Strategic direction

Defining a strategic direction differs from conventional business planning in that it concentrates on the medium- to long-term goals and identifies the strategies needed to achieve them. Typically this involves:

  • understanding the needs and expectations of the company’s stakeholders (i.e. customers, shareholders/owners, employees and suppliers)
  • understanding internal performance and capabilities
  • developing, communicating and implementing the necessary policies

TEC Transnational and their partners work with management teams to systematically answer these questions in a highly structured manner scheduled over an 8 - to 12-week period using structured questioning techniques focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the business. We use our tried-and-tested approach that involves Marketing, Benchmarking, EFQM and SC21 Bus-Ex development experience coupled with widely used models such as RADAR, SWOT, PESTLE and ‘Five Forces’ to establish a unique and prioritised strategy.

The resulting strategy is contained in a formal report that identifies and explains the strategic challenges and provides a detailed route map that will take the company in the desired direction. The report prioritizes and sequences recommendations to fit the capabilities of the company, building on strengths and identifying likely wins. These recommendations will be chosen to build the confidence of the management team to tackle the fundamental changes required for sustained continual improvement.

Armed with the report, TEC undertake a comprehensive review with organization’s top management team to explain and discuss the recommendations. The objective is to ensure compatibility with the SC21 CSIP and to agree a realistic plan-for-change that:

  • reflect the consensus of the top management team
  • is supported by key decision-makers (notably owners/directors and shareholders)
  • is acceptable to other stakeholders (i.e. the employees, customers and suppliers)

TEC have long recognised that the deployment of a sound strategic plan can pose some considerable personal challenges to the owners/directors and managers of SMEs, whose role can change dramatically as the business grows.

Effective strategic planning involves considering options that challenge the way that business operated up to this point. This can involve changing the management structure; delegating authority and decision-making; streamlining processes which have worked well in the past will no longer fit with future plans; and so on. These 'sensitive issues' must be identified and tackled head on. It can be tempting for owners or managers to overlook radical alternatives that are uncomfortable for them personally, but to disregard such options on these grounds can seriously compromise the strategic plan and ultimately the growth of the business.

Examples of the kind of 'issues' that tend to get overlooked by growing businesses include:

  • the future role of the owner(s)
  • the location of the business
  • the ownership structure
  • the age/qualification profile of the company’s employees
  • the management structure
  • the company culture

In the final analysis, it is the owners of the business who must decide the strategic plan. It is recognised that developing a business is not something done at all costs; however, a systematic and honest assessment of all options allows informed decisions made.

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The process of developing a strategic direction will establish where the business needs to be; how to get there; and how to manage risks associated with the change. This involves a 3-step process to answer these questions:

  • where is the business now? (e.g. scope of operations, operational capability, operational processes & procedures, management structure, current markets, customer profile, etc.)
  • where do we want to take it? (e.g. future operational structure, process & procedures, future markets, future management structure & customer profile, etc.)
  • what do we need to do to get it there? (e.g. organization & management structure, certifications & approvals, marketing/sales support, equipment/facilities capability, employee qualification/training, financial planning, etc.)

The implementation of an organization's strategic direction requires careful planning and management. In line with the EFQM Model, progress and performance must be measured using quantified results and associated goals. Budgets and deadlines have to be assigned to directors, key employees and/or department managers.

Monitoring the progress of implementation and reviewing it against the strategic plan will be an ongoing process. TEC favour the use of R-A-D-A-R from the EFQM Model to ascertain success and assess and refine both the approaches being used and the manner in which the strategic plan is being deployed. Monitoring implementation is the key with special reference to the achievement of agreed KPIs (key performance indicators).

Larger teams might benefit from our in-house courses. Fill out the form below and we will contact you with further details.