Strategic business planning is widely accepted as a key business tool. It can transform a steady picture in to brighter and more rewarding one thanks to its focus on the details and commitment to goal achievement.

Some business leaders miss one vital element: This is not a one-time process. Strategic business planning should be ongoing for as many years as the company trades.

An example of bad planning can be found without too much delving in to the archives. GSK’s 2009 search for a new manufacturing plant in Cumbria proved catastrophic. They already had an antibiotic factory in Ulverston so the local authority and business leaders were enthusiastic about persuading the pharmaceutical giant to make Ulverston its new home.

The authorities went so far as to suggest the site, which was agreed, and over the following years the town leaders improved the community resources and infrastructure so that GSK’s arrival would effectively signal a new dawn for the area.

In 2015, GSK’s official building project commenced; it was partly completed, some buildings had been opened and were in use when in 2016 the company announced that they were reconsidering their decision about being situated in Ulverston.

They later abandoned the manufacturing plant in Ulverston and it can be imagined how the local leaders, government and the community took the news.

The inevitable “post-mortem” took place. From blog posts to editorials to discussions over the garden wall people wanted to know how and why this ludicrous scenario played out as it did? We will probably never learn the truth but it has been suggested that poor strategic business planning was to blame.

If it was bad planning, would a better plan or perhaps an alternative have saved this negatively impacting reversal of decision?

GSK, a huge brand in the marketplace, had given no indication prior to their announcement that they had reservations, they’d sent the builders in and all seemed to be progressing well, from the outside.

Other arguments have been put forward that the proposal from local government was somehow lacking or that the abandonment came about thanks to an unrelated issue which became evident at a later stage.

The real story remains a mystery but we do know that strategic business planning is designed to ensure that massive errors like GSK’s embarrassment don’t occur.

A business plan is for start-ups, to get them off the ground and provides achievable goals which allow the firm to become a presence in their sector, grow by a desired degree or to roll out a project by a certain time.

Strategic business planning is what moves a company through its life cycle in stages. Think of it as creating the chapters in a book, the story of your organisation. Small adjustments can be made without too many issues, a blip like the GSK one can prove disastrous.

If strategic business planning is not a strength, you should speak to a highly experienced strategist and business coach like Peter Smith who works in partnership with Thames Valley Business Advisors.