Programme Lead, Chris Smith PCQI, asks what is the value of strategic management and how can it be important for ensuring business continuity.


“There is no law to say organisations, governments or even nations must continue indefinitely.” Henry Ford.


This quotation from Henry Ford, is a simple reminder that it takes real effort to ensure business continuity.


This has been clearly evident on the high street, as many well-loved stores have had to either close their doors or have seen a drastic reduction in profits.  Big brands, including Debenhams, BHS, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton, Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Jessops, TSB, M&S, John Lewis have all suffered as Britain’s high street goes through rapid change.  There are many reasons why these have been unable to compete, including outdated business models, increased costs of goods, cost of premises, the pandemic, etc…  Organisational Strategic Management is so important to ensure that businesses continue to thrive.


Organisational Strategic Management ensures businesses’ plan, monitor, analyse and assess that all their organisational needs meet their goals and objectives, and they anticipate and are ready to adapt to any changes in its environment, in order to continue to succeed and prosper.



Before looking at strategic management, we should consider the key organisational definitions. Much valuable management time is wasted debating the difference between; vision, mission, targets, plans or objectives, and different organisations use different words to describe the same thing. Rather than list several definitions, here is one simple list that can be built upon and adapted:


1: VALUES: The way the organisation behaves, either derived from the founder or agreed collectively by top management.


2: VISION: An organisation’s vision is the concept of a new and desirable future reality based on its values – what it wants to become known for or become.


3: MISSION: Put simply, the mission is the purpose for which the organisation exists.


4: STRATEGY: This is the roadmap of the journey detailing how the organisation will achieve the above. Several strategies might co-exist; for example, in the home market there might be one to maximise returns and maintain income whilst in a newly opened market there might be one to work up to a top three position by sales within five years.


5: OBJECTIVES: These are quantifiable milestones to aim for, enabling outputs and progress to be measured. They are often grouped into short, medium and long-term periods such as 1, 3 and 5 years.




Strategic management relates to making decisions about the future direction of the organisation and putting them into action. There are two main aspects:


ONE: Strategic planning

Strategic planning is absolutely vital, whether we are considering a sole trader or a Global company. A simple way of looking at it in the planning stage is by asking three basic questions:

  • where are we now?
  • where are we going?
  • how are we going to get there?


TWO: Strategic implementation.

Strategic implementation involves developing the appropriate organisational structure and processes that can realise the strategy, and then monitoring the progress and effectiveness of the action plans.




Often called situation appraisal, it is a snapshot of the organisation from two aspects:

1: External

This comprises an appraisal of the environment that the organisation is either operating within at present or in the future (care must be taken not to mix these up). There are several models and tools that can be employed such as force-field analysis, PEST analysis or competitive benchmarking etc.

As well as the general environment, it is useful to perform competitor analysis, possibly for each and every key competitor. Although covering broadly similar issues such as values, objectives and strategies, this must also include assumptions made and predictions – bearing in mind it is a perception of another organisation and the data probably will be incomplete, inaccurate and possibly erroneous.


Conducting Stakeholder analysis

A well-known and useful tool is stakeholder analysis which serves to identify and prioritise who might have an interest in the organisation, what that interest might be, and how much influence they can exert.

To arrive at the current external strategic position, the following 5-step sequence can be conducted:

  • assess environmental natures
  • identify key environmental forces
  • assess environmental influences
  • identify competitive position
  • define key opportunities and threats (OT).


2: Internal

This is a health-check of the current/expected capabilities of the organisation, whether using a well-established reference tool such as the EFQM excellence model or a more informal approach. The aim is to identify what the organisation does well or not, what resources and competencies are available, how well the processes are working and if internal targets are being achieved. Only when the organisation has profound knowledge of its current abilities, will it be able to gauge what it might be capable of in the future.

Some ISO9001 certificated organisations use their internal audit resource for this critical step, as opposed to simply getting their internal auditors to perform low-level repetitive tick-box audits. Topics that are reviewed include: objectives, strategy, leadership, structure, systems, financials, processes, resources, capabilities, culture and constraints. The output of this is a perception of strengths and weaknesses (SW). Put together with the opportunities and threats (OT) from the external assessment, we get the well-known SWOT model.



There are no rules here. Organisations in a competitive environment should be continually striving to differentiate themselves from the competition; either on price, service, response or some other success factor. An interesting approach is to analyse where the organisation would be if nothing changes, and also where it needs to be. Of course the larger the gap the larger the need for change.

Irrespective of the strategic options open to the organisation there are three fundamental steps:


1: Option generation

This involves proposing various routes either at strategic or product level including:

  • continue as-is
  • acquire a competitor
  • develop new products for current markets
  • develop new markets for current products
  • penetrate more into existing markets
  • reposition the product in terms of price or value
  • abandon certain, products/services, markets, approaches etc.


2: Option evaluation

This is an impartial stress-test review of each option, weighing up the risks versus rewards. The objective is to propose one or two options that are feasible, sustainable, implementable and in-line with the values, and are within the capabilities of the organisation.


3: Strategy selection

The organisation does not operate in a vacuum. It is a dynamic playing-field and allowances must be made for reaction from the competition. So if a new product is launched, expect the opposition to possibly follow suite (patent issues aside, of course). Likewise, if prices drop, expect the same. The strategy is not cast in stone and might need refining in the early days of roll-out in light of these foreseeable reactions and also unforeseen changes (such as a new competitor or technological or legislation changes or Operating environmental changes).



This involves defining the route-map (including allowances for events as mentioned above) and is often best run as a project. Considerations might include:

  • Changes to organisational structure including roles and responsibilities
  • Infrastructure changes opening/closing/redevelopment of facilities, plant, buildings and locations
  • Non-human resource planning such as investment in equipment and new technology
  • Development of new processes or redesign/realignment of existing ones
  • Contingency plans
  • Funding requirements
  • Key milestones and associated objectives defined to measure progress towards the goal
  • Motivation methods to overcome the fatigue factor associated with potential continual change.

The above can be captured in a concise document such as a strategic or business plan so interested parties can critically review both the options presented and the route selected.

Often the objectives (being the cascaded ‘output’ of this part of the strategic planning process) are ill-conceived. Thus when they cannot be met, frustration sets in. A common cause of this unfortunate situation is unbalanced goals – too much emphasis on one target at the expense of others. For example, pressure on short-term profit targets and ignoring longer-term investment or total focus on financial targets and ignoring non-financial ones. Getting the balance is an art in itself and the challenge for Organisational Leadership.


If you’re interested in studying one of our CQI and IRCA Quality Management courses, you can find out more here.