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Business Theories & Strategies Applied to the County Council Libraries.

Management Theorist Henri Fayol (2002) describes Strategic Planning as examining the future and deciding what needs to be done by developing a plan of action. Price Waterhouse (2015) have developed a 4-step approach to Strategic Planning as can be seen in Figure 2

Figure 2

In the first stage, we must establish where we are now and in the case of the Council libraries the current situation is that there is one main library, twenty branch libraries and ten mobile libraries. These libraries excluding the mobile libraries link back to the Town Hall’s IT Centre. There are approximately 13-14 computers for use by staff and the public and a classroom of 6 computers used for training. We could use a strategic tool to analyse current trends such as the PESTLE or SWOT tool.

According to the Professional Academy (2015) PESTLE breaks the current external environment down into what is happening within the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental spheres. The factors influencing the Council libraries can be seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3


SWOT is also a widely-used tool to formally analyse the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that may exist as shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4

The SWOT Analysis shows what Council Libraries is good at and what it needs to improve. SWOT also shows whether the organisation can take advantage of any opportunities that may have arisen and also incorporates anything that may prove disadvantageous to the organisation.

Both SWOT and PESTLE are useful tools and can be applied to the Council libraries situation however tools such as Bowman’s Strategy Clock, Porters Five Forces and Boston Matrix would be less useful as these tools mainly focus on product strengths, weaknesses, marketing, suppliers and buyers which are more targeted at business’s wishing to market and sell a product.

The Second stage of Price Waterhouse’s 4 stage Plan is to look at the future direction of the company. This is where the Mayors Vision (2015) statement would be applicable.  The Council libraries can help to fulfil this vision by focusing on the mayors second and sixth promise with regard to providing meaningful training and promoting a sustainable environment. According to the Chartered Management Institute (2011) all objectives should be SMART:

Specific, outline in a clear statement precisely what is required;

Measurable, include a measure to enable you to monitor progress and to know when the objective has been achieved;

Achievable, objectives can be designed to be challenging, but it is important that failure is not built into objectives. Employees and managers should agree to the objectives to ensure commitment to them;

Realistic, focus on outcomes rather than the means of achieving them;

Timely (or time-bound), agree the date by which the outcome must be achieved.

According to Price Waterhouse the third stage of the 4-stage plan asks the question of How are we going to get there and this involves the detailing of all of the elements of the plan such as the process, staff required, resources required, goals, strategies, programme, portfolio, implementation, risks, monitoring and budgets. Often, Gantt Charts are used to detail the time frames and ensure everything proceeds smoothly, on time and within budget.

Proctor (2008) admits that the Ansoff matrix has been developed mainly for businesses with products to market however it may have its uses within the libraries implementation plan. The new solutions can be seen as products which need growth strategies. The Ansoff matrix provides 4 growth strategies and these have been applied to the Council libraries as shown in Table 1

Table 1

Stage 4 of the 4-stage plan asks how will we know when we get there and Steiner (2010)  recognises that this involves monitoring and evaluation using a PLAN: ACTION: REVIEW approach and to do this effectively Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should be used which basically monitor, measure and assess the newly placed solutions.

Author:- Paul McCherry Bsc(Hons)

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