Dr. Brian Monger
Strategy is about the long term direction and scope of an organisation that will enable it to fulfil its vision and maximise the possibility of its future success. It is the unique and sustainable ways by which organisations create value. Strategies define the goals of the organisation over the long term. It is the process of finding and implementing the optimum sustainable, competitive position in any market.
The closely associated concept of Tactics is the way we implement that strategy in a more immediate situational sense. They provide the detail as to how the organisations executives will achieve the goals and objectives described in the strategy
Specific aspects of the strategy formation process include:
- Searching actively for innovative ways the organisation can improve on what it is already doing.
- Seeking new opportunities for the organisation to pursue.
- Developing ways to increase the firm’s competitive strength and put it in a stronger position to cope with competitive forces.
- Devising ways to build and maintain a competitive advantage.
- Deciding how to meet threatening external developments.
- Motivating individuals throughout the organisation to work more effectively.
- Directing resources away from areas of low or diminishing results toward areas of high or increasing results. (Although just because an offer is having a bad run doesn’t mean we starve it of resources if it’s considered vital to the firm)
- Choosing which value offers to pursue or to abandon.
The critical entrepreneurial skill is making strategic choices that keep the organisation in position to enjoy sustained success.
The Benefits of a Strategic Approach to Management
The advantages of strategic thinking and management process include:
- Providing a communication and co-ordination system – the guidance it provides to people in the organisation, making clear just “what it is we are trying to do and to achieve”; The coordination it gives to all decision making.
- Forcing a wider and longer-range view. The pressures to manage with a short-term focus are strong and frequently lead to decision errors.
- The contribution it makes to recognising and responding to change, (new opportunities, and threats).
- The provision of a management and control system – the basis it provides for evaluating competing requests for investment.
The Key Factors of Strategic Planning
There are a number of key factors to consider with any planning. The areas are as follows:
Focus refers to concentrating limited resources in the areas that will reap the most rewards.
Goals are what we are aiming to achieve from our efforts and investment. All too often that is simply equated with money and does not consider other, more important factors.
Competitive Advantage refers to the fact that we are operating in a competitive environment. If we are not aware of the fact that there are other players competing with us for the same client’s money, then we are likely to lose.
Superior Performance. What is important for the organisation, is to plan a position which takes into account all of the players. Firstly the strategist must achieve superior performance to the competitor. At the same time the strategy must be in line with the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and must also meet the needs of the market. A successful strategy is one which gives a stronger matching of organisational strengths with market needs than that provided by the competition.
Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA), which suggests that there are many possible good ideas, but which one will remain yours (that the competitors cannot take away) and work for the longest time?
Creativity and Innovation. What gives a strategy its competitive impact is the creative element and the will of the mind that conceived it to make it work.
Flexibility – The best strategies are flexible and allow for innovation. They are based on information, which gives us a series of probabilities to work with. Strategy is vulnerable to reality. One cannot totally predict the future. All business decisions are probabilistic. There is always a chance of the plan failing.
Basic Conceptual Simplicity – Complicated, long range plans rarely work and require constant adaptation and change – usually into another detailed long range plan. We must remember that any strategic plan is based partly on historic information and partly on future prediction. Once written it also becomes part of history.
The Ability to be Implemented. A wonderfully conceived and crafted strategy is meaningless unless it can be implemented to achieve the Mission and Goals of the organisation
Determinants of a Successful Business Strategy
Competitive business advantage grows out of the difference in the cost of creating the value offering and what buyers are willing to pay for it. Value represents what buyers are prepared to pay. Superior value comes from offering superior value for prices lower or equal to competitive offerings.
Many, factors need to be considered in formulating strategy. Six broad determinants usually dominate the design of strategy:
1. Market opportunity, industry attractiveness, and competitive forces.
2. The social, political, regulatory, ethical, and economic aspects of the external environment in which the enterprise operates.
3. What an organisations skills, capabilities, and resources allow it to do best.
4. Emerging threats to the organisation’s performance.
5. The organisation’s culture, core beliefs, and business philosophy.
6. The personal values, aspirations, and vision of managers, especially the most senior executive(s).