Monday, February 09, 2009

Strategic Planning - "What's the point, in a recession?"

Some audience members at my speeches have asked me if it really makes sense to continue with their strategic planning activities during a recession.
My first reaction is "of course!", but let's take a closer look at the reasons why you might not start strategic planning (or continue it...) during a recession.

1. Strategic planning takes resources.

This argument is part of the general "downward spiral" attitude - cut everything that costs money, the conventional wisdom goes, and you will end up with a profitable business. I suspect the airlines have been trying to figure out how to get rid of passengers for years, since they cost money...and that is exactly the point. Almost everything worthwhile in your business requires time and money to maintain its value. The same is true of your strategy. This is not less true during a recession - in fact, there is no better time to look for strategic opportunities as your competitors make their strategic choices based on fear and knee-jerk reactions. True, you may want to spend LESS on your strategic planning than in the past - but that is a good reason to use the SSP framework.

2. Strategic planning focuses your attention on the big picture when you need to worry about staying in business.

If you are in imminent danger of insolvency, this is absolutely true. If you can continue operations, then now is the best time to look at the big picture. Many strategic resources - people, technology, capital resources and acquisition targets - are more available and cheaper now than they have been in years. If you can take advantage of the opportunities, this is the perfect time to examine your strategy and pursue those that truly fit your business.

Beyond that, if your business model is truly broken, you have a very short window of opportunity in which you can completely change it in order to resume growth in the new business environment.

3. Strategic planning may limit you from pursuing opportunities when you need every nickel to turn a profit.

Again - if you absolutely have to have every dollar you can get in the door, you may need a very different look at your strategy. But if you are going to survive, the choices you make to get those dollars today will affect your business for a long time to come. Making good choices today will help you build healthy growth for the future - and not get you into the downward spiral of trying to be all things to all people as your company resumes growth.

The Center for Simplified Strategic Planning has a number of processes designed for every level of resource availability. My clients are CONSISTENTLY outperforming their competitors in a wide range of industries,
right now. If you are concerned about your ability to plan effectively this year, please contact me to find out how we can design a schedule that will fit your situation, and better prepare you for the years ahead.


Marcey Walsh said...

Great stuff, Robert, thanks! Hadn't thought about resources being cheaper than ever right now..great incentive to grow NOW.

Keith Barrett said...

How True...