Strategic Business Planning: Casting a Very Wide Net

Strategic Business Planning: Casting a Very Wide Net

I just did a Google search on “Strategic Business Planning” – and got 88.2 million hits! Now, I haven’t read every one of them, but I bet that they would fall into one of these categories:
  • Definitions of strategy. Which would be contained in:
  • Copies of academic papers on the subject. Which would lead to:
  • Arguments about these academic papers. Which would be described in:
  • Course notes from universities. And finally:
  • A fair percentage from consultants who can advise you on how to best develop your strategy.
Perhaps it is obvious, but I like to keep an all-embracing view on strategy development and management, so we dont lose the context on where something fits.
Does Strategic Planning always go well? Of course not. And in my opinion this view is sector-agnostic, in that I have seen the best and worst of planning and implementation in both public and private sector worlds.
I have been involved in organisations who do this very well. In these organisations, everyone, and I mean everyone, knows what the organisation stands for, where it is going, how it proposes to get there, and how each person contributes to this. There are direct links from the highest level of strategic planning through business unit plans to individuals’ performance agreements.
I have also had experience with organisations where it is not done well. One of these organisations worked hard at it, although missed some key aspects of success. They ran through planning sessions every year, dutifully described projects to achieve strategic objectives through the year and then produced a report every three or four months on how they were going, with lovely colour scales. The good bit – if a program hadn’t started yet, it got the best green rating, because (stay with me here) if it hadn’t started yet, it wasn’t late finishing (yet)!
As you may be able to tell, I enjoy talking about, discussing and understanding strategic business planning. The whys, hows, whos, who cares etc are all of interest to me. One topic close to my thinking is that the usual targets of marketing and sales, while vital, don’t tell the whole story. There are so many areas of consideration, like the dollars, the people, the supply chain, risks.
As a CPA (Certified Practicing Accountant), although working more in the IT, Planning and Strategy, and Program Delivery worlds these days, I do recognise the integral nature of finance and budgeting to every aspect of an organisation, and therefore to Strategic Business Planning.
And what about ICT (Info & Comms Technology)? Every one of the above areas I mentioned, in fact almost every area of business is now touched in some way by ICT. But it is also an area where it is treated in so many different ways from a Strategic Planning perspective, sometimes ignored, but I would argue, rarely integrated well.
Is it coming a time where we let ICT out of the back office and recognise the part that it plays in delivering real value to a business? And in fairness can also have a significant capacity for creating risk?
And how does that impact stakeholder involvement across the business or ensure the right perspectives is flowing into the planning process? Perhaps those thoughts are for another time.
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