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Thriving, not just surviving

Image shows a tiny seedling with a thin white stem and a pair of small green leaves at the top. The seeding is growing out of a wall or pavement with an indistinct green foliage background. This image accompanies a post from Enforma London about ways in which to plan strategically so that your business will thrive and not just survive.

The old adage is as true today as it always was: "If it's not growing, it's probably dead!".

All organisations hope to thrive, but this requires a series of intentional decisions to make a strategic plan, put it into action, and review it at regular intervals. Strategic Planning is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organisation's priorities and goals.

The textbooks tell us that there are five steps in Business Strategy:

1) Development of Vision - creating a corporate vision and a mission statement that helps employees understand how they can feed into the overall goals of the organisation.

2) Gathering and Analysing - where information and data are brought together and examined to understand the needs of the business, its direction and the initiatives that are required to help it thrive.

3) Formulating the Strategy - where the issues facing the company are prioritised, current resources evaluated, and additional resources required identified.

4) Implemention of the Strategy - the plan is put into action with an effective structure, clear definition of responsibilities and duties (with KPIs), and additional resources or funding secured.

5) Evaluation and Control - the plan should be under regular, formal review, so that it can be continuously improved and refined and actual results compared with the original plan.

That's the theory. In reality the pace of change is now so rapid, that carefully crafted strategies are often overtaken by the latest top-down reorganisation, and discarded overnight. Because so many large tech companies are seeing regular bi-annual re-orgs, the new norm is Agile Strategic Planning, where key managers are encouraged to decide for themselves which projects they work on, as long as the organisation is working towards its overall objectives.

This works well where priorities and objectives are tightly defined, and regular reporting is established, however it’s less successful when definitions are too loose, or restructuring undermines the overall plan. Communication is key; involve your stakeholders and intentionally keep lines of communication open on an ongoing basis.

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