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BBI of Chicago
February 2022

From thought to co-creation: challenges and opportunities in implementing strategic planning in small businesses

By: Samuel de Cerqueira Longo.

It is estimated that 60% of companies close before completing their fifth year of activity and that one of the main reasons for that is the lack of strategic planning. Large companies tend to have greater access to information and specialized teams to design good strategic models. However, small companies, and especially those with a family structure, still face challenges in this process (CESARINO & SUDO, 2011).

For the most part, family organizations have a reduced number of hierarchical levels and support activities, which causes their company structure to focus on the owner. This centralization of power and the excess of operational tasks in the manager's day-to-day activities lead to an overload of responsibilities, leaving little time for planning. Furthermore, the problem is not instantly solved if the manager perceives the need for change to keep the company competitive in the market; because they may face resistance from employees, who are often the manager's relatives and are used to always working in the same way (CESARINO & SUDO, 2011).

Behavioral economics theorist Kahneman (2018) understood this behavior as what he called the law of least effort: as you specialize in a task, the demand for brain energy decreases. Thus, even though there are several ways to reach the same goal, people will end up acting in a way that requires less mental and physical effort on their part, hence the resistance to change.

Noticing this behavior, Sousa and Dias (2017) highlighted the importance of strategic thinking for implementing strategic planning. According to the authors, strategic planning, by itself, rarely allows for the creation of innovative strategies with the participation of the company's director only. Strategic thinking, however, makes strategic planning more dynamic, making room for intuition, creativity, and innovation, with the participation of people at all decision levels.

On one hand, if the manager of a small company faces challenges in implementing strategic planning. On the other hand, they may notice that more horizontal people relationships are fertile ground for developing strategic thinking. The closer connection between employees can be an opportunity to co-create joint ideas and more creative solutions to internal and external problems faced by these companies.

It is not by chance that many companies have started to adopt design-based strategies in recent years, not only in the development of products and services but also in business management, such as the design thinking approach. Structured in well-established steps, design thinking as a tool for strategic thinking allows you to imagine scenarios and test alternatives to problems. For such, Reche & Janissek-Muniz (2018) emphasized that the contribution of human material is essential, that is, of all the people involved in the processes and that are necessary for the final result.

In an increasingly more creative and shared economic scenario, thinking strategically and valuing the knowledge of all actors, and integrating the experiences of people who are the foundations of organizations is as important as the numbers and projections of strategic planning for the longevity of small companies in the market.


1. CESARINO, L. O., SUDO, B. T. O desafio da implantação de um plano estratégico em uma microempresa familiar do setor alimentício. Revista Gestão e Desenvolvimento. v. 8, n. 1, p. 61-71, 2011.

2. KAHNEMAN, D. Rápido e devagar: duas formas de pensar. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva, 2018

3. RECHE, M. M., JANISSEK-MUNIZ, R. Inteligência estratégica e design thinking: conceitos complementares, sequenciais e recorrentes para estratégia inovativa. Future Studies Research Journal: Trends and Strategies. v. 10, n.1, p. 82-108, 2018.

4. SOUSA, J. C.; DIAS, P. H. R. C. Integração do planejamento estratégico ao pensamento estratégico. Revista de Ciências da Administração. v. 19, n. 47, p. 30-44, 2017.


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