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The elements your strategic plan is missing

Written on May 1, 2020

By: Rebecca Kerr, OSCPA communications intern

There is no “secret sauce” or “one size fits all” method when it comes to developing your company’s strategic planning framework, said Gregory Meredith, consultant with Brixey & Meyer's Business Advisory Services.

The greatest misconception people hold about strategy and strategic planning, he said last week during his presentation at the Columbus Accounting Show, is that “they conflate the two – they think they are the same thing and they’re not.”

Rather, as Meredith put it, “strategic planning is a process that leads, ultimately, to having compelling strategies.” He defined strategy as “creating a sustainable competitive advantage through the acquisition, organization and development of assets.” These sustainable competitive advantages must include assets that are valuable, rare and difficult to imitate.

The three main parts of a strategic planning framework are analysis, creation and execution. Once a company has recognized and acquired an asset, they can move on to organizing it to create more value for the company and add to its sustainable competitive advantage. When the strategic positioning is finished, it is time to deploy the assets. This includes evaluating the assets and deciding to enter adjacent businesses or move to new markets.

When it comes to strategic planning, Meredith outlined some key steps to building the framework. They include:

  • Use defined processes/frameworks – be methodical
  • Lay foundation – gather intelligence, insight and ideas
  • Define what you believe and what you want to accomplish before you decide what to do
  • Have your eyes on the prize
  • Remember that execution is more than 90% of the work

Once it is time to sit down and develop your company’s strategies, Meredith said it is essential to:

  • Aim to set 3-5 strategies
  • Focus on how you can make your desired future a reality
  • Write in simple but precise language
  • Follow the opposite rule: if the opposite of the strategy is absurd, you don’t have a true strategy

“Before you create your strategies, make sure you define your company’s doctrines (i.e. who you are, who the customers you serve are, etc.) so you can get your team aligned around those beliefs,” Meredith said.

So, while there is no “secret sauce” when it comes to developing a company’s strategies or strategic planning framework, there are many known ingredients to include in the mix.