Setting your organisation’s strategic direction is absolutely vital to overall strategic success. Get this wrong, and you run the very real risk of your resources being deployed where they have little chance of success.
Ultimately, it is the role of the Board to set strategic direction. With careful consideration of the benefit required by the beneficiaries of the organisation (discussed here), the Board must review the intelligence gathered and decide the overall strategic direction for the organisation.
It is worth noting here that the emphasis is on succinct identification. A good strategic direction might be, for example, ’Protect and expand our core business in our local market while undertaking controlled expansion into new markets’.
For the purposes of illustration, let us say that the beneficiaries are the company shareholders and their desired benefit is an increase in the value of their shareholding over the long term (5 years plus) but without too much additional risk.
Accordingly the Board decides that protecting and growing its core business in addition to investing shareholder funds in controlled expansion will meet the needs of the beneficiaries.
With the strategic direction now set, the Strategic Planning Team is now able to really start thinking about strategy because it has a clear understanding of what is required.
It is worth noting that it is often difficult to reach consensus on the strategic direction however, and this is yet another area where the services of a skilled facilitator can add real value. Also, there is nothing stopping the Strategic Planning Team from considering the direction and making a recommendation to the Board, however it should be clearly understood that the Board MUST approve the direction before the Strategic Planning Team progresses any further.
Setting your Organisation’s Strategic Direction is covered in depth as part of our Planning, Implementing and Managing an Effective Strategy programme.