Support systems for new activities in rural areas
Part 2 - Individual services
Defining strategic orientation
How to use this guide & Table of Contents
Defining then asserting what one wants to do
and how to do it - the strategy - supposes that
each project promoter envisages possible
objectives, retains some of them, puts them
in order of priority, determines the paths to be
followed to achieve them, identifies the ways and
procedures to be used, works out a timetable, etc.
This is a complex operation, which is decisive
for working out the resulting business plan and
involves far more than simply gathering and
processing the data, requiring considerable
thought on the part of the project promoters
with the help of able operators.
Common problems and bottlenecks
Recommendations and guidelines
- Too many resources are spent on short-term allocation and training without
a clear strategy for channelling the energy and ideas that emerge towards
the projects which have real potential for success.
The Mission Agro-Alimentaire des Pyrénées (France) recommends a 7-stage
process for turning ideas into realities (1):
1. Ensure that there are qualified advisors present who can pose the right
problems at very early stages of project life cycles.
2. Carry out an audit or x-ray of local production and resources.
3. Carry out a market study (2).
4. Imagine and contrast different possible scenarios.
5. Define and choose the best project in the context.
6. Carry out small-scale test runs.
7. Evaluate the test run, make changes and launch the project on a larger
(but ideally still modest) scale.
Carrying out a small-scale test run is particularly important. Too many
projects only superficially carry them out, or do not carry them out at
In the case of a totally new or inexperienced project promoter, completion
of these tasks can take between 6 months and 2 years, depending on the
availability of resources and the complexity of the project.
Many LAGs and development agencies (such as the Tarn-des-Montagnes LEADER
group and the Mission Agro-Alimentaire des Pyrénées, France) emphasise the
importance of the amount of "grey matter" to be mobilised at the beginning
of the projects.
- The strategy for the activity to be created is defined (with or without
outside experts) "after the event", when it is too late or at least when it
is extremely difficult to change direction.
- Strategy and hard economic knowledge of the market place is confused with
theory. Many LAGs have commissioned enormous academic studies which are of
little use in practice.
- There is little or no relationship between what are often extremely general
strategic principles in the business plan and operational tactics.
(1) See the LEADER dossier "Developing local agricultural resources: the
experience of LEADER I" (LEADER European Observatory / AEIDL, 1995).
(2) For more details on the application of these last two points to the
tourism sector, see the "Methodology guide for evaluating a territory's
touristic potential" (LEADER European Observatory / AEIDL, 1996)