The Strategic Planning Approach

The strategic planning approach has some clear advantages: It takes into account the context, whether competition or policy, and it has a slightly longer-term focus. Most strategic planning scholars recommend a time frame of approximately 5 years when planning because it typically takes that long to make strategic changes in programs and services. Strategic planning is a rational model or systematic approach to decision making, so decision points can be quantified, weighted, and sequenced, and then programmed into computer software that shows which option is the “best.”

Despite the capability to quantify mathematically the decision-making process, identifying the best option does not guarantee that the best decision option or program plan will be adopted. Human beings are irrational, with biases in how they think about probabilities and possibilities. These human characteristics are usually not quantified in the decision models, but they are powerful forces in interpreting information and then shaping the actions taken. This irrationality can lead to situations in which the broad goals developed during the planning process are not, in fact, acted upon. Another disadvantage of the strategic planning approach is its lack of flexibility to respond to newly emerging environmental opportunities or threats. In addition, strategic planning, if done properly, is time and resource intensive.

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