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A Strategic Approach to Strategic Planning


Strategy has become a sort of buzzword in Zambian businesses today, especially in the world of marketing. Most organisations seem to have a strategy or strategic approach to every single thing that goes in or out of the business. However, while the focus on strategy is good and obvious, given the competitive nature of business, the effect of poor strategy development is almost always negative.

The first common mistake companies make in strategy development is to engage people in the development processes that do not have the slightest idea on the essence and purpose of strategy. Secondly, the strategies developed are not informed by data or insight of any sort and finally the real developers of strategies are not capable of implementing the good ideas put on paper.

The end result of poor strategy is an organisation that is noncompetitive and in the long run, employees that are unmotivated as well as customers that are frustrated by consistent non delivery of results. Organisations that fall in this endless struggle of poor strategic marketing may appear to be winning the battle but will ultimately lose the war.

There is a better, more informed approach to developing strategies that not only work but also fire up the organisation, the people and the customers. In short, all organisations can build strategies that are strategic.

Five steps to strategic planning.


Understand your environment

Nothing is as uncertain as the business environment of a country. Amidst changing political, economic, social, technological and legal requirements, an organisation’s experience today may a mere memory tomorrow. Therefore, it is imperative that organisations planning their business strategy for the long run should understand and carefully anticipate what their field will look like in the short and long term future. Analysis tools such as Porters 5 Forces and PESTEL make it possible for organisations to constantly evaluate their playing fields for key changes that might disrupt their industries.

Get the right pieces together

There are generally two dynamics to consider when putting the pieces of a strategy together; team size and team composition. With regards to team size, very small teams most times produce narrow-minded strategies that miss the big picture while larger teams tend to be riddled with inefficiencies that ultimately affect the overall strategy.

Even more important than getting the size right is getting the right people on board. Strategy Head’s should constantly seek to build teams of varied skills, strengths and weaknesses in order to win with strategy. It is no longer enough to just put the best talent together, rather it is more beneficial to mix and match the best pieces from all areas of the organisation for the benefit of all.

Take ownership

A strategy is only as good as the belief in which the owners have in its success. Most strategies developed in today’s businesses fail because people inside the organisations do not genuinely believe that the fancy frameworks they put on paper will actually have the desired effect. In some way, this is a challenge unique to those strategies developed by external consultants who draw up the plan and the leave it hanging in mid-air. However, the new model of strategy planning requires a start to finish approach were the developers of the plan are the implementer’s also, in the process providing full ownership.

Engage the customer

The old adage, the customer is always right has been disputed time and again. But in the strategic planning process, your customer may very well be your greatest ally. Almost always, organisations spend countless hours developing strategies to win customers that they know nothing about, in the end creating strategies that either do not reach the right customer or reach the right customer the wrong way. That is why engaging the customers in the early stages of the process may very well be the shortcut to strategic planning success. Customers usually do not have the hard data that guides the strategy, but what they do offer is a clear insight into what they require from those that take the time to engage them during strategic planning.

Implement fearlessly

The true test of a successful strategy is how well it achieves its intended objectives. A strategy that does not achieve the goals set forth during creation will be considered unsuccessful by all standards. In order to achieve the objectives, teams need to implement well amidst all the unforeseen challenges that threaten to halt any progress made. There is need in this case for implementer’s to push through the barriers and take risks to achieve the end goal. In some cases, this may mean being prepared to change parts of the strategy or all of it during the very challenging and uncertain implementation phase.

The conclusion

In order to achieve exceptional success, we need to constantly move towards a better informed approached to our strategic planning process that not only makes the process easier but also effective. Use the steps above in your quest to develop a good strategy today and transform your business.

By Royd Kapesa – Business Development Executive

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