- Understand the process by which a company develops and implements a strategic plan.
Without a plan, it’s hard to succeed at anything. The reason is simple: if you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t really move forward. Successful managers decide where they want to be and then figure out how to get there. In planning, managers set goals and determine the best way to achieve them. As a result of the planning process, everyone in the organization knows what should be done, who should do it, and how it should be done.
Developing a Strategic Plan
Coming up with an idea—say, starting a note-taking business—is a good start, but it’s only a start. Planning for it is a step forward. Planning begins at the highest level and works its way down through the organization. Step one is usually called strategic planning, which is the process of establishing an overall course of action. To begin this process, you should ask yourself a couple of very basic questions: Why, for example, does the organization exist? What value does it create? Sam Walton posed these questions in the process of founding Wal-Mart: his new chain of stores would exist to offer customers the lowest prices with the best possible service (Scott, 2006).
After you’ve identified the purpose of your company, you’re ready to take the remaining steps in the strategic-planning process:
- Write a mission statement that tells customers, employees, and others why your organization exists.
- Identify core values or beliefs that will guide the behavior of members of the organization.
- Assess the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Establish goals and objectives, or performance targets, to direct all the activities that you’ll perform to achieve your mission.
- Develop and implement tactical and operational plans to achieve goals and objectives.
In the next few sections, we’ll examine these components of the strategic-planning process.
As we saw in an earlier chapter, the mission statement describes the purpose of your organization—the reason for its existence. It tells the reader what the organization is committed to doing. It can be very concise, like the one from Mary Kay Inc. (the cosmetics company): “To enrich the lives of women around the world.” (Mary Kay Inc., 2011) Or it can be as detailed as the one from Harley-Davidson: “We fulfill dreams inspired by the many roads of the world by providing extraordinary motorcycles and customer experiences. We fuel the passion for freedom in our customers to express their own individuality.” (Harley-Davidson, 2011)
What about Notes-4-You? What should your mission statement say? A simple, concise mission statement for your enterprise could be the following: “To provide high-quality class notes to college students.” On the other hand, you could prepare a more detailed statement that explains what the company is committed to doing, who its customers are, what its focus is, what goods or services it provides, and how it serves its customers. In that case, your mission statement might be the following:
Notes-4-You is committed to earning the loyalty of college students through its focus on customer service. It provides high-quality, dependable, competitively priced class notes that help college students master complex academic subjects.