Chris Thorpe has been named as the first Fellow of the SPS, holding the FStratPS title. He owns a business strategy, commercial troubleshooting and marketing agency and is a Visiting Lecturer on the subjects on a University MSc programme. He explains why he applied for this distinction, and where he feels the challenges lie for the profession.
Why was it important for you to become a Fellow?
Fellowship is important to me as I work on numerous business strategy, market planning, commercial troubleshooting and market research projects for clients. This recognition complements my other Fellowship awards and qualifications, further recognising the level of work and expertise that I have in this key business area.
Did you benefit from the process of applying?
The process was straightforward, requiring demonstration of three core competencies in ‘activities, knowledge and behaviours’. In my case I completed the application form and forwarded a career resume, key achievement summary and eight letters/case studies of client endorsement. Their comments helped reinforce the benefits that I provide for their organisations and crystallised some of the value added by myself and my team.
Why is professionalisation of strategic planning so important?
There is room for improvement in the way some organisations, especially SME’s approach the strategic planning process. It should be at the core of what businesses are doing, carried out in a timely manner, with the involvement, buy-in and effective communication of all business areas. It needs to be a live and ongoing process which is practical, achievable and regularly reviewed.
What challenges are currently facing the profession?
Understandably many businesses are focused on the very real short-term business challenges of the next 12 months. However, to be well positioned as the business climate changes they need to be planning ahead with three and five year strategies – reinforced by a regularly reviewed annual business plan.
The goalposts for many business areas are rapidly changing and customers now have much wider access to information, supplier selection, pricing, delivery and performance review. This not only applies to the service sector but also the B2B environment as well. I’m not certain that some organisations are well positioned for adapting to the changing global market, or alive to the opportunities available in the expanding emerging markets. I find it interesting when I lecture to international students, especially those from emerging markets; they look at the wider global perspective and how their country or business can benefit.
There is also a need to consider the training and practical courses available in the strategic sphere to ensure that managers have this as a core competency. By way of example, in the B2B sector you sometimes find senior managers having been appointed from complex technical roles because of their specific technical expertise, which may offer limited preparation for their organisations overall business strategy and planning requirements.
What happens next?
There will eventually be an upturn, there’s no question about this because both the UK and global economies work in cycles. Whilst for some organisations the economic conditions in 2011 may prove a step too far, for others the key for success will be to look ahead to the upturn and prepare for the bounce-back, so that their organisation is in a position to take advantage of it.
Put ‘FStratPS’ after your name. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a Fellowship application form.