Assignment: Write a two paragraph (or more) analysis of the following question – Which is more important, a well thought out strategic plan or a comprehensive strategic planning process? What does strategic planning look like in your organization? Describe your experience, both good and bad, with strategic planning.
Materials that may be helpful with this question includes the Harvard Business Review article “Strategic Plans are Less Important than Strategic Planning” and Gamble, Chapter 1 in the textbook pages 7-8, and Gamble, Chapter 2 pages 25-27.
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Then, read and post a reply to two of your classmates regarding their thoughts on strategic planning. Is their experience with strategic plans and strategic planning similar to yours or very different? What thoughts can you share with your classmates about the strategic planning process?
Rule: Post one (1) original thread and two (2) replies to other threads for a total of three (3) posts on the discussion board. Your original thread must be unique to you and your employer’s circumstances. You can discuss either a current or a former employer.
Example: Strategic Planning and Hurricanes at TAMU-CC:
When I joined the faculty of Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, I was immediately exposed to the University’s Continuity of Learning Plan. The plan, I was told, was to prepare for the eventuality of a natural disaster striking our campus, likely a hurricane, and the strategic plan for the University to respond. In very broad terms, the plan was for the University to evacuate everyone and to move all University classes online via Blackboard. Students would be moved seamlessly from a face-to-face classroom format to online, and there would be no disruption in the learning endeavor. The Continuity of Learning Plan was crafted by the University with broad universal input, and all students, faculty and staff were kept updated on the Continuity of Learning Plan and its updates.
In August of 2017, right before the start of fall classes, TAMU-CC was evacuated on short notice and the University was shut down. The TAMU-CC campus narrowly missed a direct landfall by Hurricane Harvey, and communities immediately north of Corpus Christi were devastated. Faculty, students and staff took property damage in varying amounts, and electricity was cut off to many. The University also lost power and backup power. More critical, key servers that ran University computing failed in the storm, causing key computing resources to fail. Fortunately, damage to the University itself was relatively minor, and major flooding of the campus did not occur, although minor flooding was an issue.
How well did the University Continuity of Learning Plan do? There was some good and some bad in the actual execution. On the positive side, the evacuation of campus and the securing of key University resources performed exactly to plan. Preparation prior to landfall was very close to the actual University strategic plan. On the other hand, two critical weaknesses were exposed. A majority of the University faculty were unprepared to execute the movement of their courses to Blackboard. Some of this was due to the timing of the storm; even faculty who regularly teach online were unprepared for fall classes. Nevertheless, an event during a regular term would likely have resulted in a serious outage of course availability. The second devastating weakness was the vulnerability of University computing resources to a relatively minor windstorm event. There was no storm surge in the Corpus Christi bay, and there were only tropical storm force winds on campus during hurricane landfall. University computing was out for almost one week after the storm.
This description closely mirrors the discussion in the Harvard Business Review article by Kenny (2016). In “Strategic Plans are less Important than Strategic Planning”, Kenny talks about strategic plans being a work in progress. That is certainly the case for the University Continuity of Learning Plan. The key for TAMU-CC will be to learn from the Hurricane event and to address the key gaps that we have identified. The textbook (Gamble, et. al, 2017, p.7) also talks about adaptive reactions to unanticipated developments. Because the University had a strategic plan, the President and key University staff were better able to respond to the aspects of the Hurricane event that were not foreseen. This enabled the University to reopen with only a one-week delay from schedule. Complete recovery from the storm will be a longer-term effort.
Gamble, J., Peteraf, M., & Thompson, A. (2017). Essentials of Strategic Management, 5th Edition. NY, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Kenny, G. (2016, June 21). “Strategic Plans are Less Important than Strategic Planning.” Harvard Business Review. Retrieved at hbr.org.