The Imperative of Strategic Thinking

Introduction

In today’s environment of global coordination and competitiveness where organizations structures and strategies must go beyond market and nation’s physical boundary, strategizing has never been more significant and challenging. Nevertheless, management need to consider thoughtfully ways of creating value for consumers and method of effectively tackling competition. According to Bryson (2018, p. 24) and Steiner (2010) importance of strategic planning lies in tendency to answer ways and scheduling of business plans but largely fails to capture categorically the essence of thinking strategically. Therefore, strategic thinker answers the ‘what’ and ‘why’ elements in the organizational planning process. Strategic thinking as explained by Baumgartner and Korhonen (2010) requires innovativeness and creativity and largely takes into account the needs and expectation of consumers, employee, and practices in the respective industry. Fundamentally, it is a process of taking an in-depth evaluation and assessment of responsibilities and tasks in attempt to capture adequately the needs of customers and making sure their aligning defined strategic imperatives (Bryson, 2018, p. 23; Allison, and Kaye, 2011, p. 34).

Therefore, this essay will propose a strategic objective for fit fixed while taking Ukactive non-profit fitness body as a case study. Ukactive is a not-for-profit industry association that primarily focuses on promoting values of community leisure and fitness centres. Its core mission is getting “more people, more active, more often” and enhancing public health through advocating for active lifestyles. It consists of more than 3500 members. Originally, the association was part of Fitness Industry Association (FIA) established in 1991 with aims to “to promote a healthier and more physically active nation through raising standards within the health and fitness industry”. Traditionally, the approach towards promoting healthier society by the FIA and later Ukactive was incorporating the society, governmental agencies, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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Strategic Objective for Fit Fixed

Studies have extensively outlined ideas and models grounding shaping public health through expansion the role of held citizen. According to Chi et al. (2009, p. 3) and Thompson (2009, p. 4, this role is multifaceted that included consumer in the health market, individual health, social activist, and patient in health system. Recently, remodelling has revolved around taking healthy living to the grass roots ensuring the public are part of the larger framework of introducing better and fitter living (Markula, 2017, p. 4; Straker, and Mathiassen, 2009, p. 3). For instance, in 2004, secretaries of education and health Charles Clarke and John Reid unveiled a framework for children aimed at delegating health duties and responsibilities across the public services (Tempest, 2005). Through the approach, all the teachers and practitioners in nursery schools to college levels have to receive extra training ensuring they have consistent competency for children services. Ideally, the competencies levels promote the welfare of children by identifying early signs of mental problems and developmental disorders, offering supporting structures for transition from primary to secondary schooling, and promote healthy living (Martin, 2018).

Strategy is about choices choosing on what to do, opportunities to take, problems to solve, and threats to tackle. But most importantly, what not to do such as the factors that a company should avoid. For Fit Fixed, opportunities in the market are pretty huge give the potential where individual fitness is becoming an essential aspect for many workers perceiving exercise as best medicine to destress, have fun, and attaining physical and mental fitness. Therefore, the company should be concern with having an in-depth view and understanding of the problems and opportunities faced, threats in the industry, and internal and external challenges. For Fit Fixed to think strategically towards remodelling its approach in the fitness industry, it has to align to the following objectives.

To make best use of available resources (equipment and human resource) by increasing attendance rate Secondly, empower people to create healthy living habits by helping improve own mental and physical wellbeing Thirdly, to build a supportive and inclusive culture through offering quality training, coaching facilities, and incorporate a living shaped with a healthier standards

Strategic tools for Fit Fixed

In order to attain the above objectives, Fit Fixed as a business entity need to have a strategy that emphasis and set a roadmap to success need a to focus on thinking strategically rather than implementing organization aims and goals without consideration of its core values, customer needs, and market environment. Roundabout model by Sola and Couturier (2013) is built on a belief that strategy is not leaner but subsequent series of steps with number of loops. Theoretically, a strategy is a continuous process encompassing numerous variables such consumer needs and expectation, technological innovation, policy, and competition in the market. Any strategy taken consist of numerous loops including challenges that are, to larger extent, unavoidable. Sola and Couturier (2013) explains that the assumption made during initiation and planning stages of the project or setting business objectives were not correct or the parameters used in setting up the aims and goals. Given that objectives and goals are about the future that can only be predicated without absolute certainty. According to (REF), goals either organizational or business entities are always hypothesis of variables to achieve, ways of attaining these goals, and in other cases descriptive view of the current situation.

Additionally, organizational culture, human capital (team members and trained personnel), facilities, and adherence to business requirements (licencing). Argument set by Steiner (2010, p. 54) and Bailey et al. (2018, p. 23) considers strategic planning as a bargaining platform towards achieving social and economic goals and objectives through aligning resources to represent these elements. In addition to identifying and describing the problem faced either internally or externally, developing a workable and effective strategy requires a careful balancing logically and creatively of alternative (in the form of choices). It encompasses taking into account time, facilities, human capital, and financial resources assessing required variables in each stage and approach against expected results pitching against one another to derive best alternative.

Establishing and implementing a right strategy is critical component in achieving effectively goals and objectives of an organization. According to Boxall and Purcell (2011, p. 6) and Jiang et al. (2012, p. 6), ultimate performance of an organization is grounded on right resources including human capital and physical assets working on the right things while coordinating efficiently and effectively. As such, absence of consistent strategy and integrated approach by Fit fixed will ultimately result in unclear accountability, poor decision making, and confusion. These stage describe the significance of developing team. Sola and Couturier (2013) argued that team aid in developing a discussed and deliberated method. Particularly, a diverse group will bring different perspective and ideas during uncovering the situation and development of different solution to the problem.

Challenges faced by small enterprises in fitness

Numerous studies are available on approaches of fixing individual and the larger part of society’s health and healthy lifestyle. According to Bititci et al. (2012, p. 3) and Spear et al. (2009, p. 4), making a permanent changes focused in reshaping health and fitness requires developing structures aligned to innovativeness, use effectively available resources, and accommodating the vastness of challenges health problems. In fitness industry, as asserted Andreasson and Johansson (2014, p. 96), physical landscape has changed significantly in the past few years as well as a significant raise in the number of gym including introduction of low-cost gym and boutique providing public a variety and wide choice. In the last two decades, global transformation in fitness industry has seen an intense competition due to ease of establishing fitness facilities but recent availability of information about fitness and ways of achieving healthier lifestyle resulted in its decline (ibid, p. 101). According to Thompson (2011, p. 10), there is no fixated and structured approach to healthy living but rather frequent adjustment to accommodate new challenges, arising problems related to health, and innovate in combating unhealthy living in gyms and acrobatic facilities. These changes is not limited to improvement towards achieving healthier living but creating a competitive environment for expansion and competitiveness in the industry. Nevertheless, management in the industry has also evolved over the years.

Currently, many organizations try to structure their values and objectives to be everything to everyone diversifying its resources and products in attempt to accommodating and reach out to larger consumer base. As a result, most of these organizations end up wasting resources and time in markets and products that may provide little or never achieve a worthwhile investment returns. Strategic thinking makes sure the planning process in business aligned to innovativeness, problem solving, tackling challenges, drawing a roadmap, and operational planning towards development of business structures and methods with greater success potential (Kapferer, 2012, p. 51; Crawford et al., 2013, p. 3). As asserted by Zautra et al. (2010, p. 4) and Parrish (2010, p. 4), organizations continue to learn that their growth, development, and sustainability are not always subject to past experiences but depend on the preparation and strategizing on future sustainability and growth. Hence, should not entirely ground their future process and strategy on past approaches and experiences.

Organizational culture

As pointed by Sola and Couturier (2013), key component in roundabout strategic approach is organizational culture. Arayesh et al. (2017, p. 4) and Schein (2010, p. 21) explained that a culture adopted by an organizational has a profound impact on its decisions. Alvesson (2012) and Arayesh et al. (2017, p. 5) argued that culture in an organizational environment forms the foundation of strategies affecting communication and strategizing process including relation building. In this perspective, developing strategies that take advantage of organizational values, strengths, and mission, Fit Fixed can achieve the above objectives (attendance rate, supportive healthy culture, and aiding in improving individual physical and mental health) faster and effectively. Subsequently, well established culture will ultimately rejects or rather oppose strategies and proposed structures that may cause confusion (Zheng et al., 2010, p. 3; Alvesson, and Sveningsson, 2015, p. 51; Hartnell et al. 2011, p. 2). Furthermore, a culture integrated by an organization (Fit Fixed) creates a sense of belonging and feeling of identify to not only the staff members but all shareholders. Importantly, setting a boundary by a shared values and beliefs helps to form a special obligation directed towards achieving organizational goals (Arayesh et al. (2017, p. 6; Alvesson, and Sveningsson, 2015, p. 51). Fundamental aspects in strategic thinking is aligning objectives and subsequent tasks into organizational culture, traditional ways of doing things, assessment, observing, and level of standards.

Challenges and setting goals

Although challenges faced by organizations may vary, most prevalent faced within the fitness industry include uncertainty about future, financial management, employee and overall company’s performance, regulation and policy compliance, and change in culture and technology. According to Kardakis et al. (2013, p. 81), it critical for an organization to identify and learn core challenges. As explained by Sola and Couturier (2013) identifying and have an in-depth understanding of core challenges and potential problems faced, will aid a company to choose battles fight and opportunities to take advantage. For example, notably Fit Fixed is a small enterprise comprising of only two staff members hence offering a competitiveness and effective services in line to concepts held by Ukactive on consumer focus can be a big challenge but more so financial sources and human resources may present a major challenges.

As solution to the identified core challenges for example financial difficulties, human resources, and competition in the market, the enterprise may draw a roadmap and structure a strategy integrating the potential problems and threats. During strategizing having a clear concept of market structure, expectation, and needs as well as insight into organizations strength and weaknesses helps in formulation of well-thought approaches. It projects potential problem aiding setting solution and ways of tackling those challenges. Arguing on aspects of problem solving, Weisberg (2015) and Kim & Grunig (2011) articulated that it prudent to define the problem through identification of the issues faced or potential challenges in case of business environment or project. For example, Fit Fixed must identify and analysis the issues that it currently or it could face such as the workplace policies, human resources, and operating procedures.

Uncovering situation

At this stage, the problem should be defined in terms of scope and fundamental variables but avoiding describing or postulating in terms of solution. Jones & Jones (2013, p. 106) and Van Aken & Berends (2018, p. 35) emphasised on resisting from focusing on solution more than problem. For instance, ‘need to improve fitness’ focuses on goals rather than the problem faced. As such, Fit Fixed need identify inconsistency in individual health, lack of human and financial resources, qualification levels of the staff, meaning of coaching and managing fitness business, and competition from established entities. Although setting goals and objectives are important part in running a business entity, the focus in problem solution should not be grounded on these goals but instead core challenges as faced by consumers or individual such as raising obesity or prevalence of relapse into inactivity. Evidently, problems in fitness industry is not availability of information or facilities where for instance, a person can buy magazine or watch YouTube videos stipulating fitness strategy and ways of maintaining fitness that, if followed, will bare good results (Moxham, and Wiseman, 2009, p. 7; Sparling, 2010, p. 6).

Furthermore, most people understanding health problems emanating from drinking wine before bed, eating junk food, creamy cupcakes, and importance of dieting but business entities should go beyond providing information to developing a consumer-oriented approach taking into consideration of individual needs and expectation in fitness organization. In this perspective, according to Jain and Ahuja (2013), failure in development of fitness strategy can be traced back to limited or lack of motivation and empowerment to people to adhere to fitness program. Particularly, most small enterprises in the industry emphasises on changing nutrition, maintaining diet, and following workout plan but little focus on motivating individuals to strict to program (Spear et al., 2009, p. 7; Kravitz, 2011, p. 3; Markula, 2017, p. 2). It perceive program as secondary component. As described in Roundabout model, the drawn roadmap to fitness need to implemented in a manner that captures core objectives

Managing execution and uncertainty

Developing a strategy for small enterprise in fitness such as Fit Fixed requires not provision of information on importance or ways of achieving fitness but rather offering direction of attaining healthy living. In the age of information where people have enough information although some be conflicting, the role of fitness individual and facilities is no longer providing information but making sense of available and held information as well as setting a platform for clients to make a more educated decision (Sola, and Couturier, 2013; Markula, 2017, p. 6; Garcia-Fernandez et al. 2014, p. 6; Thompson, 2011, p. 9). In this light, Fit Fixed need to offering unbiased perspective on approach towards healthy lifestyle that include nutrition and physical activity. Importantly, trainers should be able to conceptualise reasons for failure of individual approach on before presenting with planned strategy to follow also making sure availability of choices.

Secondly, establishing fitness approaches structured in a manner that offers support structured to track results of clients is another key element in developing fitness strategy. According to Barnes et al. (2016) and Macintosh & Doherty (2007), providing supporting structures to clients ensures everyone is in track and follows structured approach in achieving healthy living. In small entities such as Fit Fixed, providing adequate supporting measures and environment geared towards offering support to all customers can be problematic because resources (human capital), facilities, and financial elements. Nevertheless, Fit Fixed should strive to incorporate all members as well as immediate community through encouraging and supporting both physically and mentally (Thompson, 2011, p. 9; McKenzie, 2013; p. 27; Pedragosa, and Correia, 2009, p. 8). Lastly, another key variable in developing a working fitness strategy that meets its core objectives is taking into account the values and beliefs of consumers. According to Pedragosa and Correia (2009, p. 8) and Harvey et al. (2014, p. 8), an individual values and beliefs are conditioned on perspective held and interpretation of surrounding in relation to expectation of others. As an enterprise, Fit Fixed need to have a deep grasp of values and beliefs of the client including the personal goals (reducing weight, maintaining body shape, or body building). These individual values should act as basis of developing fitness strategies and structures.

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Conclusion

Building from the argument posted by Sola and Couturier (2013) in Roundabout model, developed strategy should always be aligned to organizational culture. Coming up with solution to fitness by Fit Fixed that do not conform to its core values and beliefs will ultimately present much bigger problems during execution and implementation. After identification of the problems faced, it prudent to brainstorm methods of achieve the objectives assessing each stage to ensure they are in line with organizational values otherwise reconsider the hypothesis. Additionally, before implementation there is need to reduce uncertainty of the strategy developed. The essence of reducing uncertainty in approach to be implemented lies in assumption of lack precision will undermine the entire process. Mostly, the executive in business environment underestimate uncertainty while laying down objective, goals, and vision of an organization. This can present a dangerous precedent due to having strategies that do not protect a company against threats or taking advantage of available opportunities. In essence, thinking strategically require taking into account different perspective and opinion in order to develop an in-sight understanding in challenges and problems encountered. The fundamental component in developing an effective strategy with high potential of success is founded on not the achievability of goals, qualification of employees, or available resources but largely on extent to which one have insight of challenges encountered. Moreover, organization (Fit Fixed) must have structures for evaluating and readjusting approaches formulated in attempt to incorporate challenges and changes faced during execution.

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