By Denise Harrison, Senior Consultant

First published in Course and Direction in March 2008

Strategic Planning Expert

Strategic Planning Expert

    1.    As CEO, are you tired of acting as a referee caused by turf battles between businesses or functional areas? Developing a strategic plan allows team members to develop a shared base of knowledge which allows the team to come to consensus on key company priorities and allocates resources based on these priorities. After a strategic planning process often CEOs can put away their striped jerseys and quiet their whistles.

    2.    Do you find your team does not get key projects accomplished throughout the year? Do you constantly give your team new assignments? Strategic planning forces a team to select 8-10 key objectives to accomplish during the next 12-18 months. Once selected new opportunities or projects must be brought to the team for evaluation. If the project needs to move forward, then one of the other objectives must come off the list. If the list needs to stay the same, this project can be evaluated during the next cycle of strategic planning. Adding projects without evaluating what is already on the plate causes the team to suffer under the weight of too many initiatives.

    3.    Your team is not executing your vision. A strategic planning process allows all team members to analyze market trends and competitor movement along with your company’s strengths and weaknesses. In this way the team develops a shared vision of the future and develops plans in order to achieve that vision. The strategic planning process develops buy-in from the total team.

    4.    Your management team needs professional development in order for the company to move to the next level. Strategic planning allows team members to see the big picture and enables them to lead given company priorities rather than specific functional requirements. It is a great way to develop your team member management capability.

    5.    Your company is stagnant and you need to find new avenues for growth. Strategic planning addresses opportunities for growth by looking at new markets, new products and services for existing markets and new ways to leverage existing strategic competencies. As a team you develop a large number of possible opportunities and cull the list down to the few that have high return and, ideally, lower risk, in order to get back on the desired growth path.

    6.    Your team is repeatedly stymied by unexpected events. During the strategic planning process you evaluate risk in two areas: first, Threats–outside forces that may significantly impact your business, but you have little or no control over; and second, How can we shoot ourselves in the foot? This exercise has the team look at ways it might be (unknowingly) sabotaging itself. The two exercises allow the team to understand key risk areas and develop plans to mitigate the risk.

    7.    Your team is striving for perfection and not focusing on the key areas of the business. During the strategic planning process you constantly rank strengths and weaknesses so that you focus on making the strengths that have made you successful better and only focus on improving or eliminating the weaknesses that are critical to your future success.

    8.    Competitors are outwitting you in the marketplace. Key to strategic planning is understanding your competitors: where they are today and what they are planning to do in the future. This information allows the team to make informed decisions as to where your company has a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    9.    Your team does not see a significant shift in technology or a supplier goes out of business. Strategic planning provides the discipline for your team to look at all external forces–markets, competition, technology, suppliers, economic and regulatory–which allows issues to be brought up and analyzed in each area lowering the possibility of a surprise.

    10.    You miss a significant industry shift and you are now competing against different competitors for different customers. The purpose of the 10 year Industry Scenario and Winner’s Profile is to force the team to develop possible industry shifts so that your company does not get caught flat footed.

Do you have other reasons why a CEO should consider strategic planning?  If so, please reply to this blow below.

For ways to enhance your strategic planning process, please watch our video:  Why Isn’t My Strategic Planning Working?  This video will give you tips for enhancing the strategic thinking during your next strategic plan update.

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

© Copyright 2014 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

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