Vantage Point
Vantage Point is a quarterly newsletter designed to help organizations
improve performance through strategic planning and executive consulting.
Planning FAQs
Three Fundamental Questions

A strategic plan, can take many forms. Some companies have very detailed strategic plans that fill up three-ring binders and sit on bookshelves collecting dust. Other organizations have plans that are only known by the president and a chosen few believing that the power of the plan is its secrecy. So what is a strategic plan? A plan is any document that answers three basic questions about the organization.

1. Where does the organization want to be in the future?
2. Where is the organization at present?
3. What actions must the organization take to close the gap between where it is and where it wants to be?

Any document that addresses these three questions is a strategic plan. Although these three questions are simple to ask, they are usually very difficult to answer. That is why each of these questions is broken into smaller, more specific pieces, which are referred to as the components of the plan. Some of the most common components of a strategic plan include goals, objectives, mission, strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities, critical issues and action plans. Each of these components is used to answer one of the three basic questions.
Strategic Planning Myths

There are many myths about strategic planning that we have run into over the last 20 years. Although planning has become an integral part of the management process in many organizations, there are still those that subscribe to the lingering myths. Here are some of my favorites:

1) Things change too fast to plan. - Some people say it is all we can do to keep up with change. "We don't have the time to plan." These people are constantly reacting rather than anticipating and preempting problems. A good plan helps an organization avoid problems and channel resources into more constructive areas.

2) The president does all the planning. - "The president has the final decision on anything of importance and therefore makes all the planning decisions." Even if that is true, chances are the president cannot implement the plan without the commitment and support of the employees. By involving more employees in the planning process, this commitment and support is much easier to obtain.

3) A plan reduces our flexibility. - Some feel that once a decision is written down on a piece of paper, it cannot be changed. These people are afraid that a plan will handcuff them so they are unable to adapt to a changing environment. Of course a plan is only a guide. As new information is available, the plan can and should be changed accordingly.
Poll Question
The poll question last quarter asked people how likely they thought it was that the Republican Party would retain the majority in both the House and Senate after the November election. The poll called it correctly with 48% saying it was unlikely the Republicans would hold on to power while only 39% said they would. Here are the actual results:
17%Very Likely
22%Somewhat Likely
11%Toss Up (Don't Know)
28%Somewhat Unlikely
22%Very Unlikely
Our poll question this quarter is: What is your outlook for the economy in 2007 compared to 2006?

  • Much Stronger
  • Somewhat Stronger
  • Toss Up (Don't Know)
  • Somewhat Weaker
  • Much Weaker
  • We will report the results in the next issue.
    Click here to participate in our poll. You may return to the Poll Page to monitor the results as often as you like. However, you should respond to the poll question only once.
    Planning is Global
    Last October I had the privilege of conducting a two-day seminar in Washington, D.C. on strategic planning. The participants were a group of international leaders in the non-profit community of developing countries spanning the globe from Uganda to Vietnam to Peru. While I presented in English, the seminar was simultaneously translated into French and Spanish. While this was perhaps the most diverse group of leaders with which I have ever worked, it proved to me that planning is truly a universal tool for dealing with the common challenges facing organizations everywhere. The principles of planning cross geographic and national boundaries with ease. The challenges of communicating goals, gaining consensus and building commitment are the challenges we all face as we strive to improve the performance of our organizations.
    Future Topics
  • More Planning Myths
  • How Planning Evolves Within an Organization
  • Published quarterly by Vantage Associates, on the web at www.vantageassociates.com
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