Strategic Planning: Scanning the Horizon

By: Craig Dobbins​, Allan GrayMichael Boehlje, Alan Miller & Cole Ehmke                              May 01, 2004


Any planning activity involves thinking about the future. However, the focus of strategic planning is not on predicting the future, but instead on making better decisions here and now in order to reach a desired future. Because the future cannot be known with certainty, farm business managers must make certain assumptions about what the future will hold. An important part of the strategic planning process is to recognize and explicitly state any key assumptions about the future business environment or markets. To be successful, the farm business manager must find a fit between what the market wants and what the farm provides, as well as between what the business environment or markets will provide and what the farm needs. 

Strategic planning requires that, in thinking about the future, managers have information about both the external economic environment in which the farm business operates and the internal characteristics of the farm business. This publication provides information on how to assess the external environment. It includes two worksheets to help you assess the external business environment, “Applying the Five Forces Model” and “Assessing Opportunities and Threats.” The information developed as part of the assessment process will provide data for the development and evaluation of alternatives. 

In conducting a market assessment, the farm business manager reviews and evaluates information from the external business environment. The focus is on expected market and business changes over which the manager has little or no control. There are two facets of this outside review: 1) the social environment and 2) the industry environment, on which this publication concentrates.

For a PDF of the full paper, click here​​​​.​

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