Current Strategic Planning is Fatally Flawed

The traditional Strategic Planning process of exploiting a particular product, market segment or type of technology has run its course, and is fatally flawed.

Success is best achieved:

  1. when core strategies are framed by a mindset of exploration, curiosity, and discovery (rather than exploitation)
  2. from great Strategic Thinking, which produces superior results over time (instead of focusing only on goals, objectives, action plans)
  3. knowing how to create advantage by knowing when to move on opportunities or leave other things behind

Adopt a mindset of discovery.

Planning for an unpredictable future can only ever be the second best approach to building an organization that constantly improves its ability to sense the future – and not be blindsided by it.

Why do some leaders and organizations outperform others in making choices and pursuing strategic directions?

It could be that strategic thinking ability is enhanced by a variety of experiences, and the resulting insight a leader brings to the table.

But this is too simple an explanation, because we know that the majority of organizations in an industry achieve average performance. Yet, some outperform and achieve top-tier performance in the same industry.

A Strategic Thinker is able to gauge the sometimes subtle shifts in context and meaning that are the precursor to change, and therefore an emerging opportunity.

This in turn helps to create a vivid image of the future needed to galvanize change, overcome hurdles, and shift an organization onto a new path.

It’s time for a major shift in the ways leaders and their organizations go about the process of creating strategy. This requires a new set of tools, techniques, practices, and mindsets.

How not to be blindsided by the future.

We’ve all been there. Things are running smoothly, and then whack, seemingly out of nowhere your competition takes away your best customer, or the economy shifts.

You never saw it coming, except of course, you did.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, you can see that the signs were there; you just didn’t recognize it at the time.

The most consistently successful companies, with success defined in terms of growth and profitability, are organizations that are able to see and respond to changes in the marketplace more capably and quickly than their competitors.

To exercise Strategic Thinking ask yourself these questions:

  • How do we identify opportunities for growth?
  • How do we avoid threats on the horizon?
  • How do we take advantage of market transformations to bring more value to customers and achieve a lasting advantage over our competitors?
  • What can we do to stay ahead?

Above all notice and talk about changes you are seeing in your business and marketplace. Ask:

  • What has happened recently that is unexpected, unusual, alarming or amusing?
  • What opportunities – and pitfalls – doe these events reveal?

Your answers to these questions will help you distill the most agile, adaptive and successful strategies for staying ahead of market changes, and identify opportunities and capitalize on them quickly.
If you would like the handout, Changes in Your Business and the World, to be aware of, please feel free to reach out to me and I will send it to you.

Bonita Richter, MBA