There is a widely accepted axiom in the world of business that a company’s business plan is its best friend. If that’s true, then a strategic plan is the second best friend, and one of equal importance. The truth of the matter is that strategic business planning is not a one-time thing. It is on ongoing process that continues for as long as a company remains in operation.
A fitting example of just how important an ongoing strategic business development plan is can be found in the GSK debacle unfolding in Cumbria. Back in 2009, the pharmaceutical giant began the search for a location to build a new manufacturing plant that would support GSK’s existing antibiotic manufacturing in Ulverston.
Government and business leaders from Ulverston worked extremely hard to convince GSK to make their town home to the new plant. They proposed a site, convinced GSK their site with the right choice, and then set about upgrading the local community to make it happen. The upgrades involved everything from housing to commercial development.
Fast forward to early 2015 when GSK officially began work on the site. By the end of that year, several new buildings had already been built and opened. Then one year later, GSK announced they were rethinking their plans for the Ulverston site. We now know they have abandoned plans for a new manufacturing plant there.
Figuring out What Went Wrong
GSK’s announcement has created the expected finger-pointing. There are plenty of speeches, blog posts, and editorial pieces to come in the future. But at the end of the day, the goal should be to figure out what went wrong. Why did a years-long process come to a screeching halt without any warning that GSK could possibly pull out?
Was it a matter of poor strategic business planning on the pharmaceutical company’s part? Was the development plan put forth by local government leaders lacking? Was the eventual decision to scrap plans completely unrelated to the strategic models of either party?
There’s no way to know if a better plan could have avoided whatever problems caused GSK to jump ship. There’s no way to know if the company’s strategic business planning for the Ulverston expansion could or should have been different. But there is one thing we know for sure: one of the main priorities of strategic business planning is to avoid such colossal mistakes.
Where a business plan is designed to get a new start-up off the ground by providing goals and a way to get there, the strategic plan is designed to expand on the original business plan as a company’s operations change, evolve, and expand. Strategic business planning is that which moves a company from one phase to the next throughout its entire life cycle. If the strategy is off by just a little, corrections can easily be made. But if it’s off a lot, catastrophe awaits.
Is that what happened with GSK and Ulverston? We may never know.
North-West Evening Mail – http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/ulverston/MP-rues-heartbreaking-u-turn-on-Ulverston-drug-firm-investment-a508d085-9613-475b-ae61-109fe72dbf2d-ds
By Peter Smith.
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