For years terms like strategic planning, future-thinking, business roadmaps, strategy frameworks, and more, have been bantered about – somehow, we are all supposed to know what they mean and how they relate to the organisations we are a part of.
Each individual has been groomed throughout their working career to have an understanding of these words… but have they been taught the correct term? Have they been shown how to understand, overlay and implement strategy and operations?
The goal for any organisation should be to move as one. One body of strategy, operations, human resources working in unison to push the organisation forward towards its destination.
Strategic thinking is future-based. It looks at overall goals, where the business is heading, and why. Think of it like the map that guides your journey.
Operational thinking is what happens in the here and now. It is the daily actions that need to get done. It is the ‘how’ as opposed to the ‘why’. Think of it like driving the vehicle on your journey.
A successful journey requires a strategic and an operational mind – i.e. you’ll need a map (a guide, a strategy and reason to start your voyage) and you’ll need to drive that vehicle (a means of getting to your destination).
How you overlay or ‘marry up’ these opposite elements of the organisation (future vs now) will determine how effective and efficient you can run, as well as how fast you can achieve the business objectives and goals.
Firstly, you will need some clarity of vision. Determine what the overall goal of your organisation is. What does your organisation do, and why?
When you discover why your organisation does something, rather than just how you’re going to do it, you’re already planning for the future.
You may already have this as part of your strategy, but after any major shakeup to your industry sector or crisis event impacting the economy it is important to review the strategic objectives and realign with your why. As you know, business is a constantly changing landscape. The organisation that is poised and ready for change is the organisation that endures.
The fact is, how your business operates and how you do things will change depending on how the markets, your environment, and economy changes, adapts and evolves. But the purpose of any organisation, why it exists, what its visions is – that will be, for the most part, unchanging.
One example is the film industry.
Films have always existed to entertain. That’s why they were made. (Of course, they’re made to be profitable. But a film that isn’t entertaining isn’t going to be the most profitable.) Entertainment is still the why today. But the industry has changed many times within the last few decades. From video, to DVD, to the streaming services that currently dominate, how films are made, produced, bought and sold has all changed. The organisations that have thrived within the film industry have adapted their operations (how they did things) and kept focus on why they were doing it. This is the basis for future strategic planning.
Chances are you already have a strategy. That’s how you’re planning to reach your organisational goals.
Who is in charge of making sure you’re achieving that goal?
Future strategic planning comes from the management team(s), then trickles down to influence everything the organisation does. A good organisation will seek input from team members on the front lines of the business to assist in guiding and influencing their decisions. Surveys and conversations are a good way to gain this information.
Strategy is something thought out over the long-term. It’s not about losing focus of the present. It’s about making sure that the present is utilised to succeed and thrive, so growth and profit is sustained and enduring.
Savvy business minds and successful organisations know that the future isn’t a distant and vague notion. It is an active state of reality. Change is inevitable, and when you have a plan, a strategy, and a goal, you can from change.
When we talk about ‘the future’ we are really talking about change. Will your organisation utilise change as a driving force for success, rather than fight change and becoming stagnant?
The best economists, business analysts and social scientists have touched on several topics to take note of when it comes to the future of work. Some things we should all be considering with regards to our strategies and operations are:
You can also find more information on strategic planning
- In this article ‘Spotlight on Strategic Planning’
- Another one to focus on ‘Spotlight on Holistic Business Strategy’
- You can also read this article ‘The Recipe For Strategic Planning Your Grandma Didn’t Pass Down’
- In this worksheet ‘Find The One Thing To Hack Your Success’
- Try this worksheet ‘Taking a Holistic Look at your Organisation’
- This worksheet can also support your organisation‘s success ‘Ways Your Business Can Quickly THRIVE & SUCCEED’
- In this article ‘Workforce of the future’
- Strategic thinking is future based (calculated) and operational thinking is the day-by-day activity (transactional).
- Have confidence in knowing the time you spend on reviewing (or setting) the strategy of the organisation will assist in moving you towards success. It also means you can spend less time continuously wondering if the activities you engage in month by month are aiding the organisation in reaching its objectives and goals.
- Align your day-by-day operations to your strategy by breaking down the objectives into yearly, biannual, monthly and even weekly actions. It ensures any decision made each day will be viewed under the influence of the organisation’s objectives and goals.
- Organisation who are agile and adapt to industry sector or economic changes swiftly are more likely to succeed – don’t be afraid to diversify your business activity temporarily, it may serve you well and create a new stream of revenue long term.
Test this theory:
- Step 1: Take a piece of paper – on the left side of the paper list the answers to the strategic thinking steps outlined above. On the right side list the answers to the operational thinking steps outline above.
- Step 2: Identify the commonalities and how you can bridge the gap between strategy and operations with planning. Use planning (breaking down strategy into actionable activities) to reaffirm or define the bridge activities needed between the two opposite aspects of the organisation.
- Step 3: Identify at least 3 ways you can manage and assess this activity; it will give you data metrics to assist with the regular review process to remain on track between strategy and operations.