Three Strategic Planning To-Do’s during Tough Times
I had an interesting discussion last week with an executive who suggested that Strategic Planning was of NO Value during this economic downturn. This was intriguing to me as a short sighted statement from a very smart individual. Sorry if that sounds arrogant, yet, I have experienced this type of economic downturn in a regional group of states during the mid-80’s. And, the key to surviving is to totally understand your options and making the critical choices for success. Winging it is not an option.
Assuming that you agree that Strategic Planning is still – if not more – important today, what do you do differently in your strategic thinking process? There are three things you want to cover in your current planning activities. These include the following…
- More Scenario Planning – It is time to be realistic in your strategic thinking and limit the blue sky approach for more realistic scenarios. In fact, you will want to increase the number of variables and possibilities in your situation analysis. Add more complexity – as this is actually more realistic during these times. You will want to prepare more than the standard of high, low and most probable scenarios and reflect upon additional combination’s of possible performance.
- Intensify Monitoring of Information – This is mandatory. The one major flaw of leadership during my mid 80’s recession – depression experience was the lack of important information. It was amazing to me that so many decisions were being made – with little accurate information or details – for their organization, markets and government actions. It is time to monitor ALL key indicators of the economy, your customers, the markets and any others factors influencing your ability to market your products and services. Now is the time to have your Performance Management System going full speed.
- Look Beyond the Crisis – Now this is the toughest call because it involves balanced thought – the future needs against current realities. What a tug of war. If you only play like a turtle and pull in your limbs (people and efforts), you will be under-prepared for the coming breakout. If you go too fast you could strip your organization of its valuable lifeline – cash – and create an even bigger problem for the organization. To budget your decision making there are a two major factors to consider: one is to closely watch the fundamental market trends. This will tell you when the turn will occur. And, two is continuing evaluating the effectiveness of your current strategy. What is working and what is not working. No time for pie in the sky thinking – it is time for accuracy and good metrics concerning performance.
There you have it. Things that are important during this difficult time in the economic environment. Strategic Planning is a must have during this time. Sure it takes time to get the extra information and to develop the multiple scenarios for proper in-depth planning. Yet, it is time well spent and you will be rewarded by being fully prepared for the coming breakout of the economy.
One last tip for the high performers – closely look at what is working today. It is very important to identify these areas that can provide the needed cash flow and positive energy for everyone in the organization. And, here is the key. Focus on the area with intensity and effort. Discover if you can get more results with a combination of additional people, resources and add-on products? These answers can the big difference maker for the organization.
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