Strategic planning: The opportunity horizon in Africa

19 October 2014

CEOs in Africa tell us that the desire to create something is what drives their strategic planning. A disciplined adherence to facts, data and analysis should govern the creative process, not guesswork or instinct. They recognise that the entrepreneurial spirit so prevalent in emerging markets can be managed in a profitable way, through strategic thinking, planning and implementation.

Our survey shows that many CEOs in Africa face challenges to this vision of strategic planning. They rank product/service innovation topmost among opportunities for growth but are concerned about shifts in consumer spending and behaviours. At the same time, they prioritise customer growth and retention strategies and they are developing strategies and implementing change plans. Ideally, market research would inform the innovative process by helping companies to anticipate shifting consumer preferences and manage retention, but companies may lack the ability to collect data or the ability to analyse it.

An effective strategic planning horizon takes into account these and other challenges and opportunities. CEOs may not have the data they need to make a decision; the quandary for those in management is how to make decisions with limited information. There may be significant competitive pressure to make decisions with imperfect information. A rigorous approach to strategic planning is even more important in this environment. CEOs in Africa tell us that success depends upon confidence and judgement informed by a keen understanding of markets and the interplay between consumers, business and government.

Our CEO Survey asks respondents to comment on their strategic planning horizon. We ask respondents if their horizon is one, three, five or more than five years into the future and then, separately, we ask them to tell us what they think their ideal planning horizon should be. The time and effort applied to the strategic planning process influences accurate horizons; any discrepancy between the actual horizon and the ideal horizon may indicate that the planning process is flawed. Planning is essential to successful execution and the reason why so many good strategies fail.

Jeff Aludo | Director, Strategy and Operations Consulting practice, PwC Kenya
Profile | Email | +254 (20) 285 5406

More articles by Edouard Messou

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