Discuss About The Strategic Planning Is Planning Of Objectives?
Strategic planning is the planning of the objectives for a firm and the direction the firm takes to attain these objectives (Alkhafaji, 2013). Strategic planning involves creation, implementation and evaluation of the various strategies that a firm makes in order to achieve its goals and objective. Strategic planning has been an important management tool since a very long time. However, there has been a constant debate about the relevance and effectiveness of strategic planning in view of constant changes and uncertain future (Bryson, et al., 2009). In the wake of changing dynamics of modern business and changing technology, this debate has become fierce. However, majority of thinkers believe that uncertain future and change is the main reason why strategic planning is necessary (Alkhafaji, 2013). The following essay argues in favour of strategic planning and tries to give persuasive reasoning why strategic planning is not a waste of time considering the pace of change.
Strategic Planning- not a waste of time
Strategic planning is considered to be the central line for management and governance of a company (Bryson, et al., 2009). It is argued that, strategic planning provides a purpose to an organisation and its employees. Moreover, those in favour of strategic planning point out that, without planning there will be chaos and confusion which will spell doom for an organisation (Berry, 2007). However, certain researchers and academicians feel that there is no clear evidence about relevance or irrelevance of strategic planning Furthermore, it is debated that, due to the unpredictability of future and rapid and dynamic business changes, strategic planning is a waste of time. However, some academicians also point out that firms which plan for the future based on the expected future outcomes have more chances of being successful
Due to a revolution in information and communication technology, business scenarios have undergone a rapid change (Alkhafaji, 2013). Production and marketing methods have changed and are continuously changing. On the surface level due to changing methods and practices of business, planning seems a futile activity. A sudden invention or innovation may change the whole shape of business functioning, leading to irrelevance of whatever planning that has been done (Spee & Jarzabkowski, 2011). Hence, it is believed that senior management should utilize ideas to manage customer wants on a frequent basis rather than going for long term plans (Berry, 2007). Therefore, the centre point of the argument against strategic planning is that planning does not help in finding solution to the events evoked by rapidly changing business environment.
However, contrary to the above arguments there is still evidence that despite the mammoth changes hitting the business world on frequent basis, strategic planning is still an important process in business management (Alkhafaji, 2013). Strategic planning, it is argued, gives a basis to the organisational vision.
Strategic planning is relevant even in the time of change (Berry, 2007). Only through planning, reflection and analysis a firm can decide to invest its resources. Without strategic planning a firm will not be able to respond to change as it wouldn’t know how to respond or what action to take (Berry, 2007). Planning gives guidance to the management and workers which helps them in taking adequate action; given a sudden situation.
It is argued that, change renders strategic planning useless (Alkhafaji, 2013). However, on closer inspection it can be said that, strategic planning builds the alignment of the organisation effectively. Through planning the firm can understand the change and react to them by making necessary amendments in the overall plan. Strategic planning also assists in communicating action plans on a daily or monthly basis to the workforce (Dwyer, 2013). Due to the process of strategic planning the entire workforce of an organisation becomes aware of their purpose and the reason of actions taken by the management.
Plans are not made by firm to be followed rigidly (Spee & Jarzabkowski, 2011). They can be altered as and when required. In face of a change the firm can realign itself and its objectives and change its plans to suit the changed process. However, not making any plan at all will render the firm goal less. The employees won’t know what action to take and even during a drastic change they will not be in a position to manage the organisation (Alkhafaji, 2013). In absence of strategic planning, there will be chaos and ultimately the organisation will fail. Therefore, even during a business situation change the firm needs proper strategic planning of the future course of action.
Strategic planning brings about transparency (Berry, 2007). Due to strategic planning all departments know what others are doing and act in a synchronised manner. In absence of strategic planning there will not be coherence between various departments and they will not be able to take a planned and cohesive action to achieve the organisational goal.
Strategic planning also helps in forming proper workable relationship with stakeholders (Alkhafaji, 2013). Even if change occurs, stakeholders will try to stick with the organisation if relationship has been built through effective planning. Additionally, stakeholders will also feel more secure if the organisation has structured plans of goal achievement which involves them as per their areas and expresses. For example, a plan of a future contract with a supplier will make him feel secure about his future business. Even if a change occurs the organisation can have a clause in the contract to make allowance for a certain change. However, a lack of plan can breed insecurity in stakeholders regarding their own future with the organisation (Alkhafaji, 2013). Therefore, strategic planning is also important for stakeholder relationship.
The most relevant argument which is given against the strategic planning process is that future is uncertain and sudden changes may affect the organisation and render the plan ineffective. However, the organisation is not faced with drastic changes all the time (Alkhafaji, 2013). Most of the time small business changes affect the firm. Planning helps in adapting to change. Furthermore, a good strategic plan has a window to adapt to change and make necessary amendments to contend with it (Alkhafaji, 2013). However, without strategic planning the basic functioning of the organisation will be hampered. The organisation would not have a purpose (Berry, 2007). It would not have a road map for performance and even if a positive change occurs, the firm will not be able to respond to it.
To cite and example in support of the argument, suppose a sudden shift in demand pattern occurs which affects a firm’s sales revenue and impacts the objective of sales volume achievement which it has set for itself. In absence of a proper plan, the management wouldn’t know how to handle this situation. Without prior strategic planning there would not be any proper resource allocation to make any adjustment. There wouldn’t be any objectives which could be altered to react to the situation (Alkhafaji, 2013). However, if the firm has planned its finances, marketing and human resource policies effectively, it can make small amendments in the plan and realign resources to change certain product features to meet the change in demand.
Similarly, if a competitor changes price or comes out with a product innovation which affects the demand of the product of the firm, the firm can make changes in its plans, adapt to the requirements and respond to the competitor’s action (Alkhafaji, 2013). However, if there is no plan and the firm is running on day to day basis by responding to daily needs in an unplanned manner, the workforce will not get proper instructions regarding wheat actions to be taken in view of the competitor’s policy change (Alkhafaji, 2013). Therefore, to manage change a firm needs adequate strategic planning so that it can communicate regarding realignment of resources to the stakeholders and employees.
Those against strategic planning use the unpredictability of future as a bottom-line of their argument and say that, as changes cannot be predicted; strategic planning is a waste of time (Alkhafaji, 2013). However, this argument speaks of a laid back attitude and belief in fate. This argument holds for letting the future happen and not making it happen (Bryson, et al., 2009). It is a matter of fact that without planning, action cannot be taken. In other words any action taken without planning can be suicidal for the organisation (Bryson, et al., 2009). An unplanned respace to change can lead to undesired outcome. For example, if the firm reacts to a demand shift without planning the next action, the firm may face rejection from the customers.
Future is uncertain and ridden with unpredictable changes (Alkhafaji, 2013). However, strategic planning based on scientific forecasts and projections can help safeguard the organisation in the face of imminent changes. Strategic planning is about being proactive while lack of strategic planning is being reactive. Future cannot be foreseen but forecasts can be made regarding changing market conditions based on the present trends. Extreme drastic changes are rare. Most changes can be predicted to a great degree of accuracy by reflection and application of management principles (Alkhafaji, 2013). However, in case of a drastic change no plan will work but one should not stop planning because a drastic change may befall the organisation.
Basic aim of strategic planning is to give a purpose and a direction to the organisation (Alkhafaji, 2013). For example, a certain sales outcome can be an objective. Even if changes occur the firm will still be able to achieve near figure of the projected figure of the sales outcome that it had planned. However, in absence of strategic planning there will be no direction. The employees will be working on daily instructions and there will be no serious thoughts given to any goals (Alkhafaji, 2013). In this scenario even if a change occurs the firm may buckle down and may not be able to respond accurately.
In the view of changing business scenarios those companies which do not have strong foundation made by the tools of strategic planning will not be able to survive for long in the field (Alkhafaji, 2013). Customer choices have become complex and demanding. Therefore, a proper understanding of consumer behaviour is required (Alkhafaji, 2013). This understanding can only be brought about through strategic planning. A good plan which focuses on solid goals and creates proper policies can help in understanding the customer needs.
Companies can only survive if they focus on goal achievement and make adaptable plans to achieve the goals. Focus of the organisation on the goal can be created through proper strategic planning as strategic planning gives a purpose to the organisation. Purposeless organisation will not be able to focus and hence will not be able to react to changes (Alkhafaji, 2013). Therefore, such a firm will not be able to survive in the changing times of business.
Proper strategic planning will help in understanding market conditions, customer segments, product preferences and other important aspects of business. Strategic planning also helps to understand the competitor. Lack of strategic planning will cause an organisation to function in isolation due to which it will not be able to understand the changes when they occur (Alkhafaji, 2013). Strategic planning gives a proper direction to the business and helps in creating goals for achievement in near or long term future. It also helps in giving vision and purpose to a business even in the time of change (Berry, 2007). Consequently, such firms will not be able to respond to change. Therefore, strategic planning is very important and essential for business in changing market conditions.
Strategic planning is considered to be useless by some thinker. However, strategic planning is important to formulate goals and objectives. Changes can also be forecast based on scientific measures of trend projection and plans can be altered based on changes. However, an organisation without strategic planning will be purposeless and will not be able to respond to the changing demands of business. Therefore, strategic planning is not a waste of time but need of a business to sustain itself in the ever-changing business world.
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Bryson, J., Crosby, B. & Bryson, J., (2009) Understanding strategic planning and the formulation and implementation of strategic plans as a way of knowing: The contributions of actor-network theory. International public management journal, 12(2), pp. 172-2007.
Dwyer, J., (2013) Communication for Business and the Professions, Strategies and Skills,. 5th ed. Melbourne: Pearson Education Austrilia.
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