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Strategic Planning: What does it Mean?, and How is it done Effectively?

Most business owners or managers recognize that a strategic plan is a directional map for where their companies are headed and how they intend to get there. However, it is much harder for them to understand what goes into the strategic planning process, how the strategy-making task is best performed, and the full impact of the process the planning team goes through to develop the strategic direction of their organization.

Strategic planning is best done when a company looks at its past, present, and future in light of its related environment. It is the process of thinking about the company and its related environment as an integrated whole. A process during which an executive "planning team" is organized to consider three key questions on a continuous basis:

1. What is our business? 2. Where do we wish to arrive, and when? and 3. How do we get from here to there?

In a personal interview, Karen Poppe, Vice-President of Human Resource Management at Wall Drug, discussed the importance of organizing a strategic planning team to guide the long-term direction of a company. The planning team at Wall Drug consists of six key management people covering finance, personnel, and marketing. Clearly the success of those planning efforts is reflected in Wall Drug's average annual growth rate of 25% over the last five years.

What is our Business?

The process of defining the mission of company is a time consuming, tedious task requiring patience and persistence. It contains few specific directives. Characteristically, the mission is a statement of attitude, outlook, and orientation rather than of details and quantitatively measurable targets.

Managers need to think about mission statements as enduring…...

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