3 Keys to Effective Strategic Planning
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal points out that businesses can sometimes find their product and service specialties in unique ways. “When Product Lines Take a Sharp Turn,” by Gregg Opelka, highlights businesses that were able to adapt to emerging opportunities, leading the way to greater growth and success.
Consider Sunbeam Corporation, makers of household appliances, which began in the late 1800s as the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, manufacturing tools for grooming horses. There were several iterations in between, each the direct result of customer demand and the ability to shift internal processes in that direction.
The Wrigley Company didn’t start out making chewing gum. The Philadelphia-based company began as a manufacturer of soap. When the founder’s son moved to Chicago to expand the reach of the business, he began to offer free samples of baking powder with each purchase. That worked so well, he ditched the soap and focused on selling baking powder, complete with a free sample of chewing gum. The chewing gum became so popular, he created two brands, Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint gum, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Some would say that these two businesses (and countless others) didn’t plan for success as much as they happened into it. A closer look indicates otherwise.
Business strategy takes many forms, but it has its roots in one simple idea: Identify and satisfy customer needs in a way that is unique from the competition, and be ready to seize on opportunities quickly and efficiently.
The best strategic plans have these three characteristics: they enable organizations to be fast, fluid and flexible.
Think about your business. How many products, programs and services are you offering now that you did not have 10 years ago? Five years ago? And more importantly, as you plan your future, what will you be offering (products and services) to whom (target customers), with what (production and service capability) and with whom (talented team members). In other words, what will your business look like 3-5 years from now?
Strategic planning is not about trying to predict the future. Rather, it creates an organizational competency around recognizing, addressing, and capitalizing on emerging customer needs in a way that outshines the competition.
For information on getting your planning focused and forward-looking, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.