Using an example of the United Nations (UN), critically discuss the extent to which strategic planning is important to military affairs.
Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. Simply put, strategic planning determines where an organization is going over the coming years and how it is going to get there. And importantly, through strategic planning, we must align ourselves with the needs of the community we serve. Therefore, this assignment, using an example of the UN will critically discuss the extent to which strategic planning is important to military affairs.
Strategic planning is a very important activity for organizations focused on the future and the commitment to mission. Throughout the United Nations Strategic Plan, you will see this commitment to the future and a roadmap of ways to achieve our goals. Generally, strategic planning deals, on the whole business, rather than just an isolated unit, with at least one of following three key questions.
“What do we do?”
“For whom do we do it?”
“How do we excel?”
For example, the first and third questions are those that motivate an acquisition. Acquisitions are thus strategic choices. Typically, strategic choices look at 3 to 5 years, although some extend their vision to 20 years (long term). Because of the time horizon and the nature of the questions dealt, mishaps potentially occurring during the execution of a strategic plan are afflicted by significant uncertainties and may lie very remotely out of the control of management (war, geopolitical shocks, etc.). Those mishaps, in conjunction to their potential consequences are called “strategic risks”. Untapped opportunities can also be seen as strategic risks, but in this post we will not analyse those upward-risks aspects.
In all UN offices, departments and missions, it is critical that managers utilize the most effective approach toward developing a strategy for their existing programmes and when creating new programmes. Managers use the strategy to communicate the direction to staff members and guide the larger department or office work. Here you will find practical techniques based on global management best practices.
A strategic planning process identifies strategies that will best enable a nonprofit to advance its mission. Ideally, as staff and board engage in the process, they become committed to measurable goals, approve priorities for implementation, and also commit to revisiting the organization’s strategies on an ongoing basis as the organization’s internal and external environments change. Many nonprofits start the process by identifying the nonprofit’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, in what is commonly called a “SWOT” analysis. Looking at external as well as internal factors (such as your own nonprofit’s staff capacity to accomplish its goals) is important.
Looking ahead and planning for the future actually should be continuous: As various factors change, the non-profit may need to adjust its plans. While the process of bringing everyone together to plan for the future is energizing, once that is in the rear-view mirror, don’t let the plan gather dust on the shelf. If no one refers to the plan after it is completed, then it’s hardly serving as a “strategic” guide! Revisit the plan periodically, making adjustments, and adapting the plan – and the non-profit’s strategic priorities – as circumstances change. Some argue for throwing out the “plan” completely, or reducing it to a very short, concise document, easily digestible by staff and board. Articulating and perhaps visualizing an organization’s “theory of change” is another way to think about “what success will look like” – how to get there, and what resources it will take to get there. There are hundreds of consultants and volumes of written materials just on strategic planning and many others that help non-profits develop a theory of change. We’ve selected just a few for you below. Your state association of non-profits may also offer educational programs and workshops throughout the year to assist your non-profit with proactive planning. Plus, staying current with trends and policy issues that affect non-profit operations is key to being prepared to adapt to a changing environment.
STRATEGIC PLANNING DEFINED
Strategic planning is a process of looking into the future and identifying trends and issues against which to align organizational priorities of the Department or Office. Within the Departments and Offices, it means aligning a division, section, unit or team to a higher-level strategy. In the UN, strategy is often about achieving a goal in the most effective and efficient manner possible. For a few UN offices (and many organizations outside the UN), strategy is about achieving a mission comparatively better than another organization (i.e. competition). For everyone, strategic planning is about understanding the challenges, trends and issues; understanding who the key beneficiaries or clients are and what they need; and determining the most effective and efficient way possible to achieve the mandate. A good strategy drives focus, accountability, and results.
UN departments, offices, missions and programmes develop strategic plans to guide the execution of an overall mandate and direct multiple streams of work. Sub-entities create compatible strategies depending on their size and operational focus. Smaller teams within a department/office or mission may not need to create strategies; there are, however, situations in which small and medium teams may need to think strategically, in which case the following best practices can help structure the thinking.
Strategic plans should integrate, drive and connect to the UN budgeting process, providing the inputs to the ‘regular budget’ (or ‘programme budget’) via the Strategic Framework model. The Strategic Framework, on a regular basis, captures the objectives, expected accomplishments and indicators of achievement for each sub-programme, which would, by definition, be found in a strategic plan.
Strategic plans should also integrate with work-planning efforts. Work-plans (also called operational plans) outline the specific, shorter-term operational objectives, outputs, projects and processes of an entity.
At the individual level, it is useful to adapt strategic planning tools and technique to one’s own job and position. Thinking and planning ‘strategically’ at the personal level requires similar inputs, questions, and approach, and develops your capacity to participate in planning efforts for teams and higher-level entities.