Strategic Planning

Last Update: January 02, 2015

I remember clearly watching the near historically correct film, Zulu. It was set in Africa and I was amazed to see how the Zulu generals had fought that final battle in the final scenes that day in January 1879 at Roeksdrift in South Africa.

The Zulu generals were positioned high up on a mountain overlooking the valleys far below; valleys made up of thick long grass and thorn trees, and valleys that swept up towards the farm- house where the 150 gallant British soldiers were entrenched fighting for their lives - trying to defend themselves at great odds.

The weather was perfect. No wind, and a clear blue- filled sky. The Zulu battle formation had formed below in its characteristically fashioned bull and horns format. The Zulu generals had a full view of their troops that lay spread out in various battle formations below, and just as clearer image of the entire enemies stronghold.

How could they lose?

In effect they had a near birds eye view of everything. No matter what was out there that could come against them on that day they would know about it before it could strike at their forces. How could they lose?

Then why may you ask, are we not taking this analogy to heart and using it in business - where the bloodiest of battles are fought every day.

The Zulu Generals were in a very strong position to overcome barriers and out manoeuvre the enemy at every turn. You could say that they had created and developed a good fool- proof strategy. Now in reality there is no difference between that battle and the battle of business that takes place in this modern era. Can you see a difference?

So where do you start in business - The concept? - or more aptly put; that proverbial thing called the idea.

In essence, millions upon millions of ideas are created daily on earth. In fact they drizzle down to the surface like little rain drops.. They litter the minds of men and women on a second to second basis.

Alas very few get past the concept stage and only a small percentage of those will go on to make the light of any day.

Many get defeated out on the battlefields of business anyway and most do not get out of their training barracks to make their way onto any battlefield. There is always more said about them than done about them.

So what is it that defines this rather misbalanced success and failure ratio?

Most of the time it is tied into fear of failure or fear of having that idea stolen, or, just going forwards with no plan tor a bad plan or.......or, or or. In fact there could be a multitude of things. The one that glares out like a candle in the darkness to me though, is the lack of a good strategic plan.

A strategy: a good honest well worked out, thoroughly researched plan of action. All coherently designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

No wonder that the word strategy is derived from Greek stratÄ“gia ‘generalship’, from stratÄ“gos and then when you look further into it you can dig to find the derivation link it links onto the word stratagem.

Stratagem

"a plan or scheme, especially one used to outwit an opponent or achieve an end."

So are we now looking at more of a specific method/system or plan, needing to be designed to bring about a desired outcome? A plan that now has to take into account that it has to provide for the ability to be able to outwit the barriers/opponents on the way to that desired outcome!

Could there even be more to this. More than we are looking for or have been prepared to look at. Is there something we have been missing that might begin to explain all these failures away?

The word strategy, in itself, is starting to take on a more decisive multi faceted meaning.

In my mind there is a lot more to this word strategy then we may have first thought. It is going to need a more thorough examination. After all without it we are almost certainly destined to fail! Time spent on truly understanding it will be well spent. Don't you think?

The concept of strategy now implies you have to carefully survey and research your idea. I am sure that those Zulu generals way back then would have sent a scouting party ahead the day before to check out the lay of the land and study the enemies position. Then and only then would they have devised a sound, well thought out plan that would have been able to detect, and locate, possible obstacles that could have easily outwitted the enemy.

Mmmm now that I think about it, there may well be a lot of action needed in developing a good strategy and then a heck of a lot more action in getting it implemented.

I thought back to those brave Zulu warriors leopard crawling through the grass towards the British. What would have happened if those generals had not pre thought out the lines of attack and could not have seen what was going to happen at every turn.

Now that sort of a battle plan would have been an excellent strategy. Maybe even fool -proof if it had been carefully and methodically put together. What kind of manager/creator/project manager are we if you do not or cannot follow steps similar to that?

In reality,without any MBA or business management training that 1879 battle had been surveyed, pre thought out and very well put into action!

Its generals, (managers in the same respect as a business would have today) could see all the pitfalls. They could even see them before they happened! They could outwit any part of an enemy. They had something which a lot of modern business practices lack. They had blind sided prediction. They had a clear three hundred and sixty degree panoramic view of all that lay above them, beside them, behind them and down below them. Now they could protect their men (their staff) and could just with a glint of their spears, using the reflection of the sun, warn their warriors below and by means of a code give directions for them to follow. I know that if I had been one of those warriors I would have felt fairly comfortable with that leadership.

So could a good strategy need as its core also an ability to be able out manoeuvre the enemy also?

In business the enemy are the barriers and hazards that can present themselves at a moments notice. One should have a firm idea and pre-rehearsed, well- oiled, and tested procedures in place to combat any and all of these happenstances as they might arise and in many cases well before they might show their ugly heads.

Just going in blind trying to dodge the spears and bullets may win a part in a hollywood action movie but that strategy would sure cause some problems for you in business or hamper you in trying to launch a new idea. Sooner or later one of those bullets will have your name on it.

Now if you have practiced dodging bullets and know where the bullets could and will come from then you stand a chance of surviving. Make sure you have a strategy in place to fix yourself if you miss one though and it hits you. No plan is completely fool- proof and needs back up plans and contingencies to be put in place.

The end-result, the goal in any business or project, can only be achieved if one has a good strategic plan in place.

I hope that when you or anyone you know gets an idea in the future, that you, or they, stop, stop and think. Just put yourself on that mountain and look down at the battlefield that surrounds you (your market place) Make sure you look at it from as good a birds- eye view as you can; before you venture into the valleys of death.

Check to see what may lie out there in wait for you, and pre- research who you can trust and who and where you can get real help and viable information from.

Make sure your troops/warriors (your tactics), can be used so that you can out manoeuvre anything ( the enemy) that springs out at you to tries to stop you in your forward advance.

Have plans and procedures in place to cover any and all eventualities.

Do not just go in blind and hope for the best. Please, please, get yourself a sound, well- researched, and tested strategy and then drill it over and over and over until you know it cold. Then and only then, go out there and take up your vantage point. Now you are more ready and prepared to put your action steps into play.

A good sound strategy may well save you a lot of time and money and sorrow, and keep you from the failure pit where so many great and good ideas, still reside, smouldering and steaming in blame,shame and regret.

Can this guarantee you success. NO! Absolutely not!

Aeroplanes may not crash as much as they have done before because we have had to learn why they crashed in the first place. Now we know. Now we can use design, manufacture and safety strategy, so as to avert more air disasters. Nothing on this planet is completely fool proof - but please it well behooves all of us to make our plans as fool- proof as possible. Surely?

There could have still been something out there that those Zulu Generals did not predict on that day, way back in January 1879.

Strangely enough there was. There was a barrier that they had never reckoned with. The sheer spirit and resilience of those 150 men that on that day fought like lions and held back the Zulu forces.

When it was thought that they had all but breathed their last, those heavily outnumbered British soldiers suddenly looked out and the entire Zulu force had disappeared and retreated into thin air. It was like they had never been there in the first place. Afterwards the annuls of history would record that the Zulu Generals had been so impressed by the enemies valour and courage that they had decided to allow them to live. Their fight and tenacity in the eyes of death had gained the Zulu's respect. Not all enemies are going to be as compromising as that,so always be on your guard. Never take business or any battle of any kind for granted.

So when you launch an idea or want to get a project off the ground.

  • Be prepared to be able to adapt and survive right from the beginning. Have the courage of your convictions.
  • Do your research thoroughly by leaving nothing to chance so that you have more prediction. Yours and others lives and livelihoods may be at stake if you do not.
  • Do everything to find out what might lay ahead. Do not compromise on this. Walk the fields and check under all the rocks.
  • Do a risk assessment and find out what your potential risks are.
  • Base your planning on sound principles that correspond with your research and fact findings.
  • Have a list of potential barriers to hand and make sure you have a carefully laid out way to out manoeuvre any and all circumstances that could arise. Remember that it is easy to get into anything. Getting out of it may become your biggest problem.
  • Keep a check on where you are going. Make notes which you can later turn into good policy for future reference.
  • Monitor yourself carefully as you move ahead.
  • Always take one step forwards and two steps back to review where you are. Then instantly correct anything that you need to correct and validate yourself if you are doing well.
  • Treat your market place as a battlefield and realise that in business there are not too many people out there that will do you any favours.
  • It is killed, or be killed in the eyes of most of your competitors (enemy). Keep your integrity in though as you do not need to harm anyone to get to your outcome/final goal!
  • Be ethical in your dealings. Show the respect that those Zulu Generals showed. Be merciful but resolute in achieving your goals.
  • Do not do anything illegal. Follow the laws of the land.
  • Take advice from professionals with proven success records only. Do not listen to every Tom, Dick and Harry that comes your way.
  • Be true to your goals.
  • Set daily achievable targets and do everything to meet them.
  • Take one milestone journey at a time.

Start following the above and you may well be looking at the beginnings of a good strategy. A good strategy that may well lead you on to success. GO on try it. After all what have you got to lose?

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bmm Premium
Thank you buddy. Hope it can help you and others to spur on to become more successful. If it can then I am achieving my result to be able to help and assist people with educative and entertaining writing. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me and if you need any help with project management I am at your service. We all in WA can be one of the first true ultra successful communities on earth.
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danbarth87 Premium
Absolutely! Thanks, man!
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bmm Premium
I consult on corporate and humanitarian strategy at the moment. I will help any WA member for free and consult and give my opinion of their strategic plans, if they want. No questions asked, with all confidentiality in place.
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danbarth87 Premium
Great content on strategy, Brendan.Well done!
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