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Strategic Thinking: It's Your Future

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Present success is no guarantee of future success. If your organization hasn't developed the capacity for industry, market and competitive foresight, there is a danger you are relying on prescriptions which are rapidly becoming ineffective. Cultivate a "strategic thinking" discipline in your organization to define the parameters of future business pursuits and, more importantly, the investment priorities which will enable your company to exert a disproportionate influence on its chosen markets.

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Strategic Thinking: It's Your Future

  1. 1. quot;Change anything that gets in the way with effective- ness, no matter how long it has been in place. Methods are for today, not tomorrow; you can change them without impacting company progress.quot; -- Built To Last, by James Collins and Jerry Porras Counselor WISCONSIN SMALL BUSINESS JULY 1996 Number 103 Your Wisconsin Workforce Management & Employment Law Authority Strategic Thinking: It's Your Future By Paul Woerpel, Transformation Consulting Group, Milwaukee the quot;right thingsquot; is accomplished via a process called Strategic P resent success is no guarantee of future suc- Thinking. ! cess. Indeed, if your organization hasn't developed the capacity for industry, market What is Strategic Thinking? Many business leaders think of strategic planning as no P and competitive foresight, there is a danger you are relying on prescriptions which are rapidly more than conducting a SWOT Analysis (an evaluation of becoming ineffective. When you become complacent, you fail Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and writing a to clarify how you will compete and succeed in the future. Mission Statement. Too often these A prosperous and sustainable future is predicated not only efforts lead to a perfunctory re- on quot;doing things rightquot; (the operational excellence imperative), examination and reaffirmation of but on quot;doing the right thingsquot; (developing a clear, competitive quot;what is,quot; rather than what could • An importer of pri- be, or should be. The critical vate label footwear positioning: product, market and customer focus). Determining struggles as its cus- questions are simply not addressed. tomers Inside… Strategic thinking is a dynamic, exploratory process— increasingly order factory-direct. Taxes and Benefits: Keeping Control with Stock more qualitative than quan- Gifts; Deducting Business Interest; How the titative—used to develop • An inspirational IRS Defines Repairs, Page 2 the insight and foresight nec- catalog products essary to effectively focus and firm focuses on Employment Law: Review Your Employee leverage the organization's innovation, gener- Handbook Today to Avoid Costly Errors; resources. The process defines ating several new the parameters of future business spin-off opportuni- Develop Severance Packages Before You ties … but fails to pursuits and, more importantly, Downsize, Pages 3-5 the investment priorities which exploit its name Total Quality: How to Build Teams That will enable the company to exert recognition and a disproportionate influence in unique gift market Succeed, Page 6 niche. the markets it chooses to serve. ISO 9000: Should You Certify Your Small By systematically probing a Service Business?, Page 8 range of external issues and trends, your management team develops a collective perspective Comment: Political Positives, Negatives, Page 11 about the future. This understanding becomes the basis for a __________________________ conceptual model (strategic framework) which outlines what the Review WISCONSIN UPDATE business will do to achieve market leadership and control its own destiny. (That framework must be continually re-visited, Today in Pullout Section ! ________________________ tested, expanded and adjusted.) Continued on Page 2
  2. 2. ! MANAGEMENT! cess redesign? Meeting the Challenge Strategic Thinking, ! How much can you gain in As a business leader, how much of cont. from Page 1 resource leverage and strategic advan- your time and energy is spent focused on tage through merger or acquisition? internal issues… versus external What new technologies, products or Strategic Thinking businesses can you acquire that will opportunities, on present realities… ver- sus future Questions catapult your company forward and possibilities, on These questions should stimulate a leapfrog the competition? doing…versus • A small dialog among your senior managers that ! What will be the scope of your learning? insurance facilitates exploration of individual per- company's product/service offering in To what company fails to spectives, tests assumptions, and synthe- the future? What will be the extent and extent do you consider sizes shared understanding. the limits of your abilities to serve your struggle to play merger/acquisi- ! What trends… economic, social, chosen markets? by today's rules tion alternatives political, regulatory and technological… ! Which new markets or market … as opposed to expand its will shape your company's future? What segments will your company serve in to writing the volume rapidly will their impact be? the future? Have you defined niches rules by which enough to ! What opportunities, challenges where you can create customer value the game will leverage and threats will impact your current cus- and competitive differentiation? be played required MIS tomers? How will these then impact ! Which channels of distribution tomorrow? investment. you? will be utilized to reach chosen future • A screen printer Have you ! Answer the above question as it markets and customers? Can you reacts slower and your key applies to your Competitors. And then improve quot;speed to marketquot;? than the people developed to your Suppliers. How can you test/val- competitors to idate your conclusions? Requires Discipline a deeply shared, The answers to these strategic well tested view digital ! Who will be your company's com- technology that thinking questions help you determine of the future? petitors in the future? What will be the is transforming how to position the company, and What is your new forms of competition (replacement the printing where to focus resources to create both vulnerability to a technologies or products)? industry. short and long term success. Caution: competitor who ! What is the opportunity to rewrite Once having established a direction for better under- the rules of competition in your industry? the business, the challenge is to stick to stands industry, market and competitive Can you create additional leverage the chosen path. dynamics? through alliances with suppliers, cus- There can be a temptation to force Perhaps it's time to make strategic tomers, or fit opportunities to the strategy, or to thinking and planning a discipline in your even com- • A manufacturer petitors? abandon the strategy altogether. organization. of cast and ! What Certainly, even the quot;best laid plansquot; machined should be re-tooled from time to time… --Paul Woerpel, Transformation will be the Consulting Group, Milwaukee assists leaders in replacement parts unique skills but the place shouldn't be the weekly for the pulp and the formulation and implementation of strategic or capabilities operations review meeting. vision and organizational change. Phone: (262) paper industry on which you 691-4540. underestimates will compete? the impact of Are you paper recycling. investing to de- • A magazine velop these distribution competencies business foresees before your its customers' competitors? desire for a ! What single, regional opportunities source of supply, are there to but fails to satisfy cus- respond quickly tomer needs enough. (or customers) currently un- served? How are you anticipating their needs? ! What assets are underperforming and should be sold to create capital to invest in a new, more opportune thrust? Can you reduce cycle time through pro- 2 Wisconsin Small Business Counselor Reprinted With Permission

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