It's important! There's a difference between having a strategic plan and acting strategically
Managing strategically is often an issue of form versus substance. There can be a lack of clarity around strategy in an organization that stems from not recognizing the difference between having a strategic plan and acting strategically.
A strategic plan is a thing, a noun, something tangible. You have it or you don't. But whether what it contains is helpful or not, directional or not, wise or not - that's another issue. Having a plan does not mean that the plan is the result of good strategic thinking. And whether the organization is taking the actions prescribed by the plan or needed to enact the plan or that the plan leads to - that's yet another issue.
Strategic thinking is something one does. You may know it when you see it, but it can be unseen or unrecognized. It's a way of interpreting the world that looks for longer-term implications, openings, new roads, emerging issues and opportunities, how to get from here to there. Strategic thinking can be learned. It can be elicited by intentional activities - such as a good strategic planning process.
Acting strategically is also something that is done, by individuals and organizations. It is overt, seen and intentional. It can flow from individual strategic thinking as well as the strategic plan, which should be the result of collective strategic thinking. It's taking that "aha!" moment and acting on it in the smartest way possible: "Here's a way that will bring us greater success in the future - let's do what's needed now to be there then."
Strategic action is the object of managing strategically, the substance that will make the difference between success and the lack of it. It flows from strategic thinking. An effective strategic plan captures the collective strategic thinking and lays out the strategic actions needed to be more successful.
Don't mistake having a strategic plan in a document as strategic thinking or strategic action. An effective strategic planning process creates the plan and leads to the actions needed for success. The plan is the form. The actions are the substance.
Yes, please do engage in organizational strategic thinking though an effective strategic planning process. But always remember that the result has to be strategic action over time if the thinking, the process and the plan are going to have value for your organization.
According to the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative:
95% of a typical workforce doesnít understand its organizationís strategy.
90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.
86% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy.
60% of organizations donít link strategy and budgeting.
Strategic Planning Focus of the Week: Build on Your Strengths
Itís important to build on the organizationís assets and strengths in the future visioning process.
Let's define strengths and assets from a strategic planning perspective:
An organizational strength is an internal attribute of the organization that contributes to achieving the vision.
An organizational strategic asset is a resource available to the organization from which a strength can be derived.
To determine the organizationís strengths and what they can enable from a strategic point of view:
Itemize the types of strategic assets the organization might have (financial, people, capital equipment, intellectual property, etc.).
Identify any significant assets the organization has in each category.
Identify what the organization could achieve by using these assets.
Do the organizationís strengths identified above lead to compelling possibilities for the organization? These possibilities should be factored into the organizationís future vision.
Strategic Vision of the Week
Royal Caribbean Cruises: "Our vision is to empower and enable our Employees to deliver the best vacation experience to our Guests, thereby generating superior returns to our Stakeholders and enhancing the wellbeing of our Communities."
Strategic Planning Quote of the Week
ďThank God for competition. When our competitors upset our plans or outdo our designs, they open infinite possibilities of our own work to us.Ē - Gil Atkinson
Our vision is every organization creates a plan with strategies and action steps leading to greater success.
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Don't delay! Without a strategic vision and a plan to get there, your future is not as bright as it can be.