Strategic Planning

Louie Larimer has facilitated numerous strategic planning initiatives for a variety of corporate, government and not for profit clients.

He is a skilled facilitator who stimulates and focuses an executive team's thinking by asking them the following six questions and guiding them in the process of answering the questions and creating effective strategies.

1. Where are we today?

Answering this question requires a detailed and comprehensive self-assessment of the organization’s current state of affairs.

The process of self-assessment is often referred to as: an “organizational assessment,” a “situation audit,” a “management audit,” an “organizational profile,” or an “organizational snapshot.”

Despite its nomenclature, the self-assessment involves identifying and evaluating the following organizational factors: financial performance, mission, values, goals, objectives, business strategies, organizational structure and management, facilities and equipment, technology, workforce, competitors, industry trends, workflow and systems, markets, product and service offerings, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and internal and external barriers to performance.

2. What is expected of us?

Answering this question requires identifying the needs, wants, demands and expectations of the following groups:  shareholders or owners; stakeholders (interested parties); customers; employees; managers; creditors; suppliers; and government regulators.

Clearly, the organization must take into account and create a plan to fulfill or deal with the various expectations of each of the foregoing groups.

3. What does the future look like?

Answering this question requires:  anticipating future scenarios, identifying factors and trends that could occur in the future; looking at the horizon and trying to see what might occur in the world, business market, industry that could have an impact on the organization.

4. What do we want to become?

Answering this question requires:  developing specific and compelling alternative visions of what the organization could become at a certain point in the future (three, five, seven or ten years); evaluating the appropriateness of those visions; and agreeing upon the specific vision the organization should pursue.

5. How do we achieve our vision?

Answering this question requires:  modifying existing business strategies; developing new business strategies; identifying the resources that will be needed; making decisions and changes that will allow the vision to become a reality; identifying and pursuing short and long term goals and objectives; developing a specific plan of action.

6. How do we monitor our progress?

Answering this question requires: identifying and monitoring key performance indicators; developing a balanced corporate scorecard; creating executive performance expectations; establishing review and accountability criteria and processes, etc.

Strategic Planning Plays a Critical Role in Determining Your Company’s Financial Performance

The wrong business strategy will lead to serious difficulties, no matter how internally efficient a company may be.

Conversely, a company may be inefficient internally but successful if it has the right strategies.
Strategic Planning Results in Increased Profitability and Organizational Performance

A number of quantitative studies indicate that strategic planning pays off in producing improved performance in sales, profit, market share, return on shareholder’s equity, operating ratios and price/earnings ratios of stock.

It Fulfills an 
Important Management Responsibility

Surveys indicate that the chief executive officers of the 500 largest industrial, banking, financial, retailing, transportation and utility companies in the United States believe strategic planning is their most important responsibility as a CEO.

It Asks and Answers the Critical Questions Necessary for Financial Success

Strategic Planning asks and answers the following questions in an orderly way, with a scale of priority and urgency:

What is our basic line of business?  What are our underlying philosophies and purposes?  What are our long and short-range goals?  What products and/or services are going to be obsolete?  What will be our cash flow over the next five years?  What and where are our markets?  What market share can we capture?  How will we capture market share?  Who are our major competitors and what will they do that will harm us?  What major changes are taking place in the economic environment and market place that will affect us?  What opportunities or threats exist in the years ahead that we should exploit or avoid?

It Forces the Setting of Goals and Objectives

Strategic Planning results in specific goals and objectives that provide a powerful and motivating force for managerial achievement.

It Reveals Opportunities and Threats

Strategic planning results in the identification of organizational opportunities and threats that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.

It therefore allows for exploitation of opportunities and avoidance of threats.

It Provides a Framework for Decision Making Throughout the Organization

When an organization has developed and communicated its overall objectives, strategies, and policies, managers down the line have a basis for making both major and minor decisions that move the organization closer to achieving the company’s goals and objectives.

It Provides a Basis For Measuring Corporate Performance

A number of quantitative studies indicate that strategic planning pays off in producing improved performance in sales, profit, market share, return on shareholder’s equity, operating ratios and price/earning ratios of stock.

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