Hand of business person positioning chess piece surrounded by business information

Strategy is a way of dealing with business opportunities, challenges and crises. In a fast-paced environment, those that have the right strategy can pounce before others with a slower-moving game plan (or no plan at all). (Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock)

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7 reasons why the future still looks bright for strategy

Despite all the naysayers, having a plan in place remains as essential as ever to ensure achieving your organization’s goals

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Is strategy dead? Is the world moving too fast for business to keep up? Definitely, if you go by some press commentators. With disruption happening in every sector, and new entrants and technologies popping up all over the economy, how can you possibly plan?

The reality is, there was never a greater need for a game plan. “Strategy cannot be dead because there is nothing to replace it,” says Cam Scholey, MBA, FCPA, FCMA, speaker and author of A Practical Guide to the Balanced Scorecard and several CPA Canada management accounting guidelines (MAGs), including Strategy Mapping. “Every organization has objectives, and every organization needs to come up with a solid game plan to get those objectives achieved.” (See: “Strategy mapping: 6 guidelines you need for an effective plan” for more)

However, Scholey adds, the traditional approach of strategic planning for a year or more is definitely dead. Davinder Valeri, director of strategy, risk and performance at CPA Canada, agrees. “You can no longer afford to come up with a strategic plan and put it on the shelf,” she says. “You have to be nimble. You must revisit the plan frequently and be able to adjust it as quickly as needed.”

Here are some of the reasons why strategy will always be relevant.

1. It defines value
In addition, strategy also provides the roadmap to create that value. “Without a strategy, an organization is unlikely to even be able to define value, much less create it,” says Scholey.

2. Fast pace just means fast strategy
In essence, it is both a planning and a decision-making tool. That means these processes are not overlooked just because decisions need to be made quicker.

“Abandoning your strategy without a proper replacement is tantamount to abandoning your car because road conditions have become riskier,” says Scholey. “You don’t abandon—you either adapt your car to fit the new conditions or get a new one. Anyone who gives up on strategy because things are moving too fast will need to be replaced by others who can come in with a more agile, fast-moving plan of attack.”

3. Provides clarity
When it comes to fulfilling a mission, only a clear game plan can keep everyone in the boat rowing in one direction to accomplish it. “Otherwise, people will row in all different directions and chaos will ensue,” says Scholey.

4. Helps preserve internal controls 
Internal controls are necessary for many reasons: to ensure efficient and effective operations, safeguard assets and manage risk, to name a few. “There is a symbiotic relationship between internal controls and strategy—one cannot thrive without the other,” says Scholey.

5. Includes contingency planning
Prediction and forecasting are needed in business, because they tend to dictate action. However, a good strategy incorporates contingencies, so that when things don’t go to plan, there is a good alternative.

6. Includes validation
An organization’s plan needs to systematically connect objectives to the work to be done, in a cause and effect manner. For example, you might say, “If we want to meet a-b-c objectives, then we need to do X. And in order to do X, we need to do Y.” As Scholey explains, traditional strategy did not include validation, but “new age strategy mandates it.”

7. Offers clarity to see opportunities
Strategy is a way of dealing with business opportunities, challenges and crises. In a fast-paced environment, those that have the right strategy can pounce before others with a slower-moving game plan (or no plan at all).

“If you abandon strategy, you basically walk away from one of the biggest opportunities to win the marketplace,” says Scholey.