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    4 Replies Latest reply on Oct 23, 2007 11:11 AM by SOLVED

    Strategic Planning in a Vacuum

    SOLVED Newbie

      Please let me know if you find the information below helpful...


      Strategic Planning in a Vacuum

      We all know that successful strategic planning is the result of careful preparation, but should the planning exercise itself be treated as an executive level project? Should the brains of the organization lock themselves in a room and emerge with the plan that will lead the organization into the future? Is there a better, more sustainable way to have strategy defined and executed throughout the organization?


      I would argue that always knowing the 'who', 'what', 'when' and 'how' of current, as is, day-to-day functions of an organization is the only way to effectively devise and implement a strategy. After all, if the people in an organization aren't looking for a better way to help the organization succeed then the implementation of whatever is not going to be embraced and the plan is going to fail.


      So how does a strategic planning process live and breathe, understand the 'who', 'what', 'when' and 'how', let's call them people, process, and tools (often technology), and orchestrate the strategies that will help the organization become more efficient and competitive going forward?


      Always Know Your People


      The first step is to understand the people in an organization, the thinkers (management) and the doers (the people that actually do the work). This can be done by treating the people like customers and consistently polling and surveying them with regards to processes and technologies as well as the work environment. Having a workplace with Baby Boomers, GenX-ers, and GenY-ers will result in very different process, technology, and environment preferences. The speed at which change can be adopted by different people varies as well.


      Processes Should Always Improve but Keep Some Control


      This should be one of the more controversial aspects of Strategic Planning. In my experiences with clients implementing process improvements, custom applications, ERP, CRM, HRIS, IT, or any other large change initiative, there needs to be attention devoted to capturing business processes and maintaining that definition for continued control.


      However, process definition should not mean that people should not deviate from a defined process if they have found a better way to do things. If that's the case the process model (workflow, process map, model, etc.) should be flexible enough to be updated with the change and have the change communicated to all impacted suppliers and customers to the process. There is no need to wait for the next project or strategic session to make an improvement. Having a rapid method in place to embrace change will create an environment familiar with adopting change and therefore make it easier when significant changes are introduced as part of a Strategic Planning process. These are quick wins that your strategy can take credit for; after-all implementing this new way of being adaptive is a strategy in itself.


      About that Strategic Plan


      Getting Strategic Planning on the level of people and processes and being familiar with the tools in place will get alignment and understanding among strategic planners, various units and geographies on how things currently operate. In very large organizations, many managers and key stakeholders do not have a big-picture view of 'who', 'what', 'when' and 'how' things are getting done. Understanding people, process and technology will help develop clarity on what is working well and what is broken within the operating environment and this will create the roadmap for what the Strategic Plan should address.


      Knowing your people, processes and technologies will help your Strategic Plan deliver tangible and visible benefits. Your people have told you what they need, so determining how you will measure success should be simple and measurable.

      We're Enterprise Solved and we're trying to figure this all out...


        • Re: Strategic Planning in a Vacuum
          DomainDiva Ranger
          This article was very good. However it does not seem to address 'strategic planning' in the wake of new and emerging technologies. That is the ongoing analysis of news, media etc to keep up with what is new with business applications, how applications are being used as well as what is being published by the uber teckies @ MIT and other institutions.

          At our company (which I founded) weekly sometimes daily 'info bursts' are sent out and posted on our web based company management site. (Plug for BaseCamp here...). By keeping up with the new technology developments, we have been able to incorporate code into our kernel that will enable us to quickly bring new product modules to our customers, as well as to be Web 3.0 ready. We also look at what everyone else is doing and are constatntly comparing it to what we do to make sure that we will be the better choice both for product and price.
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Strategic Planning in a Vacuum
              SOLVED Newbie
              Thanks for this excellent feedback.

              Our methodology addresses emerging technologies and other external factors as they would relate to 'strategic planning', 'people', 'process', and 'technology' during the Risk Assessment phase and the entire methodology is rapid and repeatable to limit gaps.

              I like the idea of incorporating regular 'info bursts' for businesses that warrant them and have a process to improve accordingly.

              I will try to get you a snapshot of our methodology.
            • Re: Strategic Planning in a Vacuum
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              This may be semantics, but to me, strategic planning means deciding what the enterprise as a whole will become in the future, and choosing the general path it will follow to get there. How far in the future depends on the industry -- e.g., the strategic time span for my clients in the music business is about 18 months, but it's about 20 years for my utility clients. This aspect of strategic planning is a job for the owners and senior executives in my view. Tactical plans and operational plans are developed at lower levels, and involve more people.

              If planning efforts are properly aligned, the question, "How are we going to achieve our strategic objective or vision?" is answered by a set of tactical plans, and "How are we going to do THAT exactly?" is answered by various operational plans. Virtually everyone on the payroll should be involved in operational planning, but it's a comparatively simple and continual process.

              People are dynamic. The mix of individuals in an organization changes constantly, and so does the level of knowledge, skill, experience, judgment, confidence, and motivation of any one individual to perform his or her job. We EXPECT managers to develop the people we have so those people can become the people we need to fulfill the mission. If it's a worthy mission, everyone wins.

              So with my clients (and my own companies), I use all the same tools you outline in your People ShapshotTM (great stuff there, by the way) -- but I use them to assess who/where people are now, so we can better understand how to develop them. In other words, we use the methodology as a way to develop people around a strategy, not as a way to develop a strategy around the people. I'm not suggesting that either approach is right or wrong, just offering feedback (and if I've totally missed the point of your article and services, then I hope you'll consider that to be useful feedback in itself).
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Strategic Planning in a Vacuum
                  SOLVED Newbie

                  Lighthouse 24:


                  Thanks for the posting, it is right on!


                  The statement "we use the methodology as a way to develop people around a strategy, not as a way to develop a strategy around the people..." is what led to the creation of the Enterprise Solved methodology which I can share with you. Please email and ask for the Methodology overview.


                  We saw too many companies trying to develop their people around a strategy without first understanding their 'people' capabilities, and in some cases not knowing the value of their resources ('people', 'technology', and in some cases 'process') prior to formulating a strategy.


                  The first iteration of the methodology is a strategic alignment exercise. The following strategic deployments, utilizing the methodology, would be aligned but include initiatives, deployments, and greater change.