This month we spoke with Brett Kean a Director in the Business Advisory division about Strategic Planning. Brett is responsible for delivering quality advice to privately owned enterprises and leading our strategic advisory practice. Brett likes nothing better than talking about strategy and assisting clients with the formation and implementation of strategic plans.

What is strategic planning and how does it benefit businesses?

Strategy is about ‘thinking like a general’. The ‘general’ oversees what is happening across all units as the army fights to meet their objectives. The business owner has a similar role when it comes to achieving the businesses’ objectives. So strategic planning is about identifying where your business wants to be, understanding where it is and formulating actions to bridge the gap.

It’s about achieving your long-term business objectives and benefits your business by allowing these objectives to be articulated and effectively communicated to each part of your organisation. Good strategy aligns your business, leads to an effective use of resources and ensures accountability and control for the owners and stakeholders.

What is effective strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a process, not an event. It is dynamic, agile and changes over time.

The process starts with a discovery and planning session in which in depth questioning uncovers what is really important, to determine the direction you wish your business to take.

The result of the session is the creation of a vision for your organisation. This vision will be clear, concise, achievable and visible from all directions. Setting the vision is like placing a “flag on the hill,” it identifies and defines a common goal for the organisation.

From here the strategic plan is developed, a roadmap which focuses on action, empowering business owners and holding the organisation accountable. It is a roadmap which acknowledges that strategy is living and breathing within an organisation. Something which is defined and shaped by culture and something that everyone must understand, embrace and work on.

What happens if a business has a goal but no strategy?

Without strategy a business runs the risk of inertia, a paralysis which causes the organisation to stay where it is, not growing, not changing with its environment and not being in touch with its customers. The ultimate example is an organisation failing to move with the times and eventually going out of business. The good news is, that it’s easy to stop this gradual decline through the use of strategy. Having a goal is the first step and strategic planning sets the path and creates the actions and steps to achieve this goal.

What is the relationship between strategy and the financial results of an organisation?

A business is much more than a set of financial statements, it’s about the people and culture, the processes, the use of technology, the customers and the environment in which it operates.

Strategy allows you the business owner to understand how these critical pieces fit together while the results allow owners to identify and monitor key drivers within each element of your organisation.

It provides you with insight into the organisation’s effectiveness and provides you with focus and clarity on improving these measures that matter, allowing you to drive the business forward.

When should a business invest in strategic planning?

It’s never too late, nor too early to adopt a strategic approach irrespective of size or the business’s evolution. Without a plan there can be no direction for the organisation. Strategic planning provides that roadmap and action to drive the organisation to be profitable, sustainable and to reach that flag on the hill.