Three categories exist for business strategic plans:

  • Desk top
  • Top drawer
  • Bottom drawer

In the third instance, references to the document are sparse and typicallyarise at times of crisis. Ironically, use is therefore random and not at allplanned. Top drawer strategic plans suffer from being out-of-sight. Therefore,they are often out-of-mind.
Desk top plans have a conspicuous presence. “Dog Eared” pages suggest repeatedand regular referral, use and refinement.

Overall these distinct categories reflect more on the business owner and userrather than on the veracity of the content.

In recent times, Australians have been exposed to countless life lessons,numbered among which is the importance of planning.

There is little or no immunity to Covid-19 (coronavirus), catastrophicbushfires and widespread extended drought.


In times like those, others may blame, doubt or dismiss you. Self-belief,discipline and focus can, and typically do, overcome adversity, particularlywhen supported by a structured, integrated and documented plan.

Contingency initiatives are usually implied rather than detailed among theshorter-term tactics.

In the three categories detailed above, the urgency in addressing andredressing the key causes may well have elapsed for the time being. They willremain primary unresolved imperatives.


Recovery is another matter. It is an immediate priority, with longer-termrealities and consequences. Sustainability is one important measure.

The rush to cut costs, seek government assistance and implore widespreademotional and transactional support from the broader public is understandable.Each is reactionary and short-term, and will be largely ineffective.
Extensive rainfall will, and has, extinguished bushfires, stimulate pasturesand regrowth. Vaccines will remediate the health considerations of thecoronavirus. Very rapidly the 24-hour news cycle will have the media move on,change focus and report on new headlines.

It is typical in such circumstances that management teams are inclined todecide to “put aside the strategic plan” and “to start doing things”. Poorchoice! That is the very time that the strategic plans should be produced,analysed and be subjected to a forensic audit. Within its pages are the anchorpoints for culture, strategies, tactics and datum points for crisis managementinitiatives.

Therefore, detailed reviews, revision and refinements of strategic plans arerequired. Each of the strata will require analysis and, most probably,extension. Maintaining alignment between each will be important.

Too often, in times of “crisis”, short-term tactics are introduced, withlittle consideration of intermediate (objectives – 3-5 years), long-term(goals – 3-5 years and strategic- cultural (mission statements – 10-20 years)aspects.

Natural outcomes are road-blocks, a loss of competitive edge, compromisedbranding and reliance on price discounting.


Many of the effects of cash-flow interruptions and downturns are conspicuousand immediate. Impacts on momentum and critical mass are less apparent in theshorter term, but profound over broader horizons.

Re-establishing and rekindling momentum require capital, resources and time.Expeditious turnarounds are typically pipe dreams, evidenced by spates, andaccelerating rates of business closures and failures.

Under-resourced entities, geared to a reliance on consistent and growingpositive cash-flows, are soon found to be exposed and wanting. Margins oferror evaporate, lead-times are truncated.

Vacant premises and FOR LEASE signs are proof-positive of the cycle, andindicative of a lack of planning.


The attainment and fulfilment of short-term targets should, indeed must, leadto contributions to the intermediate-term objectives.

Otherwise they raise questions on the purpose, the objectives, goals, missionand philosophy of the entity.

Objectives are fundamental benchmarks for marketing. They define absolute andrelative market positioning, competitive standing and presence in themarketplace.

They contribute to and quantify the relevance of the entity, its brand name,products, services, supply chain and people.

In times of crisis, when the emphasis is on survival and cash-flow, thesedimensions are assigned little consideration and emphasis.

And so it is, as others are losing their heads, those who have taken the timeand allocated the resources to formulate, document and implement genuineintegrated and structured strategic plans, typically enjoy the fruits of theirlabours and endeavours.

The philosophies and mission usually are retained and respected. Complementarycontingency plans are outlined and energised.

The foundations of self-belief, discipline and focus lie with the documentedplans.

Inevitably, recovery is quicker, more successful and consistent with theoverriding values of the entity.

Strategic plans. Hardly light reading. But important desktop references.

Barry Urquhart
Strategic Planning Facilitator
Marketing Focus

M: 041 983 5555
E: [email protected]

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