Whether you are a small, medium or large business enterprise, your survival and growth requires some form of strategic action. This strategic action can be either “planning” or “thinking”. Henry Mintzberg (1994), stated that strategic thinking is about using intuition and creativity to formulate an integrated perspective, a vision, of where the organization should be heading, while strategic planning implies breaking down a goal into steps, designing how the steps may be implemented, and estimating the anticipated consequences of each step. The differences between the analysis involved in the planning process and the synthesis in the thinking process centers on the dynamics of business environment and the timing to deploy each process.
Strategic thinking requires that you think rapidly on your feet in order to respond to today’s changing business environment. On the other hand strategic planning entails that you have a business document that spells out the future direction of the company. Consequently, the bottom line of strategy for any business is to sustain profitability, revenue, and customer growth. These attributes were there yesterday and will always be there in the future. However, because of what it takes to create and retain a customer today, strategic thinking should guide strategy plans. A customer created at 8:00am can be lost at 8:30am to another competitor because of ease of access to internet for price and service comparisons. So, strategic planning should be transformational in order to allow re-thinking and re-actions for changing business attributes and customer needs.
For today’s business enterprises the essence of strategic plans is to provide the context and guidance that drive the definition of business functions, processes, systems, and organization.
Enterprise strategic plans define the mission and long range objectives for conducting the business, and the mechanics for achieving them. In addition, they determine the actions and allocation of resources to meet strategic objectives, allowing for the effective utilization of an organization’s investment in time and resources.
Strategic thinking makes strategic plan a journey rather than a destination. At least six fundamental types of strategic plans requiring strategic thinking are involved in every business:
Business Plan, Product Plan, Financial Plan, Organization Plan, Marketing Plan, IT Plan.
These strategic plans together define the mission and long-term objectives for the business enterprise and the actionable steps for achieving them. The strategic IT Plan defines and guides the IT enablement of the business and related plans. The executable roadmaps for implementation and deployment of the strategic plans would normally be found in a business transformation plan (part of the Business Plan) and an IT transition plan (part of a strategic IT Plan).
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