By now we should all be familiar with the benefits of the Global Positioning System. It’s in the cars we drive, the smart phones we use daily, and in ways in which we are not aware. We can punch in a location or address and be rewarded with a detailed route of how to get to our destination and how much time it will take. Detailed maps and obstruction-avoiding alternate routes are provided. If this sounds like navigating through the implementation steps of a business strategic plan, it is exactly that. First, you have to have a plan.
Initially, strategy was in the domain of the military. Strategy was crucial to invading armies for the successful conquering of enemies, its lands, and its peoples. Likewise, strategy was key to defense against the invaders. Documented strategic planning by Napoleon, Genghis Khan, and General Eisenhower is now studied at military academies. The Book of Five Rings was composed in 1643 by Miyamoto Musashi, the famed duelist and undefeated samurai, and is considered the indispensable guide to strategic planning on the battlefront, as well as in corporate boardrooms.
Not every strategic plan results in success or military victory. History records many examples of failure, such as the famed Battle of the Bulge toward the end of World War II when the Germans defeated Allied forces in the Ardennes Mountains of Wallonia in Belgium. For the Americans, with about 840,000 men committed and some 89,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed, the Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest battle fought in World War II. Historians credit the defeat with Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with its own defensive plans, and a lack of good intelligence.
Thus, what military strategy teaches the small business community, now that strategic planning has become a buzz marketing tool, is this: Use of strategic thinking must be flexible with expected checkpoints along the way to assess goal achievement. More importantly, the planning targets must be reviewed and revised, accordingly.
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