You know the annual drill: you and your teams gather data, identify trends, set goals and develop action plans. Your reward for producing a strategic plan? A stress-anxiety-exhaustion hangover and the assurance that your plan will be outdated or irrelevant by end of year.
Where traditional strategic planning has become overly complex and time-consuming, AI-powered knowledge services like ChatGPT, Bard and ChatSonic are transforming our ability to imagine business scenarios and complete our strategic plans in less time with fewer resources. From simplifying complex tasks and speeding up processes to providing insightful data analysis that deepens our decision-making, below are five ways generative AI is reshaping strategic planning.
1. Power of the prompt. The right prompts enable your teams to uncover novel market insights and generate innovative marketing and implementation strategies. This prompt-command approach can simplify strategic planning by generating specific, actionable insights that directly address your company’s goals and challenges, reducing time and effort spent on data analysis and idea-generation.
To this end, you could ask AI to provide a list of five new marketing strategies that would be effective in reaching your target audience. The AI would then analyze your data and identify trends that could be used to create successful marketing campaigns.
Sample prompt: “Write a paragraph in the tone and style of our Director of Sales [insert Full Name Here] that introduces our new value proposition to our legacy customers.”
2. Scenarios on-demand. Generative AI can calculate hundreds of potential scenarios or strategic-planning elements with a single prompt. Scenario examples could range from a “stricter government regulation of your best-selling product” or “a natural disaster in China disrupts your supply chain” to “breakthroughs in AI lead to innovations that render your service irrelevant.”
Upon reviewing these, teams can generate further scenarios that combine multiple events or outcomes. AI’s capacity for creativity, innovation and future-proofing could reduce the fatigue of strategic-planning sessions — and boost productivity in everyday brainstorms.
Sample prompt: “Generate 10 scenarios that could negatively impact our ability to accomplish the goals in this strategic plan.” Follow-up prompt: “If both Scenario A and Scenario F occur in the next 12 months, what are five possible solutions we should be prepared to implement?”
3. Use as a virtual focus group. Imagine your strategic plan receiving feedback from insightful stakeholders in less than a minute. By directing the AI to assume the role of a customer, competitor or even a regulator, your teams can gain valuable viewpoints that could be overlooked otherwise.
For example, AI can generate insights from your target demographic’s perspective about product usability, pain points, preferences and potential improvements. This shortcut can significantly improve your company’s product development, marketing strategies or better anticipate regulatory requirements. (But remember to avoid sharing sensitive and proprietary info on any AI platform.)
Sample prompt: “Create a table that shows first impressions of our strategic plan from the perspectives of a Senior Sales Leader, Product Manager, Legacy Customer, New Customer and Yoda from Star Wars.”
4. Summarize in seconds. A time-saving solution provided by AI-based services includes digesting and summarizing large volumes of text, video or other data to drive your strategic planning process. During the info-gathering or research phase, teams can feed a document or link with thousands of words — word limits vary by platform — and instruct it to identify the key points in paragraph form or even organize it into outline form.
In later phases of the planning process, AI can also serve as an editor, providing an objective opinion on how the strategic plan will likely be interpreted by various stakeholders.
Sample prompt: “Read this document and provide five actionable steps that a CTO in the cryptocurrency industry might take in response.”
5. Optimized content creation. In addition to generating text, AI can also be used to create visual content for your strategic plan. This includes reports, presentations, and charts or graphs that visually enhance your plan and enable you to communicate it more effectively.
To illustrate, you could ask AI to create a report that summarizes the key findings of your strategic plan. The report could include charts and graphs that illustrate the data, making it easier for stakeholders to understand the findings. You could also ask AI to create a presentation that outlines your strategic plan and include visuals that highlight the key points of your plan.
Sample prompt: “In five pages or fewer, create a report for our executive team that uses visuals like charts and graphs to illustrate the key findings and data of our strategic planning in the following document…”
AI can give your teams the necessary insights and tools to anticipate challenges and opportunities in 2024 and beyond. From delivering industry-specific insights and scenario-planning to data analysis and charts that bring your data to life, it has the potential to revolutionize strategy sessions forever. My prediction is that AI will eventually reshape the strategic planning process into a more efficient, effective — and potentially fun experience.