In an organization, strategic planning is the management activity that is adopted with the aim of setting priorities, strengthening operations, and ensuring employees and other organizational stakeholders are focused towards achieving a common goal. It hence helps in the establishment the relevant agreements between the employer and the employees on the intended results and performance outcomes (Greg &Hosie, 2014). The process thus helps in the assessment, adjustments, and evaluation of its direction in response to the ever changing business environment. In a systematic study,Haines (2016) points out that it is a disciplined effort aimed at producing fundamental actions and decisions that guides and shapes what the organization does, how, and why it does it with a focus on the future achievements. This paper presents a critical analysisof the strategic planning of Curtin University as a case study organization.
Critical analysis of organization strategic planning
The strategic planning and management framework of Curtin University is mainly composed of a critical analysis or assessment of the organization which provides an understanding of the organization current internal as well as external environments (Grant, 2016). It also has a strategy formulation phase in which a high development strategy is developed as well as a developed strategy execution plan where the former high plan is translated into more operational and action items. Lastly, it has an evaluation of sustainment management phase is done to evaluate and monitor the progress of the organizational strategic plans.
One of the most adopted or developed strategic planning document which this paper will give a critical analysis is the Classical 4- Step strategic Approach to planning. It is a simple structure which helps an organization to holistically develop and implement its plans. It is composed of a four main steps or approaches in which the first step involves the situational analysis of the organization (Wheelen& Hunger, 2017). Under this stage of development of a strategic plan, the company establishes its current reality or its present position. The assessment should be done honestly across all the key factors of the intended plan. Any errors resulting from the assessment may have significant implications in the future. The situational analysis provides an organization audit which helps in understanding the organization information concerning the organization set up, the performance of the organization as well as the problem areas which need to examined by looking into the organization history as well as its profile, the previous and current organization strategies, the financial assessment and the organization governance structure.
The second step of the approach outlines the vision or the direction of the organization. The plan outline s the mission statement of the organization as well as the purpose of the organization, the values, behavioral standards and the strategy of the organization competitive position the future of the organization is not only outlined under the mission statement but also under the vision statement of the organization (Wolf & Floyd, 2017). This step also outlines the aims and objectives of the organization where the aims are complex and long term goals while the objectives may either be short term or long term development goals. This step is also very crucial in the development of an effective strategic planning document of an organization. It entails some of the most crucial information and if stated wrongly definitely the plans will be unachievable.
The third step in this approach outlines the organization strategy development. The organization develops a well thought- through route map to guide it towards the future of the organization. The strategy development comprises of a comprehensive detail of actions and steps guided to help the organization to where it wants to go. It is also comprised of an introduction to the overall planning process as well as the team involved and resources used the goals and supporting strategies, the organization program portfolio, and implementation chronology as well as the risk management strategies and the monitoring and evaluation framework. Therefore, the strategy provides a pattern that blends intended responses with responses that emerge out of the changing organizational environment.
The last step of an organizational strategic planning according to this approach is the monitoring and evaluation which helps the organization to determine whether it has achieved its purpose, goals, and objectives. The process of this step should be adopted at the start of the project implementation to allow effective monitoring and evaluation of every step of the strategic planning process. Effective successful monitoring and evaluation can only happen if the organization determines the outset of relevant key performance indicators (Dibrell et al. 2014). Monitoring helps the organization to determine whether planned results have been achieved to allow the organization take corrective action. Evaluation helps the organization to assess the ongoing or completed programs or designs in order to determine the relevance and fulfillment of the organization objectives, efficiency, effectiveness, impact as well as sustainability.
A SWOT Analysis of the organizational strategic planning
A SWOT analysis is a strategic management tool that is used by organizations to determine the strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities as well as the threats likely to be experienced in the course of implementing the designed plan. It examines the organizational internal strengths and weakness, its current and future opportunities for growth and improvement as well as the threats the external environment presents to its survival (Fleisher &Bensoussan, 2015). The classic four step approach to strategic planning has been found to be very simple and due to its simplicity, it has been adopted by many business organizations. It is easily understood by all the organization stakeholders and therefore one of the greatest strength is in its ability to address the various planning concerns from the shareholders. The approach, therefore, can be easily adopted and implemented by many organizations and improve their effectiveness (Joanna, Anne, &Steve, 2014). Its ability to monitor the progress of an organization policy at different levels of implementation also ensures that the challenges which might prevent the organization from achieving its goals and take corrective measure in advance. The organization future is clearly seen through the development of initiatives which are guided towards achieving the company common goals and objectives.
However, the strategy has a great weakness in providing the time frame of achieving the set goals and objectives. An effective strategy is said to time bound and that it should allow the organization to achieve its goals and objectives in the stipulated time frame (Haines, 2016). This normally happens to the series of monitoring and evaluation which have to be done in every step of the strategic planning implementation. Especially when a problem is detected during monitoring and evaluation that has to be done before the project or program goes on (Reccado, 2015). However, the weaknesses can be overcome through the effective initial development and careful assessment as well as a review of the goals and objectives of the organization before the start of any stage of the strategy implementation.
Strategic insights through which the organization can prepare for the future
The success of an organization in achieving its short term and long term goals is dependent on the strategic plan document of the organization. The purpose of the document is to communicate to the organization the goals as well as the actions that the organization needs to take in order to achieve those goals and objectives and all other critical organization elements developed during the initial planning. Strategic planning is, therefore, an organization management activity that can generally usedby Curtin University to set priorities of an organization, strengthen operations through focusing on the organization energy and resources and ensuring that employees and other organization stakeholders are working together for a common good (Hill & Schilling, 2014). Different organizations adopt different strategic planning documents or frameworks depending on the size as well as the operations of the organization. Whichever the choice of the strategic plan, an effective strategic plan articulates not only the areas of concern where the organization has to take progressive actions but also how the organization will know if it’s successful.
Despite the weaknesses of the approach or the strategic plan, it has great opportunities to improve as it provides distinct features through which other models of improvement can be integrated and lead to improved outcomes of the plan (Sikora& Ferris, 2014). For example, during the second step of understanding the future direction or the vision of the organization the organization can still conduct a SWOT analysis and understand the feasibility of the project, it can also conduct a cost benefit analysis to determine the viability of the projects even before their plans are implemented
Lastly, the approach also experiences threats from other organizational strategies which seek to offer a different channel of achieving organizational goals and objectives and where the managers are in control of the plans or they decide everything that has to be done in the organization(Grant, 2016). Due to its structural nature then the managers may not use the planning strategy, especially where they need to achieve short term goals and objectives. In most case organizations rather choose to adopt short term development or planning strategies in order to achieve their goals which do not provide a room for carrying out major guidelines and assessments required by the classic four step strategic approach.
It is evident that strategic planning plays an important role in improving the overall satisfaction with strategy development. These insights may not necessarily change the planning strategy but may contribute highly to ensuring the success of the development of the organization strategy. The first insight is that the management of the organization needs to focus or start dealing with the issues affecting the organization (Andersen, 2014). Many times the managers have been found to focus on planning budgets as well as financial forecasting and anticipating big future challenges rather than focusing on the issues which might affect the implementation of the planning. In my opinion, however, the managers should identify and discuss the strategic issues that have or may have a likelihood of posing the greatest impact on the future performance of the organization. Such discussions help the managers to settle into a more typical planning exercises as well as identifying strategic initiatives.
The managers also need to bring the right people together since an effective issue based approach can only bear substantial results when the right people are involved in the debates. Many organizations have been found to focus on gathering data for strategic planning and ignore the interactive components which are vital in the development of effective strategic plans (Albrecht et al. 2015). It is also recommended that the managers need also to adapt planning cycles addressing the needs of each business. In most cases, managers have been found to focus on resources and time required to implement the strategies however it is important that they also focus on executing the plans major initiatives. These cycles build slack into an organization strategic review system and enable the management to address unforeseen but pressing strategic issues.
SWOT Analysis Summary
Simplicity - the approach is very simple and therefore easily adopted
Lacks a time frame of achieving set goals and objectives
The approach can allow future integration with other performance measures
Managerial control and therefore affecting policy decision making
Ability to address various planning concerns
Can experience seasonal changes
Cost benefit analysis can also be done and determine the viability of the plans
Can be substituted with other planning strategies in case of short term planning.
Ability to monitor and evaluate the progress of the plan at different levels of implementation
Cannot be used for short term planning
It is also important for the managers to implement a strategic performance management system in order to enhance the impact of the planning process as compared to the monitoring and evaluation guidelines which prolong the time need to execute the plans. Lastly, in my opinion, the managers need also to integrate human resources systems into the strategic plan as monitoring of the organization strategic initiatives is not sufficient this may necessitate the need for manager’s evaluation since their insights may be very important.
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