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Is Long Term Strategy Really Dead?



A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Strategic Plans Lose Favor, indicated that long term strategic planning is falling out of vogue for many companies.  The article noted that with the dramatic changes in the economy and global market pressures long term strategic planning doesn’t always work.
For years Gazelles coaches have been teaching our clients that since the results of the first Iraq war the middle is gone. Long term strategic planning makes sense only in that it provides a target. No one can truly predict the future longer than 90 days and so it’s more important than ever to have the critical Strategic Disciplines in place to marshall all of your forces to impact the present. Plan your 3-5 year horizon, plan the year, and the focus on the next 90 days. In reality it is critical that you focus on your business, daily, weekly and monthly. That’s why the meeting rhythms in your business are so important. 
Competitor innovations, technology breakthroughs, economic changes, customer demands and behavior changes, demand that you stay in touch with the pulse of your business through regular and routine communication. Jim Collins noted in Good to Great and repeated this message in How the Mighty Fall. The key to growing your business continues to be Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought and Disciplined Action. Getting the right people to do the right things right requires strategic planning. We know from our Four Decisions principles that strategy is the one decision that can radically alter your company’s fortunes.
The message from Strategic Plans Lose Favor isn’t to quit long term strategic planning. It’s to recognize how the battlefield has shifted. Tactical moves must be watched more closely. The field of play has shortened. As Michael Gerber pointed out, “Businesses that plan always do better than businesses that don’t. But business that change their plans are always more successful than businesses that plan but don’t change them.”
This isn’t a shift in the need for strategic planning, but rather a recognition that the current climate should influence and possibly alter the decisions made in long term strategic planning.

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