Strategic planning: One path to progress

So many industries are changing so rapidly that MBA programs aren't using the term “strategic planning” anymore, Jim Dalton said at the NTEA summer board meeting July 10.

Dalton, the consultant who guided the strategic planning sessions at this year's summer meeting of the NTEA board of trustees, said that for many, strategic planning should be more than updating last year's plan. Strategic planning should be an ongoing process and not an annual event.

According to Dalton, strategy involves four elements:

  • Strategic issues

    These should be stated simply and should involve events outside your company. Although many things might be changing in the environment in which the company or organization operates, many of those changes are factors that nothing can be done to change. Of the factors that the company can do something about, the company should concentrate on the most important.

  • Desired outcome

    To what end should the company take this issue?

  • Guiding principles

    Not every method can be used to get to the desired outcome. Decisions should be made based on principles: Is this good or bad? Is it ethical or unethical?

  • Event sequence

    This is the company's action plan.

The strategy should be a series of cause-and-effect statements directed at the given outcome. These questions should include:

  1. Whom do we serve?

    Look at those your company is serving now and also in the future. Should the company serve a different type of customer in the future? Will the company serve a different type of customer?

  2. What do we do for them?

    Consider all the things your company does. Is there anything it should add for the future? Is there anything it should discontinue?

  3. How do you do it?

    Good question, and good luck.

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