Strategic planning is a step by step process with definite objectives and end products that can be implemented and evaluated. Very simply, it is a process by which we look into the future, paint a picture of that future based on current trends, and influence the forces that will affect us.
Strategic planning looks three to five years ahead. It charts a definite course based on strong indicators of what the business environment will be like in those years.
Indicators include census demographic statistics, economic indicators, government policies, and technological advances. They reveal strong trends regarding changes in lifestyles and the economic and political climates, which are important factors influencing the facilities planning and management industry. Some of these trends are potential opportunities, some potential threats, and some are both. Examining the possibilities and formulating strategies to meet the challenges can help the organization take full advantage of opportunities and minimize threats.
The process is about planning because it involves intentionally setting goals and developing an approach to achieving those goals. The process is disciplined in that it calls for a certain order and pattern to keep it focused and productive. The process raises a sequence of questions that helps planners examine experience, test assumptions, gather and incorporate information about the present, and anticipate the environment in which the organization will be working in the future.
Finally, the process is about fundamental decisions and actions because choices must be made in order to answer the sequence of questions mentioned above. The plan is ultimately no more, and no less, than a set of decisions about what to do, why to do it, and how to do it. Because it is impossible to do everything that needs to be done in this world, strategic planning implies that some organizational decisions and actions are more important than others – and that much of the strategy lies in making the tough decisions about what is most important to achieving organizational success.