The Benefits And Limitations Of Strategic Planning For Organizations

2411 words - 10 pages

The Benefits and Limitations of Strategic Planning for Organizations

"It was August of 1914 and Germany had committed virtually its entire
army to the invasion of Belgium and France. Few German troops remained
to defend East Prussia against the invasion of two huge Russian
armies. Despite the numerical inferiority, Colonel Hoffmann, chief of
the German Eighth Army staff, created an audacious strategy to
surround and annihilate one of the Russian armies. He began to plan a
detailed attack. At the same time, on a train traveling east, General
Ludendorff, the incoming chief of staff of the reinforced German
forces in East Prussia, identified the same opportunity and created
exactly the same strategy. Paul von Hindenburg, the new commander of
German forces in the east, implemented the Hoffmann/Ludendorff
strategy. At the resulting Battle of Tannenberg, only 10,000 of the
150,000 soldiers in the Russian Second Army escaped."[1]

When discussing the concept of strategic planning many keywords seem
to arise. Strategy, planning, detail, identify, opportunity and
implement. The article above describes briefly a situation in which
all of these keywords were practically used. Although this example has
no obvious connection with the world of business, we can start to
analyze what were the benefits and limitations of strategic planning
for Colonel Hoffman and his troops. The obvious benefits of the
strategic plan were that they would be able to take the Russian
soldiers by surprise, possibly allowing the Germans to gain an
advantage in combat. But there were also limitations of the planned
strategy. For example there was only a small number German troops
remaining to actually implement the strategy, this meant that the
strategy might fail through a lack of manpower. It could be argued
that we could apply the same basic principles to an organization
operating in the real world. This prompts the question, what are the
benefits and limitations of strategic planning for organizations?

My discussion begins with what strategic planning actually is.
Although there is no universally accepted definition of strategic
planning, it is possible to explain the term by breaking it down.
Strategy can be defined as 'The science and art of using all the
forces of a nation to execute approved plans as effectively as
possible during peace or war'[2]. Although this definition can be
applied to the example given above, in that the Germans attempted to
'execute an approved plan as effectively as possible', to be able to
apply this definition to an organization in the business world, we
will need to build upon this. By adding that strategy is 'intended to
accomplish a specific goal' the definition becomes more widely
applicable. Jack Welch the former CEO of General electric once wrote


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