Strategy

by Doreen Yarnold

Review and monitoring

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

Winston Churchill

Strategy is fluid, accommodating, flexible and responsive to market conditions, be that global, national or local. It cannot then also be set in stone, rigid, unchanging or detached from what is going on in your business today, right now. Constant review and monitoring will be necessary, tweaking and adapting where appropriate.

The variable future

Asking ‘what if’ questions is a key part of the strategic process. ‘What if’ questions allow a business to consider scenarios where other external factors could bring potentially harmful influences to bear and the contingencies that may need to be put in place in order to cater for these occurrences.

Changing environmental conditions need to be considered for their impact and their influence on the industry and the business in which managers operate. Sometimes, however, there can be opportunities hidden in what initially presents itself as a negative environmental change.

The Internet is a great example of this: many businesses initially dreaded the inception of consumers purchasing directly via the Internet, but those businesses that have embraced this change and now have on-line shopping within their portfolio of purchasing platforms are seeing increased sales via this medium. The businesses that are losing out are those that have not yet embraced the concept.

That said, there is an argument that suggests that the priority of businesses and boards should be around identifying and maximising opportunities, and that risks should be considered only to the degree that, if not monitored, they may hinder those opportunities happening, suggesting that ‘risk’ should not be the main focus.

Monitoring

Once the strategy and supporting plan have been agreed, together with the associated budget, the plan can be implemented. Of course, you need to have appropriate monitoring and controls in place so that, if the plan becomes unworkable, the above process can be revisited to revise the plan, perhaps the strategy and even, in some cases, the vision.

Measuring and reporting are part of the performance management process (see the topic on Performance Management).