The utility of strategic planning has been doubted by senior managers. This has created a long discussion even among scholars. Mintzberg (1994), who has dedicated part of his life to study strategic planning, is among those scholars presenting a new perspective on the matter. It is quite questionable to argue that long-range planning is merely an academic exercise since there are evidences that could prove its usefulness. Byrne (2004) declares that “strategy has become a part of the main agenda at lots of organisations today”.
In his article, Byrne provides some examples of organisations that have failed and other which have succeeded in implementing strategic planning (See Appendix L. p 48).
“Strategy gurus with vision of new prospects are in…Today’s gurus of strategy urge companies to democratise the process -once the sole province of a companies most senior managers officers- by handing strategic planning over to teams of line and staff managers from different disciplines…And to keep the planning process close to the realities of the markets, today’s strategists say it should also include interaction with key customers and suppliers.
That openness alone marks a revolution in strategic planning, which was among the most sacrosanct and clandestine of corporate activities” (Byrne, 2004).
The concept of strategic planning has even been imported to public education as a management tool since the mid-1980s (Miech, 1995). There are also different opinions about the applicability of strategic planning in higher education. “As a result, there is no consensus (or clarity) on major determinants of strategic planning’s success in universities” (Brief History of Strategic Planning, 2004).
Miech (1995) declares that the literature on strategic planning in education has failed to provide evidences about its effectiveness in this field. That could have been the case by the time Miech’s article was published. Nonetheless, “many universities engaged in strategic planning as means to make beneficial, strategic changes to adapt to the rapidly shifting environment” (Brief History of Strategic Planning, 2004).
Kathleen (2004) says that “strategic planning gives the university, the college, the department, and the administrative unit the opportunity to chart its own course and to focus its own future. Jurinksi (1993) calls strategic planning an intellectual exercise. As such, the process is uniquely suited to higher education”. Kaufman and Herman (1991, p. xiii) say that “strategic planning is in danger of becoming just an educational fad. It is much too valuable an advance to suffer such a fate”. It could be due to this sort of comments that some managers consider strategic planning as an academic exercise. Though, the strategic planning process proposed for higher education is a very useful and interesting one that could even been applied in business (See Appendix M, p. 52).
The never-ending discussion around strategic planning could be related to its nature and scope. Strategic planning “is about fundamental decisions and actions, but it does not attempt to make future decisions…it is a tool, but it is not a substitute for the exercise of judgment and leadership…Finally, strategic planning, though described as disciplined, does not typically flow smoothly form on step to the next…Inevitably the process moves forward and back several time before arriving at the final set of decisions” (What is Strategic Planning, 2004).
Maybe the real problem is not strategic planning, but the way businesses have understood its meaning. The fact that some organisations have been following models of successful business without taking into account their own reality could have been playing a ‘tricky’ role. Copying a winning model does not necessarily mean success. There are many factors -size; kind of organisation; operating environment; adaptability to change; to mention a few- that should be taking into consideration to ‘transplant’ a particular appealing strategic model to a business. The key is that each organisation should try to develop its own strategic planning based on its capabilities, environment, culture, objectives, mission and values.
Kathleen (2004) citing Jurinski states: “that strategic planning efforts that fail typically do so because the organization underestimated the required amount of time, effort and money from the start. The process takes time. It is difficult for any organization or group to go through a strategic planning process in less than two concentrated days in addition to shorter preparatory sessions and later meeting(s) to revise plans based on feedback”.
Long-range planning in general has evolved and this evolution should be considered when discussing its utility. As it has been pointed out in the brief history of strategy planning, new models and approaches have continuously appeared. Currently, scholars talk about strategic thinking not as a substitute of strategic planning, but as a tool to be used in combination with the former. “Strategic planning, then, need not be the enemy of strategic thinking…Strategic planning, broadly conceived and reframed, can be part of the solution” (Liedtka, 1998, p. 34). Other scholars discuss the importance of strategic agility in order to adequately transform the organisation whenever changes in the environment take place. “The organisation’s ability to succeed has more to do with its ability to transform itself, continuously, than whether it has the right strategy” (Graetz, 2002, p. 456).
Any strategy the organisation decides to follow should be flexible, so the organisation could easily adapt to emergent strategies as well as to the new challenges brought by external and internal triggers. Hence, strategic planning has a practical use. It is the task of managers and planners, as a team, to find out the optimum way of creating a strategy. Whatever the noun that follow it -thinking, agility, process, planning, etc-, strategic planning should be especially designed to meet efficiently the business’ needs.
Long-range planning has evolved and changed through time. As part of this evolution, new ways of approaching strategic planning have appeared. There are many definitions concerning the strategic management process. Some of which have proved to be controversial; others have turned out to be so useful that they have managed to survive; and some new definitions have emerged during the last decade. Normally, organisations should create a strategy to run the business. However, it has been confirmed that intended strategies have been replaced by emergent strategies, which concur better with the new business situations.
Strategic management has always been understood as a three-ways process. This process has also experienced a series of transformations that could help organisations to improve the management of their business. Operational policies should be encompassed with the strategic planning. In such a way the objectives of the organisation could be achieved in a more harmonic way. Scenario planning could be a useful planning tool for manager to decide the most effective possibility to accomplish organisational operating policies.
Some scholars have pointed out that the 1960s were not as ‘turbulent’ as the 1990s neither the 2000s. However, each particular situation and its environment have to be assessed within the timeframe where they belong. In each period, changes have had a different impact in the way businesses have been conducted. Consequently, a comparison between the speed of change now and then could be misleading. Managers are the primary source to keep an organisation in touch with the surrounding environment.
Long-range planning should not be regarded as a useless academic tool because many organisations have grown and succeed due to the formulation; implementation; evaluation and control of strategic planning. Long-range planning is not a mere academic exercise. It does have a practical utility not only for business but also for education. Organisations should adapt their structure to follow up the strategy they intend to embark on. Strategic thinking is not a matter of adopting the model just for the sake of doing it. It is about thinking with both sides of the brain in order to determine what is the most effective way for the organisation to achieve it vision, mission, and objectives.
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Intellectual exercise. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/intellectual-exercise-13963-new-essay