Strategic planning and managing skills

Strategic planning helps businesses set objectives and timelines to accomplish those goals.
In addition, strategic planning creates achievable objectives through several factors, such as time management and resource allocation. 

Competences addressed/ learning outcomes expand_more

After completing this Learning resource participants will be able to:  
•  Attention to detail.
•  Calculating costs for implementation.
•  Critical thinking.
•  Logical thinking.
•  Inductive reasoning.
•  Systematic thinking.


The objectives of this learning resource can be summarised as below:
•  To review the business situation.
•  To understand in depth the business challenges.
•  To set long and short-term objectives.
•  To identify strengths and weaknesses of the company.
•  To prepare for professional risks. 

Theoretical background expand_more

What are strategic planning and skills?
Companies often have goals of how they want to achieve success in certain ways. Strategic planning helps businesses set objectives and timelines to accomplish those goals. In addition, strategic planning creates achievable objectives through several factors, such as time management and resource allocation. Done well, strategic planning improves operations, provides focus, sets priorities, and increases collaboration in the workplace. It can guide and shape the future of an organization.

Therefore, strategic planning and management skills help a company or an organization in setting objectives, selecting a plan of action, and increase productivity in line with the company's vision. The ability to better lead, inspire, organize, plan, schedule, budget, and solve problems is referred to as management abilities. Whether setting team goals that morph into organizational goals or making a case for a new hire, managers leverage a handful of key skills to accomplish every aspect of their job.

2. Types of strategic planning and managing skills

There’s a lengthy list of beneficial hard and soft skills for top entrepreneurs or managers to embrace. When it comes to adding the most value, however, we can bucket these into four distinct categories:
Analytical skills:
People working in strategic planning need to be able to analyze and evaluate a company’s business plan. They must be skilled in market analysis, data analysis and feasibility analysis. This initial analysis is crucial to creating a strategy that aligns with the current reality facing the social entrepreneurship. Only through an analytical eye can strategic planners decide what steps a company needs to take. Strategic planners must be able to analyze various information and use this information to create viable strategic plans for an organization.
Good analytical skills for strategic planners to possess include:
Attention to Detail (the ability to efficiently allocate your cognitive resources to achieve thoroughness and accuracy when accomplishing tasks, no matter how small or large)
• Calculating Costs for Implementation
• Critical Thinking (the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas)
• Defining Mechanisms for Input
• Defining Purpose of the Strategic Planning Process
• Developing a Plan for Implementing Strategies
• Logical Thinking (the ability of analyzing a situation and coming up with a sensible solution)
• Inductive Reasoning
• Deductive Reasoning
• Systematic Thinking

Communication skills:
Strategic planners spend much of their time communicating with others regarding strategic and business planning. They must be able to effectively communicate their findings and the plan they've developed to assist a company in reaching its goals and objectives. They also must be strong listeners to understand the needs of the company as well as the individual needs of the company's employees. Besides, the ability to communicate complex ideas, collaborate with internal and external stakeholders, build consensus, and ensure everyone is aligned and working toward shared goals are all central to strategic planning.
Examples of communication skills that strategic planners should possess include:
•  Active Listening
•  Collaboration
•  Constructive criticism (the ability to give a type of feedback that offers specific and actionable advice to help employees to improve)
•  Nonverbal communication (the ability of conveying information without using words)
•  Facilitating Group Discussion
•  Creating Mission/Vision Statements
•  Handling Constructive Criticism
•  Engaging Reluctant Members in Discussions
•  Negotiation (the ability to have a strategic discussion between two parties to resolve an issue in a way that both find acceptable)
•  People Skills
•  Persuasiveness (the ability to make successful efforts in influencing others through verbal or nonverbal communication)
•  Pitching
•  Public Speaking (the ability that helps candidates maintain a positive presence, engage with their audience, and communicate clearly to convey their ideas)
•  MS PowerPoint
•  Presentation skills (the abilities one needs to deliver compelling, engaging, informative, transformative, educational, enlightening, and/or instructive presentation)
•  Team Building
•  Teamwork (the ability that allows you to work well with others during conversations, projects, meetings, or other collaborations)
•  Verbal Communication
•   Written Communication

Leadership skills:
A strategic planner must lead subordinates, peers, and supervisors towards a common goal. This requires strong leadership skills. They must be able to inspire, motivate, and ensure all team members remain loyal to the company’s goals.
Some leadership skills for strategic planners include:
• Energetic
• Establishing Incentives
• Flexibility (the ability of adapting successfully to changing situations and environments, and keeping calm in the face of difficulties)
• Interpersonal skills
• Management 
• Motivational skills (the abilities that allow leaders to encourage and inspire team members to boost productivity and improve work quality)
• Recognizing the Contributions of Key Players
• Resourcefulness

Problem solving skills:
Strategic planning is often used to solve problems or address challenges, such as missed financial targets, inefficient workflows, or an emerging competitor. A strategic planner effectively analyzes data related to the problem and uses the findings to offer a viable solution.
Good problem-solving skills needed by strategic planners include:
• Aligning Business Practices with Emerging Strategy
• Assessment
• Brainstorming
• Creativity
• Evaluation
• Identifying Obstacles
• Problem Sensitivity
• Multitasking (the ability of working on two or more tasks simultaneously, switching back and forth from one thing to another, or performing several tasks in rapid succession)
• Stress Tolerance (the ability to be relaxed and composed when faced with difficulties)
• Decision making
• Dependability
• Confidence

There are more strategic planning and managing skills such as business development, marketing skills, critical thinking skills, information system technology skills and research skills that entrepreneurs need to cultivate to achieve professional success.

Step-by-step implementation expand_more

The implementation of this learning resource is aimed at women entrepreneurs who have already consolidated their social business idea and seek to define company's objectives, mission, and vision, using design thinking tools. Besides, women entrepreneurs that start new businesses, need an innovative plan that provides clear and sustaining business maps for social entrepreneurship’s growth through human-centered approaches. The first steps are to consult with stakeholders, build a clear and inspiring statement of intent of the company or organization and prioritize the different approaches to make the business purpose a reality in a capitalistic economy. Afterwards, design general actions that the company will carry out, collaborate with all staff members, and implement the strategic planning with design thinking.

The edge of Design Thinking over other methodologies allows the entrepreneurs to open ways for business strategies to be implemented or modified by understanding the systems in a complex and co-creative way. Also, Design Thinking’s collaborative approach allows entrepreneurs to bring together multidisciplinary teams with different points of view to build “feasible solutions” for possible challenges. Finally, the design thinking approach provided a means for better engaging their people’s ideas and expertise in the strategy process. And, as a result, is created a step-by-step implementation of the learning resource’s activities for the target group of ETHIKAS project.

Step 1: Do your own research.
Firstly, a Strategic Planner, who is your learners, must immerse themselves in the world of their customers. They should read, watch, and listen to media that can inform them as to their target demographic's interests. It's time to support your learners to use the million possibilities of the internet to learn everything about the mindset of their customers. You should explain to them that to be strategic, they need a solid understanding of the industry context, trends, and business drivers. Ask them kindly to keep notes to conduct a short report of the results in a paper.
During this task they will cultivate empathy and human-centered thinking, trying to understand their customers via a routine exercise and developing information system technology skills. 
Step 2: Asking questions.
At this exercise you will teach your learners to ask questions. You should focus on helping them to ask questions without a second thought. Women entrepreneurs need to enhance their confident and must know how to ask questions to create a viable strategy that allows a company to reach its goals and objectives. Take time to practice asking questions in every situation to strengthen their strategic thinking skills. Here's the skill to cultivate to your learners as to be willing to ask questions. Persuade them with logical arguments to ask questions that may seem dumb, or obvious, or inconsequential. If the question comes from a place of genuine curiosity, it's worth asking, because we all have biases, and we all have gaps in our knowledge. If we start a project without investigating deeply, we risk missing crucial information without even knowing it.
Asking questions will help them to stay open-minded. Strategic planners must be open-minded to assess various situations and data to formulate viable strategies. Open-mindedness entails putting aside your judgments and biases to better analyze information objectively.
Step 3: Find a mentor.
At this task, you can encourage your learners to start an open discussion in the class to find a person who has excellent strategic planning skills. A mentor can help guide them in developing strategic planning skills and provide feedback when necessary to keep them on the right track. You should clarify that the mentor helps the mentees to clarify goals related to their professional development and organize a plan to achieve these goals by sharing with them experiences and knowledge gained during their own business journey.
During this exercise they will develop good communication skills, active listening, and teamwork to find the appropriate mentor for their social enterprises.

Time needed and group sizeexpand_more

1.  Do your own research: 45 minutes
2. Asking questions: 45 minutes
3. Find a mentor: 30 minutes
Total: 2 teaching hours 
GROUPS: A group of 10 students that will work together with the support of 1 -2 trainer(s). 

Materials needed for implementationexpand_more

· Papers
· Pens

Further resources: Videos and/or useful linksexpand_more

Kiambati, K. & Itunga J. (2016). Managerial Skills and Corporate Strategic Planning. International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration, vol. 2, issue 8, pp. 16-23. 
Maleka, S. (2014). Strategic Management and Strategic Planning Process. Conference: DTPS Strategic Planning & Monitoring, Pretoria, vol. 1. 
United Nations (n.d). Strategic planning - Guide for managers.


Antrim Consulting (n.d.). 6 Skills of Strategic Planning in Business. 
Better Up (2022). How to develop the 12 management skills you need most. 
Harvard Business School Online (2020). 4 Ways to develop your strategic thinking skills. 
Indeed (2022). Strategic Planner Skills: Definition and Examples. 
Indeed (2023). What is Strategic Planning? Definition, Steps and Examples. 
Live about dot com. (n.d.). Important Strategic Planning Skills for Workplace Success. 
London Consulting Group, Alfredo Chavez (2022). Strategic Planning: Design Thinking for business strategy. 
MJV Team (2021). How To Transform Your Strategic Planning with Design Thinking. 
VANTAGE CIRCLE (2023).  7 Ways To Improve Your Strategic Planning Skills For Business Growth.
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