing resource constraints.
- Internal resistance. Many organisations face internal resistance due to factors such as poor communication between senior management and those responsible for implementation. If you don’t have buy-in at the operational level, implementation will be derailed.
Successful strategic planning starts with change from people
A plan remains just words on paper unless it is accepted and implemented by the people in the organisation. To encourage buy-in at all levels, consider these recommendations:
- Involve everyone. Encourage input and active participation from everyone in the organisation. During the planning process, provide space for employees to share their opinions and have a say in the change. People will respond more positively to change if they feel they have a say in it.
- Communicate positively. When faced with resistance, avoid using threatening or negative communication. Resistance is a natural reaction, especially if the change affects job security. Instead, focus on improving communication to help them better understand the benefits of proposed changes.
- Learn from past success. When implementing a new change, draw on the patterns of previous successful changes within your organisation. This approach helps prevent “change fatigue”, a phenomenon reported by 71% of employees when change efforts have repeatedly failed. By building on past successes, you can instil confidence and trust in the change process.
Feeling stuck in your strategic planning?
After a series of unsuccessful change initiatives, organisations should consider seeking the help of a change management consultancy like Renoir. With over 25 years of experience, we are committed to helping organisations achieve long-term success.
We use our behavioural and cultural change methodologies to drive projects to full adoption. Read more about our behavioural change approaches here.
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