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Thinking about the future
September 29, 2014

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30-September-2014 Issue#10

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Strategic planning can be a simple process

In previous StratXtra Newsletters I have outlined a simple approach to corporate strategic planning.

In simplest terms, the strategic planning process consists of collecting the necessary information, then thinking about it in one big picture.

The amount of data required to feed the process of strategic thinking is a lot less than most managers believe.

You need to collect only three types of data:

  1. The corporate objectives and targets.
  2. Strengths and weaknesses inside the organization.
  3. Threats and opportunities outside the organization.

Collect these, lay them out clearly before you, and the strategic possibilities will emerge with almost crystal clarity.

You then develop the resulting handful of strategies into detailed action plans and business plans but these are executive tasks, which follow on from the planning process.

Finally, there is the monitoring of plan implementation.

->->->Back to the Future<-<-<-

It can sometimes be a useful challenge to reflect on the past, and ask how you viewed the future a few years ago.

In the movie series Back to the Future a young man is given the chance, using an amazing time travelling car, to see his possible futures. He also has a chance to intervene in events and change the way things turn out.

The Back to the Future movies owe a little something to the older movie, It's A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart.

A guardian angel, Clarence shows the central character George, played by Stewart, all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.

Have you ever said to yourself, “If I could only turn back the clock?”

I wonder what difference it would make to your community if your organization had never existed? Could you say ‘It’s a Wonderful Organizational Life?’

In thinking about the next three, five, ten, or even 50 years ahead of your organization, think back a similar number of years about the past. I do not mean a simple listing of key events.

Ask yourself: ‘What happened during the last, say, ten years that really surprised you? What is happening in your world today that you never even imagined a few years ago?

Are there technological changes that have impacted your organization that you did not foresee? Just few years ago we may have had some kind of portable phone. However, did you envisage the way it would transform into an access device for online applications of so many kinds? What phone or tablet apps are you using in your organization that makes a big difference to the way you work?

Did you see the changes in the workforce that have occurred? Think of the diversity of groups involved, and changing composition of the workforce: men and women, age ranges, multicultural mix, balance of continuing, contract, and casual employees, and so on.

Did you anticipate the shifts in the global scene; trends such as the impact of changing economies on international relations, political realignment, movements of people, relocation of industries, new patterns of transport and logistics.

There are many more trends that we all may have underestimated, or been completely blind-sided by. Do not feel too bad. Many professional forecasters have great trouble. Most economic analysts and commentators were caught out by the Global Financial Crisis.

The key idea is to accept that we cannot predict the future. What we can do, is to review and list an array of current trends, expected events, and then try to envisage the composite future that would arise from the unfolding of such trends and events unfolding.

One approach to this is that of Scenario Planning. Scenario work is a structured approach to visualizing how alternative futures might emerge. We call each of these possible futures a "scenario".

Using scenarios in planning provides an approach to defining a range of possible futures within which organizational performance outcomes may occur.

For example- rather than attempt to forecast which legislative approach to business taxation will emerge from a government review, the strategic planning team will try to describe what might happen if each of the possible options was enacted.

For some challenging examples of how the future may evolve, check out the current McKinsey Quarterly 50th Anniversary Series - Management: The next 50 years.

Before going further you might like an understanding of what I mean by strategic planning. Click here

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The Argenti System of Strategic Planning

The approach to strategic planning that is most in line with the philosophy of Simply Strategic Planning is that developed by John Argenti over forty years ago.

The Argenti System of Strategic Planning can improve the Performance of Your Business by helping you to find Strategic Elephants!

The Argenti process is the only all-in-one planning system, planning-assistance, and planning facilitation service that makes it simple for chief executives and other senior managers to design an exciting future for their organization and improve the performance and morale of the management team while doing so.

A strategic plan built using The Argenti System of Strategic Planning can result in superior long term performance for the organization, as clients can attest.

To find out more click here.

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