Basic strategic planning is comprised of several components that build upon the previous piece of the plan, and operates much like a flow chart. However, prior to embarking on this process, it is important to consider the players involved. There must be a commitment from the highest office in the organizational hierarchy. Without buy-in from the head of a company, it is unlikely that other members will be supportive in the planning and eventual implementation process, thereby dooming the plan before it ever takes shape. Commitment and support of the strategic-planning initiative must spread from the president and/or CEO all the way down through the ranks to the line worker on the factory floor. Just as importantly, the strategic-planning team should be composed of top-level managers who are capable of representing the interests, concerns, and opinions of all members of the organization. As well, organizational theory dictates that there should be no more than twelve members of the team. This allows group dynamics to function at their optimal level. The components of the strategic-planning process read much like a laundry list, with one exception: each piece of the process must be kept in its sequential order since each part builds upon the previous one. This is where the similarity to a flow chart is most evident, as can be seen in the following illustration. The only exceptions to this are environmental scanning and continuous implementation, which are continuous processes throughout. This article will now focus on the discussion of each component of the formulation process: environmental scanning, continuous implementation, values assessment, vision and mission formulation, strategy design, performance audit analysis, gap analysis, action-plan development, contingency planning, and final implementation. After that, this article will discuss a Japanese variation to Strategy Formulation, Hoshin Planning, which has become very popular. ENVIRONMENTAL SCANNING
This element of strategy formulation is one of the two continuous processes. Consistently scanning its surroundings serves the distinct purpose of allowing a company to survey a variety of constituents that affect its performance, and which are necessary in order to conduct subsequent pieces of the planning process. There are several specific areas that should be considered, including the overall environment, the specific industry itself, competition, and the internal environment of the firm. The resulting consequence of regular inspection of the environment is that an organization readily notes changes and is able to adapt its strategy accordingly. This leads to the development of a real advantage in the form of accurate responses to internal
Strategic Planning Process
and external stimuli so as to keep pace with the competition. CONTINUOUS IMPLEMENTATION
The idea behind this continual process is that each step of the planning process requires some degree of implementation before the next stage can begin. This naturally dictates that all implementation cannot be postponed until completion of the plan, but must be initiated along the way. Implementation procedures specific to each phase of planning must be completed during that phase in order for the next stage to be started. VALUES ASSESSMENT
All business decisions are fundamentally based on some set of values, whether they are personal or organizational values. The implication here is that since the strategic plan is to be used as a guide for daily decision making, the plan itself should be aligned with those personal and organizational values. To delve even further, a values assessment should include an in-depth analysis of several elements: personal values, organizational values, operating philosophy, organization culture, and stakeholders. This allows the planning team to take a macro look at the organization and how it functions as a whole. Strategic planning...