Define the Business and its Mission: The fundamental strategic decisions managers face are these: where are we in terms of the business we’re in, and what business do we want to be in, given our company’s opportunities and threats, and its strengths and weakness? Managers then choose strategies – courses of action such as buying competitors or expanding overseas – to get the company from it is today to where it wants to be tomorrow.
Management experts use the terms vision and mission to help define a company’s current and future business. Some use the terms interchangeably. However, in general usage, vision tends to be the broader and more future oriented of the two. The company’s vision is a general statement of its intended direction that evokes emotional feelings in organization members.
To choose a direction, a leader must first have developed a mental image of a possible and desirable future state for the organization. This image, which we call a vision, may be as value as a dream or as precise as a goal or mission statement. The critical point is what a vision articulates a view of a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization, a condition that is some important ways than what now exists.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of news corporation which owns the Fox network and any newspaper and satellite TV operations has a vision of an integrated, global satellite based news gathering entertainment, and multimedia firm. Web MD CEO Jeffrey Arnold launched his business based on a vision of a Web site supplying everything a consumer might want to know about medical-related issues.
The firm’s mission is more specific and shorter term. It serves to communicate who we are what we do, and where we’re headed. Whereas visions usually lay out in very broad terms what the business should be, the mission lays out what it is supposed to be now. For example, the mission of the California Energy Commission is to ‘assess and act’ through public/private partnerships to improve energy systems that promote a strong economy and a healthy environment. The Commission’s vision, by way of comparison is for Californians to have energy choices that are affordable, reliable, diverse, safe, and environmentally acceptable.
Perform External and internal Audits: Managers base their strategic plans on methodical analyses of their external and internal situations. The basic point of a strategic plan should be to choose a direction for the firm that makes sense, in terms of the external opportunities and threats it faces and the internal strengths and weaknesses it possesses. To facilitate this strategic external/internal audit, many managers turn to SWOT analysis. This involves using a SWOT chart to compile and organize the process of identifying company Strengths, Weakness Opportunities, and Threats.
Translate the mission into Strategic Goals: Saying our mission is to “assess and act’ through public/private partnerships to improve energy systems is one thing; operating that mission for your managers is another. The firm’s managers need long term strategic goals. For example, what exactly does that mission mean, for the next five years, in terms of how many and what specific types of partnership to form, with whom, and when?
Business managers need specificity. WebMD’s sales director needs goals regarding the number of new medical reared content providers – vitamin firms, hospitals, HMOs – it must sign up per year, as well as sales revenue targets. The business development manager needs goals regarding the number of new businesses – such as using WebMD to help manage doctors’ office online –he or she is to develop and sign. Similarly, a global financial powerhouse like Citicorp can’t function with the broad mission to provide integrated, comprehensive financial service worldwide. It needs specific goals, in areas including building shareholder value through growth in earnings-per-share; continuing its commitment to building customer-oriented business worldwide; maintaining superior rates of return; building a strong balance sheet; and balancing the business by customer, product, and geography. —