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Determination of a goal would be the first responsibility undertaken by strategic management. In order to determine which type of strategy to initiate, one should develop a thorough understanding of the competitive environment as well as a clear understanding of the organisation and what they wish to achieve in the future. The benefit of planning is that it helps an organization identify its objectives prior to taking action in achieving them. An important aspect in strategic planning is that the organization should have a clear understanding aboutits goals, priorities, and the direction of future development. Strategic planning brings about a vision for the future state of the organization and it brings confidence to the future actions, as it will be consistent with the organisations future ahead. Strategic planning also helps build or increase the strategic management capacity of the organization by involving the senior management directly in the planning process. However involvement is not enough, the executive management must be unified and dedicated to the strategy and to the process of development. Unity and dedication is there by most the important factor in the implementation of a strategy. In the implementation of a strategic plan an organisation must have a collection of clear, unifying, and integrative pattern of decisions. This means is that the strategy development process should be sensible and everyone involved in it should have a positive approach towards it, if everyone does not share the same goal the organization will end up with no progress in its planning process. Another key point is the means of establishing an organisations purpose in terms of its long term objectives, action plans and allocation of resources (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Toru Hatano and TimoSantalainen, 1995). By taking this approach the organisation will have a clear vision and direction to which it wishes to approach in the near future. In order to achieve their vision the organisation would have a sequenced step by step approach in achieving their goals. Another factor that is of great importance is identifying an organization's competitive field. The executive management should understand what the organization really is; this could also help differentiate themselves from other competitors in the same market. The next factor would be the organisations ability in responding to internal strength and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats in order to develop a competitive advantage (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Toru Hatano and TimoSantalainen, 1995). The organisation should understand their own strengths and weakness within their own sub division departments; so they would know how to strategically approach their target market. By doing so each department could be competitive by trying to differentiate themselves from competitors. Another key factor is to first understand the system of differentiating executive and managerial tasks and roles at co-operate functional and business levels and functional levels (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Toru Hatano and TimoSantalainen, 1995). When the managers and employees have a thorough understanding with each other this would also help them cooperate and work efficiently, which in turn would allow them to achieve the goals which are set by the executives. The final process is identifying the economic and noneconomic contribution the organization will make to its stake holders. This factor is the most important factor that relates to an organisations external factor such as the various suppliers distributers and customers. If the business is unable to obtain attractive returns on investment customers will lose faith in the organisation and begin to pull out. Therefore the organisation will lose many of its investors and this could further lead to a decline.
The factors examined above are general for the whole of the organisation in a strategic planning process. For further understanding of strategic planning it can be compared and contrasted with Porter's five forces. When considering Porters five forces certain authors mention that strategic thinking is a particular way of solving strategic problems at the individual and institutional level combining rational and generative thought processes (O'shannassy, 2003). The article suggests how organisations can think strategically to gain a competitive advantage over rival competitors, and to achieve this it is a combination of a team effort by the internal as well as external stakeholders in the organisation from the board of directors down to line management. One of the most important strategic planning processes as mentioned earlier is when one can identify each individual task and role, by doing so managers and employees may work efficiently and cooperate with each other better. The author in this journal further elaborates and speaks of how strategic thinking emphasises eastern, generative, creative, synthetic, divergent thought processes (O'shannassy, 2003) and how this could be used as a starting point to establish the organisations purpose and long term goals. Furthermore Porter's work has been of great influencein the development and formulation of strategy, in such cases Porter has argued that there are three basic strategies that a firm can choose to gain competitive advantage, these are: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. Each of these strategies implies different skills. The key factor here is in the understanding of the type of market the organization will be waiting to get involved with (Siddhartha S. Brahma, HaimantiChakraborty, 2011). Emphasizing on the organisations focus indicates that the organisation should have a direction and a goal for it to strive and succeed for e.g. some organization achieve this by interviewing employees to better understand the basis of employees' commitment to the company and their acceptance of this vision and mission(Siddhartha S. Brahma, HaimantiChakraborty, 2011). By doing so the organisation can control emergent strategies through the participation of its employees in a bottom-up manner, and also a more creative thought process could also be develop so that they could differentiate themselves from other competitors and use this as a competitive advantage. In the new era of management the "informal" organization has evolved into individuals and groups sharing information and collaborating (Ramon M. Henson, 2012). If there is a lack of this collaboration it will lead to an organisations lack of creativity and unity and this could lead to its downfall. For a market to sustain competitive advantage over its rivals 'cost leadership' or 'differentiation'(Siddhartha S. Brahma, HaimantiChakraborty, 2011), will be the most dominant factors, if an organization can tip any of those factors to ones favour it will have the ideal competitive advantage. An increase in in technology, globalization and the combination of the a short product life cycle have led companies to realize that to compete as an individual in today's fast changing market is challenging. Therefore to sustain in a competitive market position they mustimplement focussed strategic planning for an effective and efficient Supply Chain (SC) to achieve better results (Siddhartha S. Brahma, HaimantiChakraborty, 2011). Analysis shows that organisations such as Wall-Mart and Dell who have implemented such strategiesregarding their supply chain have reported significant savings and improvement in their operations (Siddhartha S. Brahma, HaimantiChakraborty, 2011).The positioning and marketing of products in order to maximise returns becomes the main objective and the determination of a strategy.
However Porters forces do not always help in an organisation strategic planning process. Sometimes managers are using a new approach which uses a few straight forward, hard-and-fast rules that define direction without restricting it. Like all strong strategies, strategy as simple rules is about being unique. But that difference does not come from strongly linked activity systems or leveraged core skills, as in traditional strategies. It comes from focusing on key strategic processes and coming up with simple rules that shape those processes. This is the secret of companies like Yahoo! is strategy as simple rules (Eisenhardt, K. M., &Sull, D. N. 2001).In market confusion managers see this as the greatest opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. They recognize the need for a few key strategic processes and a few simple rules to guide them through the chaos (Eisenhardt, K. M., &Sull, D. N. 2001). However others believe that a Supply Chain Management (SCM) strategy should be incorporated in the organization planning process, other than for Porters competitive forces; however achieving effectiveness in a Supply chain from the stage of strategic planning to actual practice can be very challenging. To make SCs more efficient and effective, members may plan for and implement many strategies. Innovation, cost leadership, differentiation (Siddhartha S. Brahma, HaimantiChakraborty, 2011). Others believe that competitive success could be achieved through understanding the workforce and the employment relationship. This means achieving success by working collaborate with people in the organisation and giving them more responsibility and scope to their activities, this entails seeing the workforce as a source of strategic advantage (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Toru Hatano and TimoSantalainen 1995). Firms that take this different perspective are often able to successfully outwit and outperform their rivals. This clearly indicates that Porters forces do not always fit in with planning in some instances. However in the case of formation and gaining some knowledge about the competitive environment around the organisation Porters forces helps in providing the groundwork for a strategic agenda of action. From the comparisons made above it is certain that this model focuses on the external side of strategy, helping firms analyse the forces in an industry that give rise to opportunities and threats.
It is clearly evident that numerous factors come into consideration when a firm determines the strategic plan s wishes to adopt .In reality each strategic plan would be different from one another and according to the type of business. It is necessary for the strategist to identify the most important factors in relation to the situation under consideration, so that the most important factors in relation to the organisations strategic plan. Jenkins (2005) highlights the importance between the short run and the long run in determining strategy, by proposing that firm's competitiveness should be assessed not just with current performance but respect to their long term survival as well. Porter's five forces are a good analysis and reference for an organisation to develop and create a strategic plan even though it is mainly focuses on the external environment it is an important aspect that should be taken into consideration. However, in an organization that is not the only factor that one should pay attention to because the internal environment also plays an important role in an organisation. Therefore it is important that the correct vision and mission for the organisation are identified and determined, in order to start developing a strategic plan so that the organisation could achieve superiority and advantage amidst competitors, keeping in mind that, determining strategy is just the initial step towards success, and that formulation, implementation and management of strategy is also vital in order to maintain a company's success within an industry.