Strategic planning – is it essence vs. techniques?

In The Will to Power, Nietzsche says that: „Specific characteristic of our nineteenth century is not victory of science, but victory of scientific method over science.” Is this happening to strategic planning? Are we more and more focused on technical aspects of the strategic plan and less and less on the content, the essence?

The essence of the strategy is to define what is to be achieved. It should be formulated clearly enough so that it is possible to prepare operational part, i.e. to elaborate how to achieve the defined goals. In practice, it often starts with collecting and analyzing data, to get comprehensive and clear picture where we are, what is our situation like. Then, we usually identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the well-known SWOT analysis, and using this as a basis we focus on strategic goals. From that point on, process is more and more technical, focusing on how different elements of the strategy are formulated, are they harmonized with each other and similar. And that is needed, no doubt about that, especially if the implementation capacities are limited and need more detailed instructions on their role in implementation of the strategy. From the point of view of increasing probability of achieving defined goals through implementation of precisely described actions, this approach is fine.

But what is it that we are trying to achieve? Is focusing primarily on available resources a good starting point for defining strategic goals? Are we taking into account changes in the environment, global processes that do affect developments in local economies and in local communities in general, in companies, too? How can we get needed information that should be used to identify relevant developments in the environment, the ones having impact on development of the, let’s say, local community, the ones that smaller local communities must fit in, lacking capacities to influence these developments? In practice, strong determination of local leaders and entrepreneurs proves to be an important factor in defining and especially in achieving specific change, but how can we detect this determination? And how local leaders and entrepreneurs are defining their agenda, on basis of what?

All these questions are addressed to some extent, but it is hard to say if that is enough. In the strategic planning processes, energy is mostly used for creating a document of determined structure and defining all elements so that they meet certain methodological requirements. And that is all fine, as long as strategic goals are well defined. If they are not, we shall have a well-prepared plan to achieve something that is…well, something. Maybe the best for the community, or company, maybe not. And we will invest our energy and other resources in achieving these, at least questionable, goals.

Also, observing and considering rapidly changing environment and focusing more on defining the strategic goals, i.e., focusing on what we want, which also includes defining what we don’t want, should result in better strategies, better use of resources and achieving better results from the point of view of the wellbeing of the community.

Niče, Fridrih. (2012). Volja za moć. Beograd: Dereta, stranica 291

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