This paper discusses different themes that appear in different specific readings and study notes for the four weeks. The paper further analyzes and criticizes the themes; it also synthesizes what I have learned with respect to the themes. The end of this paper provides a conclusion.
The Major Themes in the Readings
There are a number of themes that have come out from the readings of the past four weeks. One of the themes is about the standard strategic planning approaches that are used by different organizations (baby & Ionescu, 2012; Smith, 2013). All the considered readings have provided clear explanations on the specific steps that an organization should take in coming up with an effective, comprehensive strategic plan.
These steps chronologically include, the development of products for the organization, the identification of all customers of the organization, an inventory analysis through a SWOT analysis, the development of a clear vision statement to indicate where the organization wants to be within a specific period of time, the identification of values that reflect the aspirations of the staff members, the identification of goals for every identified product or service, the development of performance measures to help monitor the operations of the organization as works to achieve its vision, the creation of specific strategies through which the organizational objectives are to be achieved, and the establishment of assessment mechanisms to gauge whether or not the organization is on course to achieve its objectives (barbu & Ionescu, 2012; Smith, 2013; Yuksel, 2012; Bryson, 2011; Rainey, 2011).
The other theme is about strategic planning in the public sector. In this regard, the readings have revealed that successful strategic planning process in a public organization requires that a top manager plays a crucial role by establishing a strategic direction for the organization (Wart, 2012; Bryson, 2011). Moreover, the readings have resourcefully shown that strategic planning in the public sector is mainly concerned with the provision of public goods and services, and are guided by public policies (Ugboro, Obeng & Spann, 2011).
Again, another theme is strategic planning in the non-profit sector. In this case, the readings unequivocally identify the strategic planning process in the non-profit sector as being different from that of the public sector (Allison & Kaye, 2011). According to the readings, planning in the non-profit sector mainly focuses on the provision of services to a small section of the country, while planning in the public sector has to consider the country wholesomely (Clark, 2012; Flores, 2011; Newby, 2012). To this end, the readings provide distinctions found between the public sector and the non-profit sector (Kumari, 2013; Naab, 2012).
The Major Themes in the Study Notes
It is important to note that the themes that have appeared in the readings are the ones found in the study notes, the details of which have been presented in the previous section. These include steps of strategic planning, strategic planning in the public sector and strategic planning in the non-profit sector. However, the study notes have identified another theme that is not clear in any of the readings, strategic management. Strategic management is the process through which an organization matches its resources and capabilities to the specific needs of the external environment so as to achieve competitive advantages (Guillemette & Pare, 2012).
Furthermore, strategic management is about the analysis of the situations that face an organization; therefore, a strategy is formed to deal with such situations (Guillemette & Pare, 2012). In this regard, strategic management has been described to include the main initiatives that are taken by an organization’s top management on behalf of shareholders (Guillemette & Pare, 2012).
Analyses and Criticisms of the Themes
In this section, the themes of strategic planning and strategic management are analyzed and criticized. Therefore, strategic planning is a tool that can be utilized by an organization to establish priorities, direct resources, reinforce operations, ensure that workers and other stakeholders work toward common goals, create agreements as to the anticipated results, and evaluate and adjust the direction of an organization with respect to change of the prevailing environment (Altinkurt, 2010). An efficient planning process establishes the direction an organization wants to take, the action required to make progress, and how the organization is to determine whether or not it is on path to achieving its goals (Altinkurt, 2010).
However, strategic planning has its own weaknesses. From the outset, it is important to note that a substantial number of strategic plans do not work, because of lack of focus, insufficient resources, poor understanding of the strategic plans, lack of proper accountability, lack of flexibilities during implementation processes, and lack of follow-ups (Altinkurt, 2010).
A strategic management process is closely related to that of strategic planning (Clarke, 2012). However, strategic management is an ongoing activity; it is the all-inclusive collection of continuing activities and specific processes that an organization use to methodically synchronize and align resources and actions with organizational vision, mission and strategy throughout the organization (Clarke, 2012). Strategic management is a tool that an organization can use to transform a static plan into a system that guarantees strategic performance responses to the process of management (Clarke, 2012).
Nonetheless, strategic management can be criticized on a number of grounds. Notably, it is a process that requires an organization to anticipate the future business environment before coming up with concrete plans (Clarke, 2012). This implies that if the future does not unfold as expected, organizational strategies may be invalidated (Clarke, 2012). Besides, strategic management is often designed to provide long-standing benefits, a situation that implies that the process cannot be used to address an immediate crisis within an organization (Clarke, 2012).
A Synthesis of the Acquired Knowledge
I have learned two main things about organizations. First, I have learned that strategic planning is very significant as far as the achievements of organizational goals are concerned (Rainey, 2011). Despite the significance of the strategic planning process to an organization, I have also learned that the process has some weaknesses, which, among other things, include lack of accountability, insufficient resources and lack of an understanding of the plan (Altinkurt, 2010).
I have also learned about strategic management as an important tool that complements strategic planning processes (Clarke, 2012; Rainey, 2011). In this regard, while a strategic planning process is discrete, the process of strategic management is continuous. In many cases, strategic management is important in terms of facilitating the achievement of the goals that may be outlined within a strategic plan.
However, I have discovered that the strategic management as a process is cost-intensive and requires a lot of resources to undertake (Clarke, 2012). Moreover, the success of a strategic management process is based on the ability of an organization to accurately anticipate the future (Clarke, 2012).
Strategic planning and strategic management are very important tools that can be utilized by organizations to provide strategic directions and approaches to achieve their goals and objectives (Smith, 2013; Bryson, 2012). However, despite the importance of both tools, they are limited in terms of accountability and resources among other factors (Clarke, 2012; Altinkurt, 2010).
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