When you create a strategic plan you have to take into account the forces external to your business to enable you to plot the correct course.
For some, ignorance is bliss and they prefer to operate using the maxims of the past and expect the old ways and things that made them successful historically to hold true in the current environment.
Operating in this way is like climbing a mountain in the t-shirt and shorts that you started in at the parking lot - you also got out of the car without reading the weather report (because yesterday was perfect weather).
Those who are truly successful work hard to understand the external factors which impact their business now and into the future. With this understanding, they then shape their response and actions to ensure they operate effectively.
Of late, strategic planning has become more challenging in light of world and local events. Prior to this year, we watched almost with bated breath as automation and robotic technologies increased in availability and competence.
This situation is amplified by major and well-known brands and companies being usurped by nimble and fast competition. These events seem so far away from Whanganui, but their economic ripples reach all of us eventually.
However, in 2020 we have a singular event which impacted everyone around the world – the event itself was the same, but the impacts differed depending on which country you lived in. Here, we were fortunate that our geographic isolation gave us an advantage.
However, the negative consequence of our "hard and early" response has been significant for some sectors, while having no impact on others. This being dependent on how close your business is/was to the definition of "essential" at one end of the spectrum (and how border closures impacted you at the other).
Last week I was assisting a business in the review of their policies and out of that, naturally, came discussion of their strategic plan.
Fortunately for them, they occupy a niche and have aspects of their offering which is insulated from several external forces – in fact in some sectors Covid-19 has caused their business to increase while shutting down others. However, what became clear is that there are both opportunities and threats which are what I call "secondary" strategic drivers which are likely to occur as a result of factors mentioned above.
Whilst there was a bit of push back when it came to discussion about what might happen with regard to technology disruption, there was pretty much all round acceptance that material change is the new normal.
The more we examined the operating and strategic environment of the organisation, we found compelling reasons to review and amend their strategic vision – even one that had been in place and accepted for some time (and even withstood an early review after Lockdown #1).
So you need to be watching developments regularly and use that understanding of potential impacts to make the right decisions. It also helps to surround yourself with people who know what is going on and gain access to sources of information that are complete, accurate and valid.
These are uncertain times, but one thing is certain in the business world and that is change - it will continue to happen. Strategic planning is both our specialty and our passion and we help our clients be prepared and proactive in managing change and achieving success.
The more prepared you are and the better your understanding of your business' environment, the more likely it is that you will successfully negotiate whatever the environment throws at you.
* Zenith Solutions is Whanganui's only specialist strategic consulting and risk management practice. For help with your organisation's strategic direction and for advice, contact Russell Bell on 021 244 2421.