Strategic planning is one of the core elements that an organization has to implement to foster its productivity. It usually entails the formulation of strategies aimed at the transformation of organizational or personal resources into meaningful output, with the sole objective of enhancing productivity. Strategic planning and management is a continuous process that aims at the evaluation and estimating the various controls in the operating scope of the organization, it bases on a critical analysis of the current organizational status and formulation of appropriate strategies to propagate the organization to the desired levels in future (Alkhafaji 2003, p. 8).
The principal objective of this paper is to provide an understanding of the core issues in strategic management and planning, and the various ways in which strategic planning can be applied in personal development as an engineer. The first section of the essay provides an overview of the strategic planning models and processes that are deployed at the World Bank. The second section of the paper provides a discussion of how strategic planning can be applied in engineering practice. Also, the paper discusses Porter’s five forces model about strategic planning at the World Bank and its respective application in engineering practice.
Strategic management and planning involve the transformation of organizational resources into elements that can enhance the performance of the organization, mostly in their external business environments. Some of the effective approaches to strategic management include the specification of the organizational vision and mission, development of well-planned policies, and effective allocation of resources to facilitate the realization of the stipulated goals and objectives of the firm.
Organizations are in dire need of strategic planning primarily because of the unpredictable trend of the global market place and the increasing complexity of internal organizational management. The main objective behind strategic management is to uphold the competitive nature of business enterprise in the current dynamic and turbulent market place (Bradford & Tarcy 2000, p. 87).
The two basic contemporary events undertaken during strategic management is strategy formation and evaluation, and strategy implementation. Both steps are significant in determining the success of the strategic management process in the current global marketplace. In most cases, strategy formation precedes strategy evaluation. If strategy formation and evaluation are effective, the implementation of strategic management will not be a significant challenge to the organization.
Strategic plans need to put more emphasis on outcomes. An organization should therefore practice strategic management to continue to meet the changing needs of the business enterprise. The realization of this is through the evaluation of strategic management strategies using variables such as feasibility, acceptability, and suitability in the current business context (Goodstein et al 1993, p. 56).
The principal objective of a strategic plan is to outline the various ways in which the organization will meet its organizational goals and objectives. The dynamic nature of the business environment implies that the conventional budget-oriented and fore-cast based planning methodologies are not effective for organizations that are operating at the international level. This implies that the only solution to such impediments to adapt an effective strategic planning approach, which clearly outlines the core organizational objectives, and bases on an analysis of the internal and external state of affairs to devise a strategy, outline its procedural implementation, evaluation of the progress of the strategy and implement any change adjustments in the course of its implementation for the organization to stay on course towards strategic growth and development (Hill & Jones 2007).
A fundamental approach to strategic planning involves outlining the mission and objectives for the organization, environmental scanning, formulation of the appropriate strategies by current and predicted organizational needs, implementation of the strategy, and finally evaluation of the progress and control. The mission of the company normally serves as a guideline towards the formulation of the strategic plan for an organization.
Also, the mission statement for the company describes the organizational values that are not subject to change and outlines the purpose of the organization basing on the current and the forecast position of the organization. Depending on the mission and vision of the organization, the organization can adapt strategic objectives such as financial objectives, organizational reputation, increase in market share, and so forth (Porter 2008, p. 56).
Environmental scanning usually entails carrying out an internal analysis of the organization, with a prime objective of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. External analysis is also an important aspect of environmental scanning and entails the identification of the opportunities and threats to the organization. The external environment can also be analyzed; this is based on the framework proposed by Michael Porter, which is commonly referred to as Porter’s five forces.
Strategy formation normally depends on the output from environmental analysis, as a rule of thumb, the strategies should match the strengths and opportunities that have been identified, and at the same time put into consideration the various ways of addressing the weakness and outside threats. Strategy formation typically entails option generation, which involves the establishment possible plan of approaches.
The strategic formation is a sequential process, which begins by conducting a situation analysis for the organization, and evaluation of the status of the business enterprise, and carrying out an analysis of the competitors in the market place, which encompasses an analysis of both external and internal entities that affect the business enterprise. Having carried an analysis, objectives are set by the long term and short term business requirements. Vision statements are also drafted, financial goals and strategic business objectives are set up. The proposed objectives must put into consideration the results of situational analysis, as a result, facilitate the establishment of a strategic plan. The strategic plan should outline the process of the realization of the proposed objectives (Porter 2008).
The implementation of the strategy depends on techniques such as programs, resource allocations, and outline procedures. The strategic implementation of the plan entails putting the proposed strategic plan into action. Strategic planning depends on strategic evaluation, after the choice of an effective plan of approach that clearly outlines the goals and objectives of the contemporary strategic management. Some of the activities undertaken during strategic implementation include change management, evaluation of the limitations of the plan of approach and eventually analyzing the benefits or drawbacks realized after implementation.
It is also important to analyze economic factors such as returns on investments, the effects that the plan has on the overall productivity of the business enterprise. This normally entails transforming the resources at the disposal of the organization into meaningful results, which are equivalent to the organizational goals and objectives. How the formulated strategy is implemented plays an integral role in determining whether the strategy will be successful in meeting the organizational goals and objectives.
In a large organization, there is a possibility that the people who formulated the strategy are not likely to implement it, as such, it is vital to communicate the strategy to all organizational members and the fundamental logic behind its implementation. Cases associated with lack of understanding of the strategy and resistance by a lower level organizational member is likely to jeopardize the success of the implementation of the project (Rea & Kerzner 1997, p. 123).
Strategy evaluation and control involves monitoring the progress of the strategy and changes in cases where necessary. Strategic evaluation on the other hand investigates the effectiveness of the strategic plan. It involves carrying out a SWOT analysis to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the strategy. The evaluation of potential threats and opportunities is also important during strategy evaluation.
Strategy evaluation also entails the use of criteria such as suitability, feasibility, and the acceptability of the plan. The principal steps in strategy evaluation and control are the definition of the measurable parameters; definition of the target values for the identified measurable parameters; performing of the measurements; comparing the measured outcomes with the standard values; and making necessary changes in the course of strategy implementation.
As an international organization, the World Bank significantly depends on strategic planning and management to make sure that its operations and process at the global scope are executed efficiently (Goodstein et al 1993, p, 33). The following model represents the integrated model for strategic planning deployed by the World Bank.
As stated above, the World Bank significantly depends on strategic planning for its organizational functions in the global context to be executed efficiently. The mission, vision, values, expectations, and goals and objectives are the key elements that make up strategic planning in the context of the World Bank. The planning department at the World Bank has a key responsibility of offering the required administrative support in activities that are associated with strategic planning in the organization.
Also, the planning department has to ensure that appropriate resources are allocated for the various activities and that before resource allocation, the strategic plan must put into consideration the organizational values, its mission, and its vision statements. Communication between the various management levels is also a vital requirement for the success of the implementation of the strategic plans (Tracy 2000).
The vision in the context of the World Bank defines its future position in terms of its operations. The mission on the other hand denotes the purpose of the existence of the organization and normally outlines those strategies that the organization will deploy to achieve the vision. Fundamentally, the vision statement outlines what the World bank does and the prime purpose for its existence. The values are the beliefs that the stakeholders of the World Bank share, values play an integral role in determining the organizational culture, which in turn has an overall effect on the effectiveness of the implementation of strategic planning within the organization. An important aspect of the organizational values is that it offers the framework through which organizational decisions are made (Wittman & Reuter 2008, p. 77).
The application of strategic planning at the World Bank can be perceived in the context of decision making, in the sense that strategic planning is subjective to strategic decisions. The World Bank greatly relies on strategic planning to foster effective execution of the organizational activities and resource allocation for such activities. The World Bank primarily involves itself with the issuance of loans to developing countries. Since it is an international organization that can be equated to a business enterprise, the porter’s fives forces are subject to affect its strategic planning and the implementation of the proposed strategic plans.
A significant Porter’s force that affects the project undertakings of the World Bank is the barriers associated with the entry. This can be viewed from the perspective of the potential competitors entering the same market, basing on the fact that the market for issuance of loans to developing countries is free, and international organizations that have the same capacity can opt to do so, posing as potential competitors.
Such an approach is defined by Porter as barriers to entry and is a significant disadvantage for business organizations that are already in the market. In the context of The World Bank, restrictive government policies, this may be unfavorable for the World Bank to conduct business in developing countries that have bad governance policies. A typical example is a case when the government misappropriates such funds, and this has an overall effect on the strategic planning approaches deployed by the World Bank. The governments may also deploy restrictive policies that may hinder the effectiveness of strategic plans by the organization (Hill & Jones 2007, p. 45).
The World Bank also depends on strategic planning for coordination of the core organizational functions and processes. In the current dynamic organizational context about the scope of operations of the World Bank, effective strategic planning approaches must be implemented to foster effective organizational decision-making, which can transform the organizational resources into outputs that are in line with the organizational core values, goals, and objectives.
The fact that the World Bank operates on a global scale implies that it relies on distributes decision-making methodology, which is only effective when integrated with centralized strategic planning. The outcome of this approach is that organizational decisions at the various organizational entities will depend on the centralized strategic plan. An inference that can be made in such a scenario is that strategic planning offers a framework for organizational coordination and cooperation, which are critical success factors for the World Bank (Hill & Jones 2007,p. 67).
The aspect of strategic control in the context of the World Bank is important in ensuring that strategic plans are implemented effectively and that organizational goals and objectives are put into consideration. In summary, the usage of strategic planning is important in the context of international organizations such as the World Bank, in the sense that it plays an integral role in the management and execution of organizational processes.
Strategic planning is becoming a core requirement for all career paths and the engineering field is no exception. The effectiveness of an engineer is measured by his/her ability to devise appropriate strategies to steer organizational growth.
Almost all elements of engineering require strategic planning so that they can be executed in an appropriate and timely manner. The dynamic nature of technology and engineering implies that future trends are unpredictable, and only effective strategic planning can be used in addressing such changes in the global context. The present trend in engineering discipline entails the integration of the technical and management knowledge; this is evident during engineering project undertakings, which require immense knowledge of aspects such as project management (Wittman & Reuter 2008).
The underlying foundation is that the engineer must align both individual developments with organizational needs to foster success both at the organizational and individual levels. Present career requirements in the engineering discipline can be perceived as an integration of both managerial and technical expertise. This is due to fact that the efficiency of an engineer is not determined by not only his technical expertise but also his communication abilities and effective leadership and managerial skills. As such, strategic management comes in handy in the engineering discipline.
The significant benefit associated with strategic planning in an engineering career is that it streamlines the execution and implementation of individual tasks and long term projects by both individual and organizational needs. Effective implementation of activities is a core requirement to realize both individual and organizational success (Wittman & Reuter 2008). This implies that strategic management is one of the principal requirements of achieving success in career development in engineering. Automation of individual tasks is a critical success factor because of its efficiency and time saving characteristic strategic planning.
This is because strategic planning of project tasks streamlines the workflow and plays a significant role in saving the resources during the project implementations. Strategic planning implies that appropriate resources are allocated to appropriate tasks. This is an important strategy in fostering the effective use of organizational resources and ensuring that organizational processes are undertaken in an efficient and timely manner. Integration of the understanding of the critical success variables and strategic planning for the core success initiatives transforms into the realization of success and elimination of risk factors that may jeopardize the success of projects.
Planning strategy plays an important role to increase knowledge for individuals, which can be used in fostering effective decision making. The importance of strategic planning for the person is that it offers a framework for effective decision-making procedures. Decision-making is a core requirement in the quest to attain success in the current nature of the organizational context (Wittman & Reuter 2008).
Accurate decision-making is in line with the need to realize personal development through planning for strategy at the individual and organizational levels. Decision systems are primarily used to aid the decision-making process in ill-structured contexts, that is, in scenarios where the individual is not informed of the various variables that come to play when deciding to take a given course of action. Strategic management is more of a managerial tool that aims at ensuring the project’s success through ensuring effective and well-laid decision-making procedures. Strategic planning can be used to evaluate the impacts of the individual decisions towards success and the roles that they play to facilitate individual success.
The present times require efficient decision-making skills at a personal level to be successful in career development; therefore incorporating effective decision-making procedures when planning for strategic puts the individual at the top of the edge in the quest to achieve success during the project undertakings. Also, the development of a new ideology requires an effective plan of approach from the design phase up to the implementation phase.
This means that strategic planning is an integral element of an engineering career, especially in the current times, whereby engineers are required to know the relevant managerial practices to facilitate the successful implementation of engineering projects (Rea & Kerzner 1997).
The engineering career involves the application of project management skills in almost every phase of project development. As such, even the technical aspect of engineering requires strategic planning for the execution of such tasks to be effective. Strategic planning is a core requirement for attaining individual success and personal productivity in an engineering career. Most of the present-day challenges in engineering are due to a lack of strategic planning, implying that the only solution to such cases is to implement appropriate strategic planning methodologies to make sure that personal initiatives are executed in an efficient and timely manner (Bradford & Tarcy 2000).
The principal argument is that strategic planning is a core requirement for the realization of individual and organizational success in engineering in the current career development requirements. An important aspect of engineering is that it should not only be based on the present technical and managerial requirements of the organization but should also put into consideration the future requirements considering the effects of technological changes on the discipline and the strategic planning approaches. As an engineer, one should master the art of planning for the future, and forecasting the organizational requirements, to design items that can stand a considerable technological change before being rendered useless concerning its functionality (Alkhafaji 2003).
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