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This paper is a reflection on three simulations as they relate to strategic planning. The first simulation, “Thinking Strategically”, highlights the importance of environmental scanning. The second simulation, “Developing Grand Strategies”, challenged decisions made which lead to effective strategy formulation and choices. The third simulation, “Creating a Strategic Road Map”, provided a simulated experience of how to build a strategic roadmap and the importance and effectiveness of formulating action plans and goals. This reflective approach will convey the lessons learned relative to the importance and effectiveness of the key learning points obtained through each simulation. The concepts and analytical tools that will be used in the Celestica’s strategic plan will be included. The challenges faced by strategic planners will be discussed from the discoveries in the simulations.
The environmental scanning provides the opportunity for advanced insight and provides early warnings for external conditions facing corporations. As shown in the simulation, “Thinking Strategically”, environmental scanning also allows the opportunity for a company to promote vision and direction for all stakeholders. The information gathered as a result of environmental scanning, also provides the company with future trends data and can warn company officials of the declining of trends on the horizon. The simulation also displayed the SWOT analysis as an effective tool of relative importance and effectiveness within environmental scanning. An analysis of strengths and weaknesses is obtained through internal sources, whereas, opportunities and threats information is obtained externally. In identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats all these factors are critical for the strategy. Analyses of each including a matched pair analysis are essential in determining the future prospects of one’s industry and developing a specific industry niche. In the simulation, the bike company built a business on baby boomers and had a brand image of male extreme bikers. However, women comprise almost half of the biking industry. BJ’s identify key strategy concepts by the use of the SWOT analysis to achieve the long-term vision of becoming the No. 1 specialty bicycle retailer in terms of revenue in the next five years. The approach to increase marketing efforts towards women, including hiring female consultants, seemed the most logical in a global environment where women’s sports and athleticism is gaining in popularity. Scanning one’s environment creates a clearer global portrait and impacts all decisions necessary for optimal business outcomes.
Throughout the simulation, the major lessons learned was the value of utilizing various sources of information and implications that such can have on final outcomes of strategic planning. Celestica can benefit through utilizing material pertaining to statistical studies in relation to historical data gained from previous years of operation reports. For example, industry, population, age, race, and geographic areas can separate this information and locations to assist with making well-informed decisions. The results of such analysis can provide a clear direction necessary for maximizing plan designs. The electronic manufacturing companies can best hedge against practices by knowing their target audience and building company opportunities designed richly to attract such consumers, clients and employees. “The two most prominent sources of competitive advantage can be found in the business’s cost structure and its ability to differentiate the business from competitors.” (Pearce and Robinson, Ch. 7).
In the second simulation, “Developing Grand Strategies” was focused on the development of a grand strategy. The toy company Oz was the third largest toy manufacturing company in the country. The company reported $3.5 billion in revenue. Industry reports viewed at Oz predicted that the sales curves were flattening. Oz decided to take a proactive approach to develop a grand strategy that was suitable to the industry reports. “The two most prominent sources of competitive advantages can be found in the business’s cost structure and its ability to differentiate the business from competitors.” (Pearce and Robinson, Ch. 7). Strategies, that involve adoption of new technologies, also have sweet spots. Connecting with the right strategy at the right time supported with the right resources will produce the best possible results (Oliver, 2002).
As a result of the “Developing Grand Strategies” simulation, a lesson learned has been the ability to apply analytic tools and concepts in the development of strategic planning. By virtue of Celestica’s geographic locations, certain advantages exist that differentiates the company from competitors. Primary focus within the company has been based on the company’s ability to offer superb customer service to the consumers and the client. Values and corporate culture appear to competitive edge for Celestica. The company has obvious shortcomings that prevent the organization from competing at an optimum level, and therefore, reputation for doing what is right has held Celestica together during times of strategic planning down turns. The company’s customers have the perception that the company is committed to doing what is right by offering superb customer focus to the products that are to be produced. The company’s ability differentiate through increased customer focus is a key component within developing a grand strategic consistent with Celestica’s mission and values statement (Celestica Website, 2004).
Developing a vision and determining what is critical for the business will aid in making key business decisions. In experiencing the Grand Strategy with Oz, the strategy used is in response to the internal and external conditions of the business systematic processes. As the company builds on strengths and weaknesses, the strategy is to create and sustain a competitive advantage. If a potential opportunity arises, the opportunity should be consistent with what is important to the values and vision of the business. The key point in a business strategy is figuring out what you’re not going to do, not just what you are going to do (The Bangkok Post, 2002).
In looking at the “Creating a Strategic Road Map” simulation, there were several lessons applied regarding the importance and effectiveness of the formulation of action plans and goals. The basis for the formulation of action plans and goals are geared toward long-term company objectives. From the simulation, ConstructWell is the leading provider in the specialized construction service focusing on commercial and infrastructure segments in North America. The company dominated the largest construction market. Organizational success made the company vulnerable for a takeover by a larger corporation. ConstructWell decides to set long-term objectives that countered the take over bid and made long-term strategic decisions designed to rank the company at the top of the industry. A team was formulated to develop a strategic roadmap to accomplish the objectives that had been set. A strategic roadmap helps to place organizational strategies with the company vision and long-term objectives. Once an organization has identified workable long-term goals, the company can begin work on developing strategies to meet those set goals. Every decision made within the firm must be done in alignment with the ultimate goal of meeting the described long-term objective. Using the SWOT chart is integral in this step. These strategies will be implemented through the attempt of defining long-term goals for Celestica by creating alternatives with specific goals to provide tangible measures of progress. Goals help assist an organization in measuring progress in a manner consistent with the long-term objectives of the organization by having the knowledge of the desired direction.
In conclusion, the first simulation, “Thinking Strategically”, highlighted the importance of environmental scanning. The second simulation, “Developing Grand Strategies”, challenged decisions made which lead to effective strategy formulation and choice. The third and final simulation, “Creating a Strategic Road Map”, provided a simulated experience of how to build a strategic roadmap and the importance and effectiveness of formulating action plans and goals. These are the challenges that currently face strategic planners. To remain competitive, companies traditionally cut costs, trim balance sheets and return to their core competencies. Companies search for alternative ways to handle activities that are essential to their businesses. Celestica, like the mentioned companies in the three simulations are all challenged to produce an outcome that is beneficial to the bottom line of the business. Alternative methods run the scope from purchasing a new, better management system, to hiring someone to handle it for them, to the occasional borrowing of another company’s facilities (Krizner, 2002).
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Oliver, R. W. (2002, March/April). The Strategic Sweet Spot. The Journal of Business
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Pearce & Robinson. (2005). Strategic Management (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
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The Bangkok Post. `Shooting for the stars” through strategic planning. (2002, January 23).