By Rob Hill

A major misconception regarding strategic planning prevents many club managers and committees from charting a course for success.

The misconception is that strategic planning, given its traditional long-range horizons, is somehow less urgent than other tasks. That somehow preparing for the future is a luxury afforded only by clubs that can afford it.

Consequently, many managers and committees prioritise far less important duties.

But, rapidly evolving consumer preferences and the financial realities that come with these, suggest there is a need for not only a greater sense of urgency, but also for a closer connection between strategy and execution.

The speed of change today is unprecedented and unrelenting. A decade ago, there were no smartphones. Three decades earlier, there were no personal computers. In the last two decades, those devices, in combination with the internet, have created (and destroyed) entire industries. Today, artificial intelligence and robotics have the same potential.

Change gives consumers a choice: embrace it at their own pace or not at all. Business leaders do not have that option. As Jack Welch, the former CEO at GE, famously said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

Confusing this environment even further for some club leaders is a lingering doubt – is strategic planning really worth it? As one manager described it recently “our planning process is a bit of a dog and pony show. My committee pretend to develop a strategy, so that I can pretend to implement it”.

For our team at GGA, we are fortunate to see the transformative powers of great strategy on a regular basis. We stand witness to the energy and progress it brings to clubs that are already market leaders, as well as those that strive to be.

However, conscious that such narrative can be understandably perceived as bias, when I was invited to speak on the topic at the upcoming CMAE Conference in Portugal this November 17-19, I questioned whether I was best placed to communicate these messages of urgency and value.

My thoughts immediately went to some of the brilliant strategists I have collaborated with over recent years, and how their stories are more worthy than my own. And I believe, more impactful than my own.

I am incredibly grateful therefore, to those who will join me in Portugal to share their real-life experiences with strategy - Marc Newey, CEO at Roehampton Club, Javier Reviriego, GM at Real Club Valderrama, and James Burns, GM at Milltown Golf Club.

Together we will explore how they develop and manage strategy. They will share why they believe strategic planning is both urgent and worth it, so that delegates need not just take my word for it.

Rob Hill will present this session at the European Conference on 17-19 November. For more information on the CMAE European Conference click here