BOARD TALK | opinion

Do Your Strategic Plan Now

By Prof. Enrique M. Soriano
Published August 01, 2023

Navigating a VUCA World and Strategic Planning

It's the time of the year where my governance work gradually intersperses with leadership and strategy engagements. The former focuses on creating a culture that breeds best practices, while the latter helps organizations navigate under a cloud of uncertainty known as the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguity) world. The other long-term benefits of strategy formulation are revisiting its vision, paying homage to its core values, and preparing the enterprise for long-term growth.

According to a research paper by John Ward, co-founder and principal of The Family Business Consulting Group, Inc., the term "strategic planning" typically refers to the process of developing a business strategy for profitable growth. It is designed to create insights into the company and the environment in which the company operates. It provides a systematic way of asking key business questions.

Such an inquiry challenges past business practices and opens the way for choosing new alternatives. The result should be a well-prepared strategic plan—usually a written document—that spells out specific steps to improve customer satisfaction, increase profit, and revitalize and prepare the company for the next generation. The plan also states the chosen mission of the business, identifies the direction of future growth, and describes programs that can help to achieve that growth. It thus indicates ways in which the business can compete more effectively.

On the other hand, Jane Hilbert-Davis, founder of Boston-based international business consulting firm Key Resources, defined strategic planning as simply creating a plan of action. Derived from its Greek roots 'STER,' which primarily conveys the idea of spreading out, particularly in a military context, and 'AG,' which signifies the act of driving or leading, the term 'strategy' evokes a vivid imagery of meticulous preparation and planning, especially when it comes to both battle and competition. It fundamentally differs from 'vision,' which represents an imaginative portrayal of a future — one that conveys a hopeful outlook of how things can be in the 'farther into the future' horizon, maybe around 10 to 20 years from now.

A strategic plan describes how you can get there. It's about making decisions in the present that will shape the future and usually involves a 3-5 year time frame. It is both written and lived — a plan that must go beyond mere words on a piece of paper stuck in a drawer and left to be forgotten. It should be thought through carefully and reflect flexibility and readiness for whatever the future may bring.

My intervention starts by profiling the current situation, employing financial, competitive or customer analytics, and interviewing senior managers on what they see as key strategic issues facing the enterprise. The interviews often uncover all sorts of business issues, but for family-owned businesses, problems can be expected to extend to personal issues such as uncertainty about succession, rivalries among family members, and discrepancies between position and performance.

The Powerful Benefits of Planning Ahead

In my years mentoring organizations, formal planning helps to prevent businesses from "undershooting" their strategic potential by articulating assumptions and perceptions and encouraging commitment from owners and key personnel. Its process provides a structure that helps managers assess the company's rate of reinvestment and ensure that the business is maintaining sufficient cash flow to move forward to a solid future.

Notably, planning ahead also plays a significant role in enhancing overall business knowledge within the organization and can serve as an exceptional training ground for grooming future leaders, particularly the founder's offspring who are expected to be his/her successors.

Additionally, since it requires the participants to answer tough questions about competition and reinvestment, the planning process provides one other key benefit: helping all managers and family members develop a common understanding—based on holistic assumptions—about the world in which the company operates.

Getting Started

To kickstart your efforts as business leaders in securing a solid future for your family-owned enterprises through a plan that will work, I invite you to join me in W+B Advisory Group's upcoming event on August 19, Saturday, at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria entitled "Family Business Continuity: Ensuring a Fail-Proof Succession Plan," made possible by Icon Executive Asia.

In this promising event, I will be sitting as the moderator and co-resource speaker to be joined by a distinguished panel of experts, each a powerhouse in their respective fields. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Josh Baron, an esteemed global thought leader and senior lecturer at Harvard, who will share invaluable insights on fostering business longevity by managing diverse family dynamics. We have also invited AGI CEO Kevin Tan and JG Summit President and CEO Lance Gokongwei, who are both successful successors of industry giants and tycoons.

Mark your calendars for August 19 and prepare for an enlightening session filled with transformative ideas and insightful discussions. To reserve your seat, you may register HERE. For additional information, please contact Marivi Estrada of ICON Executive Asia at 0977-835-5533.