In case you didn’t already know, the entire purpose of this type of study guide is to help students prepare for and take the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) for Management in their first two years of college. A lot of people think that this is just an overly difficult endeavor. And they’re right to think that way, if their high school or college teacher has been teaching them anything about this stuff. This is not rocket science, though. It does get quite complicated, but anyone who has taken even an introductory course in applied learning who knows anything at all about strategic management can pretty much understand what is being said here.
First of all, it’s important to realize that a person doesn’t have to be a strategic thinker to be able to manage. Indeed, this is probably one of the most fundamental points of all the chapters of The Art of Business Management that I have ever read. There is no such thing as a dumb question. If a question makes you feel inadequate or stupid, then don’t respond to it. Do what you must do, and then determine why you’re doing it.
Secondly, when we’re talking about planning, we have to make sure we’re using the same terms that everyone else seems to be using. The term “integrated strategic planning” refers to a very real way of approaching business analysis and planning that I have heard more than once employed by smart college kids in discussion with me. These kids use “holistic” planning as a way to get to the “whole picture.” And I am told, after having explained the whole concept of integrated strategic planning to them, that they are absolutely correct.
Thirdly, the concept of “integrated strategic planning” is not so foreign to me that I find myself having to defend it every time someone asks me how I came to such a conclusion. It just seems very simple to me. The goal of a company should always be to maximize the overall effect of its effort. A well-managed business has more potential profits, and employees work more productively if their jobs are easier. This, in turn, leads to overall increases in customer satisfaction. It’s a “win-win” situation for everybody.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, it allows for a more realistic assessment of the costs of any given strategy or initiative. There are going to be some strategies which are clearly “costlier” than others. There are also some which seem to produce the greatest benefit-cost ratios. It is simply a matter of deciding which ones will work best for the given set of circumstances. If you take into account all of these facts, it becomes a very simple matter to take a cost-benefit analysis of your planning efforts. I would submit that it is much easier to do that when you have a framework to work from.
Finally, an integrated strategic planning process allows for transparency. Once the strategy is implemented, there is little reason for internal or external review or participation. There is therefore no reason to retain those involved in the process or to learn new information about the strategic initiatives. The implementation of integrated strategic planning can thus help reduce internal costs and increase efficiency.
As a professional consultant, I can tell you from experience that implementing a good strategic planning process is one of the best ways to increase profits and cut expenses. If you are a manager or a small business owner, I would encourage you to look further into how this process can greatly enhance your strategic planning efforts. As mentioned before, this type of planning tends to be much more effective and cheaper than traditional approaches. Also, it tends to provide the greatest benefit-cost ratio. What are you waiting for?