Strategic management is the process of specifying an organization’s objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve these objectives, and allocating resources so as to implement the plans. It is the highest level of managerial activity. It is not a task, but a rather a set of managerial skills that ought to be exerted throughout the organization, in a wide array of functions.
An organization’s strategy must be appropriate for its resources, environmental circumstances, and core objectives. The process involves matching the company’s strategic advantages to the business environment the organization faces. One objective of an overall corporate strategy is to put the organization into a position to carry out its mission effectively and efficiently.
A good corporate strategy should integrate an organization’s goals, policies, and tactics into a cohesive whole, and must be based on business realities. Business enterprises can fail despite ‘excellent’ strategy because the world changes in a way they failed to understand. Strategy must connect with vision, purpose and likely future trends.
Strategic management can be seen as a combination of strategy formulation and strategy implementation, but strategy must be closely aligned with purpose.
Strategy formulation involves doing a situation analysis: both internal and external, both micro-environmental and macro-environmental; setting objectives–crafting vision statements (long term view of a possible future), mission statements (the role that the organization gives itself in society), overall corporate objectives (both financial and strategic), strategic business unit objectives (both financial and strategic), and tactical objectives; and planning. This three-step strategy formulation process is sometimes described as determining where you are now, determining where you want to go, and then determining how to get there. These are the essence of strategic planning.
Strategy implementation involves allocation of sufficient resources (financial, personnel, time, technology support); establishing a chain of command or some alternative structure (such as cross functional teams); assigning responsibility of specific tasks or processes to specific individuals or groups; managing the process–monitoring results, comparing to benchmarks and best practices, evaluating the efficacy and efficiency of the process, controlling for variances, and making adjustments to the process as necessary. When implementing specific programs, this involves acquiring the requisite resources, developing the process, training, process testing, documentation, and integration with legacy processes.
Strategy formulation and implementation is an on-going, never-ending, integrated process requiring continuous reassessment and reformation. Strategic management is dynamic. It involves a complex pattern of actions and reactions. It is partially planned and partially unplanned. Strategy is both planned and emergent, dynamic, and interactive.
For strategic management to be a success, organizations must not fail to follow the plan. They should be guided by the set of objectives that they have formulated, envisioning a prosperous business. They should strive to understand customers more thoroughly. Over-estimation of resource competence and under-estimation of time requirements should be avoided. Employee and senior management commitment should be obtained through keeping communication channels open and healthy. Most crucially, the management should acquire the ability to predict environmental reaction and manage change.
Copyright 2007 Ismael D. Tabije