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How Strategic Insight Can Ensure Business Survival

By Sharlene Fleming

The pace of change has become so frenetic that many people are actually becoming scared. Businesses and organizations that hope to grow and to survive need to take heed of every change in their operating environments, however. If they fail to do so, they cannot hope to survive. Long term planning must be based upon solid strategic insight. This means that future changes and trends have to be recognized and new plans must be formulated that take these changes into account.

Strategic plans are not truly detailed plans that contain target dates and specific outcomes. Rather, strategies are long term directions. They are the result of a study of the various environments that have an effect upon the organization. Of course, these environmental changes often do not happen exactly as foreseen and that requires that strategies are adapted continuously. Once it becomes clear exactly what the nature of the expected changes is, tactical plans can be developed.

There are an astonishing number of factors that may have a future impact on the ability of an organization to survive and to proper. Technology changes at a dizzying rate and has a direct influence upon the way business is done and on consumer demands. Global political and financial fluctuations also impact upon all organizations, regardless of size. All the potential changes need to be researched and studied.

It is already a very difficult task to be brave enough to list the expected future changes in the environments within which an organization operates. Having a list is simply not good enough, however. The next step would be to determine the way in which each of these changes will have an influence upon the operating environment of the business. In some cases the change can be utilized to the profit of the business and in other cases the change may actually pose a threat.

Many businesses find it extraordinary difficult to perform an objective SWAT analysis. Many analysts, especially if they are employed by the company concerned, feel that it would be disloyal to list weaknesses and at the same time they tend to exaggerate the strengths of the business. That is why it is often better to hire independent strategists.

A strategy hardly ever provides detailed action plans. That is because those at the top levels of the organization are not normally concerned with details. Instead, the strategy is passed on to the next level down, where further analysis is performed. This process is repeated downwards until very detailed action plans are formulated at operational level.

It is imperative for any business or organization to have an operating strategy. If it does not, it is sure to flounder because it will forever be reacting to unforeseen changes in the environment. This is not only true for large corporates. Of course, there are always unforeseen developments and it is therefore necessary to update a strategy on a regular basis.

Gaining strategic insight requires years of experience and an intimate knowledge of the various fields that influence an organization. It is certainly not possible to predict the future but it is most certainly possible to spot trends and to make intelligent deductions. Most companies make use of external consultants for this type of analysis.

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