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A strategy is an organization's plan of action that is intended to accomplish a particular goal and objective. Therefore organizations do form and formulate a specific way and means through which to achieve their objectives and goals to remain in the market. Strategic management is an exercise involved with the formulation, implementation and evaluation of cross - sectional functions and decisions within an organization that assists its efforts to accomplish and realize both short - term and long - term goals and objectives. It incorporates the organizational procedures and processes that are adopted in the formulation of the vision, mission and objectives to be realized during certain duration of time (Brain 1997, p, 287).
It is also very important in the formulation of the organizational policies, development plans be incorporated in programs and projects intended to achieve the stated objectives through proper allocation of resources to implement the designed programs, policies, plans and projects. Strategic management involves the managerial activities that are designed to achieve the set goals and objectives through overall provision of the directional maintenance of the organization's vision and mission. The organizational practices should be in conformity with the management's expectations to achieve and maintain the strategic direction intended by the organization. Therefore, strategic management is broadly viewed as a continuous process in the control and evaluation of all the activities which the organization engages in through thorough assessment of the competition level in the industry and consequently formulates goals and strategies to overcome the existing competitors. As there are a lot of market dynamisms the organization ought to reassess the existing market strategy to identify how it has been carried out ad implemented. This assists to identify the level of strategic success and the extent, to which the existing strategy can be improved to meet with the current market situation, deal properly with the competitors, dynamic economic environment as well as changing socio-political and economic environment (Douglas, Robert and Chad 2009, p, 1316).
Strategy is formed by the organizational long term framework that outlines guiding principles and policies that drives the organization towards achieving its vision, goals and objectives. This framework should be formulated and designed to achieve consistent strategic goals and objectives as well as policy action of the organization. In order for an organization be on the course of achievement of its responsibilities, goals and objectives, several stages and procedurals need to be adhered to in order to maintain the intended directional suit of an organization. Strategic formulations form the foundational stages in this process. To achieve a proper strategic formulation, several stages and steps need to be considered. First, a situational analysis is paramount through self evaluation and competitor' analysis in the market involving both internal and external aspects in the context of micro and macro economic environment to capture all the influencing and relevant factors. Secondly, there should be a concurrent assessment of the objectives and goals set in an organization. The set objectives should be simultaneously implemented within a given time frame to capture both short run and long run objectives of the organization (Colin 2000, p, 130).
This process should involve the vision statement been clearly indicated, mission statement as well, overall corporate statement that the organization strives, formulation and review of strategic business departmental objectives as well as tactical objectives should be clearly stated and outlined. Lastly, after the situational analysis is thoroughly examined, the organizational objectives should assist in the formulation of a long term strategic plan with all the provisions that will assist the organization to achieve its intended objective. The process of strategy formulation needs to be incorporated with a marketing action plan. Marketing action plan involves the placement and execution of the necessary resources of manpower, financial, technological, time and operational support to fully achieve its objectives and goals. Market plan also involves consideration of alternative structure and dynamic methodology in the market. The distribution channel concerning specific responsibilities needs to be evaluated for success of the market plan (Brain 2003, p, 286).
Task and job specialization is paramount in the achievement of the specific tasks enhanced by division of labor either among groups or the relevant teams. However the whole activity process should be enhanced and managed and assigned to specific teams which will be answerable to the technical and management teams responsible for the operations. In strategy formulation, the ultimate goal is to have an upper hand in the market over the competitors to fully exploit the long term profitability of the company through thorough exploitation of the market competitive advantage. For maximum profitability of an organization, its working environment needs to be favorable and be in a position to cope up with the marketing conditions. Many organizations that do not formulate a survival strategy in the highly competitive market risk being selected against due weak market forces from internal configuration of the organization. Despite the environmental conditions favoring a business or an organization, an firm needs to formulate a distinguished strategy that will differentiate it from the rest of the organizations in the market, this is important for organizations to maximize their chances of survival in the market through achievement of competitive advantage (Gary 1991, p, 92).
To realize this objective, organizations should strive to maintain a unified strategy that balances its market operations and available resources to have a unique market position relative to that of its competitors. Furthermore, strategy has been regarded as the application of the available resource to meet and satisfy the market effective demand. To achieve this objective maintain strategic resources and directions, development budgets should be utilized and adopted in an organization. In addition, there should be plans laid down to achieve the organizational objectives stipulated in the budget. Therefore, a corporate strategy should be stipulated in a design aimed at achieving and maintaining the status quo besides exploring on new economic markets (Hilke 2003, p, 236).
Strategic process continuum
Many management theorists regard the proponents of a strategy as a logic linear process of planning and design. Other organizations and reformists believes that strategy is an incremental or a planned process
Incremental process of a strategy
Some school of thoughts advocates that strategy is not a linear process but involves refinements in frequent intervals and different times with an aim of rectifying any shortcomings that may be involved in the strategy. This is because, long term goals and vision of an organization ca not be set at once but involves a systematic step by step procedurals over a substantial long duration of time. Furthermore, the strategy designed and implemented by an organization should be changed with time to incorporate several and dynamic information and systems to continually advance and serve organizational objective properly. Although these systematic decisions incorporated are small steps, their consequential over relatively long period of time will cause a great impact causing major changes to the organization. Through adaption of the incrementalism process involving strategy modification to meet the ever changing environment in the business environment to enhance business sustainability, In the market situation, there is the time taken for strategy design and implementation referred to as strategic drift resulting to mismatch involving the organizational environment and the strategic decisions within an organization. However, this system step by step procedure in strategy development is not universally applied to all organizations due to structural difference and responses among different organizations. One weakness of incremental aspect of a strategy is its nature; it is mostly reactive implying that, it takes root and effect after a challenge and a problem have already occurred in an organization as opposed to before in order to be preventive (Timothy, James and Joseph 1999, p, 175).
Revolutionary process of a strategy
This was developed by incremental critics of a strategy who viewed it as proactive rather than reactive taking before a change in marketing environment as opposed to after a market reaction occurrence and then devising a remedy. Therefore, the proponents of this approach describe successful organization as those who react faster to the fast dynamic and changing environment. This revolutionary approach presents an organization with the necessary long term focus that is vital in sustaining organizational focus in long term to sustain the market competitive advantage that establishes an organizations position in the market. This approach also helps an organization to be a pioneer and a driver of market dynamisms when an organization considers operations and activities as not limited to the confines of its rules and regulations but at a market level. However, for an organization to achieve and maintain long term market success, the organization should combine and balance both the incremental strategic approach and revolutionary strategic approach in market operations. Combination of both strategic approaches enables organizations to maintain their market power while at the same time improving on the innovativeness to maintain a leading role and competitive advantage in the market (Robert and Hoskisson 1988, p, 609).
Strategy as an emergent process
Although strategies are conscious and deliberate actions by organizations, a market problem arises facing the organization when they exclusively concentrate on implementation of the planned strategies exclusively. This happens due to the nature of the planned strategy since it concentrates on the anticipated changes to occur in the market rather than dealing with problems, challenges and changes as they occur. Therefore, organizations are known not be effective in their focusing, predictions and judgments concerning the consequences of market environmental changes. Another challenge facing the organization is the management rating where a manger advocates and rewards adherence to plans rather than adaptations and flexibility to the changing market environment (Ramanujam 1989, p, 532).
This approach states that, planning need not to be planned too far but be a step by step procedure and put into cognizance the emerging issues of new and advanced market innovations maximizing on organizational opportunities while simultaneously reducing as much as possible all the potential threats facing the organization in the market set up. Further this approach advocates for entrepreneurial considerations besides rational approaches and decision making if the organization is to achieve maximum and optimal growth opportunities in the market. This approach view long term planning in an organization as the process that limits creativity among the employees within an organization. As a result the organization can not take opportunities from unexpected and new discoveries in order to maximize them and reduce threats. Therefore, formal planning as noted by this approach prevents and hinders emergence and utilization of unique strategies that can give an organization a competitive advantage in the market (Morhardt 1999, p, 346).
ICT for disaster management
ICT has been widely used by many organizations as part of their strategy to overcome the increasing market competition, optimize output, reduce threats as well as reduction of risks both to the organization and the wider public spectrum at large. The following case studies developed and discussed below analyzes the usefulness of ICT implementation by disaster prevention organizations to create awareness and avert the detrimental effects of both artificial and natural disasters. ICT plays a fundamental role in vulnerabilities, risk area and potential affected sections through production of geographically referenced analysis for instance through use of geographical information system (GIS). There can not be underestimation of negative impacts of disasters therefore mitigation measures are of paramount importance. Therefore employment of ICT technology facilitates communication of informational warnings to the potential victims for appropriate action. In disaster management, the worst times are the immediate consequences which require punctual actions within a remarkably short duration of time. The following evaluates a case study of how ICT may be used efficiently and effectively (Kenneth and Patricia 2001, p, 662).
Sahana Disaster Management (Tsunami 2004 and Pakistan Earthquake 2005)
The use of free and open source software (FOSS) was an approach used in the aftermath of Tsunami flood disaster in 2004 to offer solutions to post disaster situation in US. Sahana instituted an electronic registry for missing and found people. The approach is was designed not only to capture details for missing people but also for those searching the missing people therefore increasing the chances of reuniting. Unlike other organizational strategies and approaches are predetermined in the long run, this strategy was designed immediately during the 2004 Tsunami disaster which proved efficient in tracking missing people. This exercise was so efficient that it highly reduced the psychological strain on relatives and the victims since it provided shortest time possible for reuniting lost person with their relatives. ICT has also been adopted when the coordination exercise is underway. This approach was well used in Sri Lanka when over 300 Non - Governmental organizations were involved in rescue plans after the Tsunami disaster. In such a situation with scare resources, rescue and response efforts and activities should not be duplicated; otherwise, such duplication may result to competition among the involved organizations, congested supply area and routes, and double vaccinations even presence of saturation in some areas while in others needy areas are left neglected. These uncoordinated exercises can result to loss of good will (John and Donald 2003, p, 296).
The coordination of all these activities manually from a point or numerous points may not be efficient. Therefore an ICT solution can be best suited to coordinate activities easily and from a single central point. Institution of electronic organization registry is of immense contribution to coordinate all the involved activities in the rescue plan. ICT is another approach that could be used to record the exact locations and destinations of temporary camps in case of a disaster. This approach is efficient in the distribution and management of aid and enhances that all the affected areas are not unintentionally ignored in the rescue process. The Sahana electronic system recorded all the rescue camps, their locations and the population for proper coordination and aid distribution. This system may also be used to provide a GIS view concerning the location of a certain camp located in affected area (Constantine, Saeed and Marios 2006, p, 870).
Case Study two: Internet use in 1999 Turkey Earthquake
During this earthquake, telecommunication services were so dilapidated that it was almost impossible for people to access emergence and rescue services. The use of mobile and telephone services was limited due to the damage. Therefore internet was the only left way for communication in the affected region and the connections with the outside world. In the post disaster responses, internet approach was utilized in tracing information concerning missing people besides aid disbursement coordination activities. During disaster period, donor acts as distributors of the aid therefore maximally utilizing internet approaches more often since it proves to be only valuable resource. The Non - Governmental organizations involved utilized internet services to distribute discussion lists to donors and other agencies for them to identify the needy area and get directions to reach the affected areas easily. During the rescue efforts, Non - Governmental organizations formed a message link which acted as resourceful database which recorded the found people and their conditions where relatives could access them easily (Kathleen 2001, p, 309).
Strategy in an organization is paramount component that administrators and managers can not afford to ignore. For an organization to be effective in its operations, the use of a strategy is vital to secure a market share especially when there is stiff competition in the market. Organizations need to exploit and make use of every opportunity in the market to witness maximum and optimal benefits from the available opportunities in the market to avoid been selected out of the market. In addition, every organization needs to as much as possible avoid and eliminate all the threats facing the market environment for its products and services to survive well. All these market advantages can only be achieved through a conscious and intentional procedures and steps undertaken by the organization to position itself in the market environment. These steps and procedures are the marketing strategies needed by an organization. Due to variations of organizational structures experienced in the market, strategies do vary from organization to another depending with the management, operations and nature of its activities. It is through strategy that an organization distinguishes itself from the others and achieves a competitive advantage in the market.
There are other organizations that do not intend to use strategy for market benefits and profit maximization but do nevertheless institute strategies to help and streamline its operations. Such like humanitarian organizations, Non-governmental organizations which responds incases of disasters and natural misfortunes like earthquakes and floods. However their strategy of operation is not profit oriented by based on humanitarian grounds to boost their operations. In both situations, the use of information systems is paramount to the success of the stipulated strategy. ICT has increasingly been used in organizational strategies to achieve the maximum results. The market dynamisms have left ICT to be the efficient way of communication and coordination in every organization. Therefore use of ICT to facilitate achievement of a strategy or as a strategy itself is vital to the success of organizations.