By Denise Harrison

Denise Harrison

Note:  This article is part of a series taken from Denise Harrison’s article March to a Different Drummer originally published in Compass Points in August 2002.  Although this article was written in 2002, this discussion is timeless.  In Part One, published July 1, 2016, we introduced the series.  In Part Two, published July 22, we discussed some Historical Examples.  Part Three, published July 29,2016, discussed Don’t Follow the Leader and this post will discuss How to find the right marching beat for your company.

Situation Analysis

First evaluate external forces: What impacts your business from the outside?

Examine your core business by describing your market segments. Market segments are groups of customers with similar needs and preferences. Write down what your customers in each segment now and what they will require in the future. Next evaluate your competition; what are their strengths and weaknesses? Where is each company’s soft underbelly? Next you need to assess trends in technology, supplier issues, economic trends, and any recent or pending changes in the regulatory environment.

Regulatory change was the catalyst that spurred all of the airlines, not only Piedmont, to revise their strategies.

Next look internally; what are your company’s strengths and weaknesses? What is the key intellectual capital that sets you apart from the competition? Again, IIS found that it was the relentless dedication to zero defects and customer satisfaction that set them apart from the competition.

Assumptions for the Future

Next look to the future; how will trends change? What will customers require? What new opportunities should you pursue to achieve your growth and profit goals? What prospects are right for you to consider, given the strengths and intellectual capital that you identified.

Careful analysis leads to focus. Focus allows you to purposefully select the best road to travel.

Strategy Development

A clearly defined strategy that optimizes the future potential of the business is the goal.

This clearly defined strategy includes answers to the following:

  1. What are you going to do in your core businesses?
  2. What new opportunities will you pursue?
  3. What must you accomplish internally to achieve steps 1 and 2?

Developing a strategy is defining not only what the company will do, but also what it will not do. Making definitive choices is one of the most important aspects of strategic planning. Choosing the best road for your company may or may not be the road less traveled, but it will be the right road for your company. Your company’s ability to capitalize on its unique mix of assets and capabilities will give it sustainable competitive advantage in its markets.

To learn how to take your strategic planning to the next level, please listen to our webinar:  Why Isn’t My Strategic Plan Working?.

Denise Harrison is a senior consultant for the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  She can be reached at

© Copyright 2016 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × three =