How Does the Volatility of Today’s World Change How Businesses Develop and Execute Strategic Planning?

Written by Jay McDonald on .

For many businesses, the fast paced, volatile nature of the world today, highlights the need to learn how to not just survive, but thrive during uncertainty. However, for more than a few companies, it’s difficult to respond quickly and even more challenging to make decisions that are influenced by constantly changing factors. As a consequence, fundamental strategies need to be revisited, reworked or sometimes scrapped altogether. The bottom line? The modern world around us plays a key role in how organizations develop and execute strategic planning, and it’s often these external elements beyond business that influence whether or not objectives will be met.

A Shift in Strategic Focus: From Long Range and Specific to Short Term and Broad How does the uncertainty and volatility of today’s world change how businesses do business? Well for one thing, the chaos around us is of much more concern than historically has been the case, making it even more critical for businesses to recognize and respond appropriately. There’s no doubt, the world around us is changing rapidly, from an economical, social, political, and technological standpoint, locally as well as globally. The dynamics have shifted dramatically from just a few years ago, where companies could create strategy with a long range purpose and feel confident that they had the tools and resources to see it through with only minor adjustments. Today, that commitment has been replaced by a much shorter vision – one that must be capable of revision on extremely short notice.  Building flexibility and adaptability into today’s organizations is critical. In my twenties I worked on a strategic development team for a business in the financial industry. We created a long range strategy that consisted of a ten year plan of its vision backed by five-year strategy, and a one year operating plan. Strategy had a long range focus and it was a sure thing. By contrast, today, business strategy is fuzzy when you get beyond three years. It’s defined by broad direction where anything can change – and it does. Reviews, Updates and Tweaks are Necessary Sooner In years past, a business would update a strategic plan about once every year in efforts to keep in line with long-term goals. Today, leaders on the cutting edge, are reviewing and making slight course modifications every 90 days. That doesn’t mean they throw the entire plan away every three months and start over – the foundation of the plan always remains the focus. But it is necessary to examine the strategic direction by updating, revisiting and continually tweaking to ensure it is still appropriate for reaching long term goals and values. Recognizing the Forces of Change and Having Agility to Adapt For businesses to thrive in this new era of uncertainty and change, it’s not enough to recognize how fast things are moving. Decision makers and leaders who create strategy must recognize the forces of change and respond quickly and in the most appropriate way. They need to have agility and the dexterity to shift focus and change direction on a dime, without hesitation. Having awareness on every level and the foresight to anticipate change and respond quickly will separate the leaders from those who simply get by.

Jay McDonald

With a unique breadth of knowledge earned through decades of hands- on experience, Jay is recognized as a strategic visionary whose high energy, quick wit and straight talk combined with a passion for mentoring others allows him to help executives achieve greater results and enjoy more rewarding personal lives. Connect with Jay McDonald on Google+

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