By Denise A. Harrison
Is strategic planning dead? Many so-called experts criticize the time spent on evaluating the core businesses and current competition as myopic. They point out that companies often miss emerging markets (mainframe to mini-computer to PC) or are blind-sided by new competition (Wal-Mart entering the retail grocery market). The Simplified Strategic Planning process covers both the evaluation of existing customers and competition and the assessment of future customers and competition. First, you need to know what is going on in the markets your currently serve, not only current and future needs and preferences of customers, but also competition. Next, you must also look at market shifts and make sure your company is positioned to take advantages of changing market conditions.
Industry Scenario/Winner's Profile
In order to capture possible industry transformations the Simplified Strategic Planning process asks your team to generate a scenario of the industry looking at the broad planning horizon, both market-wise and time-wise. For example, if you were selling storage devices to the mainframe computer industry you would look at the whole computer industry for your industry scenario and at a point in time beyond the period for which you are planning. What are possible industry shifts?
In addition, your team should ask: Who will our future customers be? Who will our future competitors be? Once this scenario is developed, then the team is asked to construct the winner's profile, the key characteristics of the winning company given the industry scenario. Future importance and current performance is assessed for each characteristic. Gaps are identified and plans are developed so that the team is working on the items most critical to position your company to be the future winner.
Winning Customer Profile
What about customers? Can you identify the profile for winning customers using the same industry scenario? Yes! Simply take the industry scenario and identify the key future attributes for the winning customer. Then rate your customers and prospects against the winning customer profile. How does your customer base stack up?
Recently several companies employed this approach to focus their marketing and sales efforts. The results were outstanding:
In strategic planning your company must position itself to compete effectively in changing market conditions. Developing an industry scenario looking out beyond the current planning scenario will enable your team to anticipate changing industry dynamics, new customers, and new competitors. In addition, this future vision helps your team develop the profile for the winning customer. Use these profiles to guide your priorities for future development and you will find your company on the path to future prosperity.
Denise A. Harrison is a Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.
She can be reached by email at
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