By Todd Ballowe Published on 09-30-09
Does the Recession Make Your Strategic Planning Process Useless?

While many managers and business owners are focusing on tactical measures to ensure their organizations’ survival, experts urge businesses to maintain a strategic focus.

Reno, NV (PRWEB) October 2, 2009 – With little end of the US recession in sight, business owners across all industries are finding less time for  performance management and strategic management and instead focusing on short term survival, calling into question the relevance of strategic planning in an anemic economy. According to management experts, this illogical behavior will not only cause businesses to miss out on opportunities, it undermines the very livelihood they are attempting to maintain through such short term tactics.

During the earlier days of the current US economic crisis, economists and financial pundits debated about whether the country was indeed heading towards a recession, and how long that any such slump would last. Some predicted that the country would not, in fact, suffer such a succession of negative quarters, and that businesses and individuals needed not worry about surviving months or even years of economic hardship. Others on the other end of the spectrum called for businesses to tighten belts, make hard decisions and prepare for the worst.

Now that the country has spent more than a year enduring layoffs, government bailouts and the havoc that has been wrecked upon the credit market, many forecasters predict an even longer financial winter is upon us. In light of this, many businesses are forgoing long-term thinking and planning, and instead focusing just on today. Is survival the new goal for business, or does strategic planning still hold the same importance that it did before famine set itself upon the US markets?

I’m Too Busy

When consumers are not spending and money is tight, competition is increased, while at the same time additional staff is a luxury many businesses can’t afford. This effect, which causes many managers to spread themselves and their staff thin, endangers their long-term goals, says management expert Erica Olsen, of OnStrategy, consultants and developers of the strategic planning and implementation application, OnStrategy.com. “A lot of managers are complaining that they don’t have time to plan,” says Olsen, “but the reality is that you can’t afford not to take the time to plan.”

According to Olsen, strategic planning is even more of a necessity during a time of economic famine than during times of feasting. “Inefficiencies can go unnoticed when demand is high, but when your industry is fighting over fewer customers who are spending less, all of your imperfections become more threatening to your business.” Olsen goes on to explain that through thorough environmental scanning- an essential part of the strategic planning process, threats and opportunities can not only be identified but also capitalized on.

We Might Not Be Around In Six Months

Just making it this far through the recession doesn’t guarantee success, as many businesses are continuing to file for bankruptcy or quit operations completely. With so many stories of failure, Olsen says that many business owners she has counseled have admitted feeling like giving up. “When faced with a manger who says they don’t want to plan because they don’t think the company will make it, I respond saying that’s not the thinking that got you where you are. ” Olsen says that while these feelings are natural, they aren’t necessarily productive. By attacking the problem and making plans to dig out of the hole, managers can regain their positive outlook and chip away at the stress and depression that navigating a company through a recession can bring. “Strategic planning, and even more specifically recession planning is exactly what someone in this situation needs because they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

There is No Telling When this May End

Protesting the idea of strategic planning, other managers will claim that the uncertainty of the recession negates the strategic planning process. In response to this, Olsen cites the benefits of strategic planning and recession planning and their application to uncertain times. “Turbulent times are exactly the reason to plan,” says Olsen, “because strategic planning allows faster decision making, better management of resources, and a flexible framework that can adjust far faster than your completion can draft a course of action.” Right now, according to Olsen, both strategic planning and more specifically recession planning are of the essence. For assistance in strategic or recession planning, Olsen advises organization to consider OnStrategy’s web application and resource center at www.mystrategicplan.com.

About OnStrategy

OnStrategy is an easy-to-use software application that enables any organization, regardless of size and budget, to build a comprehensive plan, effectively and easily track goals, create professional reports for every stakeholder and monitor implementation all year long.

About OnStrategy

OnStrategy is a strategic planning firm that works with growth-oriented organizations to develop and execute their strategic plans. In addition to their online strategic planning system, the company is also a resource for other strategic planning tools, books, articles, workshops and facilitations.

About Erica Olsen

Through OnStrategy’s online client base and onsite strategic planning facilitation work, Erica Olsen has developed and reviewed hundreds of strategic plans for organizations across the country. She has also authored several strategic planning books including Strategic Planning for Dummies and was named Entrepreneur of the Year by The Business Report of Northern Nevada in 2007.