An increasingly complex and more volatile MENA economy presents changes and challenges that have altered the context in which companies must undertake planning. These external difficulties are compounded by internal missteps including strained resources and employees; process inefficiencies; unreliable, low-quality data; and, often, a company’s own culture. Given the lack of stability and predictability in the new MENA reality, companies must learn to be as agile and adaptable as possible.
When talking about strategic planning, the first thing that comes to mind is the traditional meetings where the top management discusses the priorities and come up with a plan reflecting the set directions. Although this old approach still holds true in many businesses, most businesses adopt a more collaborative and flexible approach to strategic management. Yet, the task has neither become easier nor more effective and the flops occur only too often.
The issue about strategic planning is that the process is complex requiring a varied set of capabilities; vision, leadership, change management, continuous knowledge of the environment, communication, resilience, anticipation, creativity to name a few. But, let us focus on the most common issues that were found to hinder the strategic planning process:
Goal setting is not an easy task:
- Who should set goals?
- What information needs to be considered when defining the company objectives?
- How to involve the staff without undermining their performance in their day-to-day tasks?
- How to ensure that the objectives are realistic and will make sense in the future?
- How to find the right balance between setting very challenging objectives hard to attain and setting objectives too easy to make a difference?
- Evaluating the current situation: this step is intricate in the sense that company politics may come into play to protect the people currently in charge. A culture that is built on openness, transparency, and accountability is a pre-requisite for undertaking any diagnostic or audit.
- Designing the steps to bridge the gap between the current situation and the objectives is sensitive because its relevance highly depends on the success of the other steps namely objective setting and the diagnosis. Even if this is ensured, the hardest is still ahead. In fact, the researchers have shown that the implementation is the phase during which strategies fail most. The transformation will be achieved only if the management can show strong leadership to drive the team and ensure the appropriation of the strategic project.
Under the uncertainty prevailing today, it is unrealistic to rely on assumptions when it comes to formulating your strategy. At MTC, we protect our clients from embarking on a strategizing project that ends- up being a dead-end. We study all the scenarios possible and formulate an action plan for each outcome. Unlike many analysts who use scenarios to predict the future, we use them as a tool to keep managers alert about the alternatives that may arise, thus allowing for more flexibility and resilience if the customer’s business.