trategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy. Strategic planning became prominent in corporations during the 1960s and remains an important aspect ofstrategic management. It is executed by strategic planners or strategists, who involve many parties and research sources in their analysis of the organization and its relationship to the environment in which it competes. Strategy has many definitions, but generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources). The senior leadership of an organization is generally tasked with determining strategy. Strategy can be planned (intended) or can be observed as a pattern of activity (emergent) as the organization adapts to its environment or competes. Strategy includes processes of formulation and implementation; strategic planning helps coordinate both. However, strategic planning is analytical in nature (i.e., it involves "finding the dots"); strategy formation itself involves synthesis (i.e., "connecting the dots") via strategic thinking. As such, strategic planning occurs around the strategy formation activity. Contents
2 Tools and approaches
3 Strategic planning vs. financial planning
4.1 Strategic planning vs. strategic thinking
5 See also
7 Further reading
Strategic management processes and activities
Strategic planning is a process and thus has inputs, activities, and outputs. It may be formal or informal and is typically iterative, with feedback loops throughout the process. Some elements of the process may be continuous and others may be executed as discrete projects with a definitive start and end during a period. Strategic planning provides inputs for strategic thinking, which guides the actual strategy formation. The end result is the organization's strategy, including a diagnosis of the environment and competitive situation, a guiding policy on what the organization intends to accomplish, and key initiatives or action plans for achieving the guiding policy. Michael Porter wrote in 1980 that formulation of competitive strategy includes consideration of four key elements: 1. Company strengths and weaknesses;
2. Personal values of the key implementers (i.e., management and the board); 3. Industry opportunities and threats; and
4. Broader societal expectations.
The first two elements relate to factors internal to the company (i.e., the internal environment), while the latter two relate to factors external to the company (i.e., the external environment). These elements are considered throughout the strategic planning process. Inputs
Data is gathered from a variety of sources, such as interviews with key executives, review of publicly available documents on the competition or market, primary research (e.g., visiting or observing competitor places of business or comparing prices), industry studies, etc. This may be part of a competitive intelligence program. Inputs are gathered to help support an understanding of the competitive environment and its opportunities and risks. Other inputs include an understanding of the values of key stakeholders, such as the board, shareholders, and senior management. These values may be captured in an organization's vision and mission statements. Activities
The essence of formulating competitive strategy is relating a company to its environment. Michael Porter
Strategic planning activities include meetings and other communication among the organization's leaders and personnel to develop a common understanding regarding...
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