Strategic planning is important to all organisations because it provides a sense of direction and outlines measurable goals.
Over the last decade, there has been an increasing number of organisations in the public sector who have started strategic planning. It is a routine and common practice that links planning with implementation. Strategic planning can be applied across all organisations such as transportation or health.
There are different reasons to why organisations create strategic plans such as understanding the priorities and achievements within an organisation; to create real impact. Some organisations fail to value strategy and excel at strategic planning in order to execute a project. If this is the case, organisations struggle to change their behaviour and progress with their important outcomes.
What is strategic planning?
Effective strategic planning sets priorities, focus, resources and ensures that employees and stakeholders work towards a common goal; this is to eventually come to an agreement around an initial result. You need to answer: who the organisation serves, what it does and why it does it; with a focus on the future. In fact, the important part of a strategic plan is to know how an organisation will be successful and what needs to happen to make progress. Where do you stand as an organisation compared to other high-performing organisations? This is where you need to use the Strategic Management Maturity Model.
This model is designed to evaluate the development and performance of an organisation; maturity levels of strategic planning.
So, why plan?
It is through strategic planning and execution that organisations develop and implement their strategies; whether for growth or responding to eventualities. There are four critical areas in strategic planning: culture, purpose, operating model and execution. These will deliver impact and enhance the entire process. According to research, Culture is the most critical because it shapes and is shaped by the other three areas. However, key decision-makers need to be committed to understand the value of strategic planning and therefore, they are responsible in leading change. In fact, strategy is ultimately the top leader’s responsibility.
The ability for an organisation to plan strategically for the future can be a challenging task to undertake, especially when it comes to the public sector. To plan effectively for the future, you must consider several factors, which can affect the day-to-day operation of your organisation. In fact, the critical element in strategic planning is a clear sense of purpose, setting priorities, and fulfilling your mission statement. What are the three actions?
- Reinforce the mission of your organisation
A compelling vision for completing the mission [statement]; usually during a 3-5-year period
- Set clear strategic priorities to achieve your organisation’s vision
- Communicate the strategy throughout the organisation
The strategy needs to come to life by providing an effective strategic narrative for your colleagues; it needs to be relevant, drive performance, and contribute to the organisation.
However, strategic plans are not only an operating tool but can pre-empt big events from happening and when they unfold. Adequate preparation for every eventuality regarding major issues is an essential skill for strategic planning and all teams need to master; in order to be well-prepared and unphased when change happens. In fact, a horizon-scanning is a necessary tool to consider when planning, both in terms of identifying and mitigating risks as well as uncovering opportunities.
It seems to have been used widely across Government between 2010-2013 where there was a Horizon Scanning programme published in 2013 following the Jon Day review.
Remember, “running a business without a strategic plan is like driving across the country blindfolded without a map” – Forbes. The whole point of strategic planning is having a vision of a desired future and turning this vision into an objective and achievement. It is never enough to respond to big events after they happen so that is a main reason to have a strategic plan in place. Understand that preparation and strategy before anything can negatively affect your organisation. A strategic plan only benefits an organisation and does not need to be incredibly detailed.
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