By Shazia Manus
Organizations that have mastered strategic planning combine smart strategy and a manageable execution framework to hammer out a blueprint for the future. The best of the best understand that strategic planning has been forced to evolve. Whereas many businesses of the past operated in steady, unchanging environments, today’s leaders are trying to achieve their objectives in a rapidly changing, dynamic and highly competitive environment.
Much of this rapid-fire adaptation is being driven by consumers; in fact we are now living in the age of the consumer. Therefore, the consumer has to be front-and-center in our vision, objectives, strategic imperatives, and tactics. This is true regardless of business orientation. Even those organizations that serve other businesses must keep the end consumer in mind. Great strategic planners know this and use the strategic planning process as an opportunity to both define and enhance the end customer experience, regardless of whether they are a business or consumer.
A simple way to begin is first define those channels, products and services your members engage with most often. These are the foundation of your brand and the elements you must get right every single time in a consistent fashion. Now, for each of these areas, ask your strategic planners to consider four questions:
- Does this give our members something they can’t get from the competition?
- Does this make their lives easier or better?
- Does this help our members solve specific problems they are dealing with?
- What more could we be doing on these fronts that we aren’t doing today?
The answers to these questions will define the ideal consumer experience you seek to create through your business model. Remember, the goal is not necessarily to build new products; rather it is to build experiences and establish powerful, timeless chemical memories of your brand for your consumers. Existing lines of business not capable of adding to the consumer experience should be revamped, divested or closed and the resulting investments diverted to lines that can legitimately compete and win.