Archives For Strategic Planning

Successful Strategy

November 9, 2017 — Leave a comment

GlobalSolutions

I was in a meeting with a senior executive recently, when he shared his concern that the processes and approaches the company is using to develop the corporate strategy may not take the business forward as planned, but backward. As we discussed his challenges, there were some key gaps that the organization was likely to fall into that could easily be avoided with a strong planning process. So, here are a few of the more prominent reasons organizations fall into the strategic planning gap…How many of these are evident in your business?

Reason Number 1: Lack of leadership engagement

One important reason behind a company’s inability to create a visible and viable strategy is that, frequently, key senior leaders are not appropriately engaged in the development process. This frequently means that critical success factors are not considered, priorities are unclear, and incomplete strategies are developed. Leaders must immerse themselves in the process to understand how the gears of the business engage – how their domain aligns to and fits with the other critical pieces within the corporation.  Critical insights and knowledgeable contributions regarding all aspects of the business will provide the pivot point for the strategic planning process – key decisions emerge from a compilation and understanding of leader’s perspectives. Companies often believe that strategic plans can be developed in one or two day strategic planning sessions – this is simply not true. Strategic planning is a dedicated process that is developed over a period of time with all senior leaders engaged and participating – not to mention, an ongoing process that drives the ability to stay ahead of the competition.  Without a strong process for engaging leaders and formulating strategic plans as a unit, companies often end up with plans that are meaningless from a strategic point of view.

Reason Number 2: Leaders lose sight of the difference between strategy and planning

Very often I come across companies that confuse strategy with planning.  The annual financial and operating planning process drives many corporate strategy exercises – which is a backward premise. They are different activities and should be treated as such: strategy is about developing a framework that drives future actions and decisions; planning is about resource allocation. Critical strategic decisions don’t fit within the annual planning timetable and neither should the strategy development process. When strategy and planning overlap, the plans thrust upon the organization are anything but strategic in nature. Upon closer examination one may find that these plans are (at best) a collection of tactical plans targeting operational efficiency – operational efficiency IS NOT by it’s nature strategic.

Reason Number 3: Too much data, too little insight vs. too much insight, too little data

Few companies have a structured process for scanning the environment and observing emerging trends. There is either an information drought or an overload of information – generally, there is no middle ground. When there is information, often companies do not know how to draw any strategic meaning from it. In the absence (or lack of usability) of relevant data, assumptions are made that may not reflect the reality of the environment, which means a rapid decline in credibility and relevance of the strategic plan. While it is definitely not advisable to engage in paralysis  by analysis – it is important to gather as many facts as you can, within a limited amount of time, apply what you know, and move forward with a decision.  It is key insights based on the information you have (depending on risk factors, often 80% is good enough), not excessive data, that will drive a successful strategy.

Reason Number 4: Insufficient alignment, commitment and communication.

When the process is structured correctly, the leadership team has invested significant time creating the strategy together. A common result is that they come to believe that the strategic intent is clear to everyone across the organization. In most companies this is far from reality, and the strategy is left to interpretation. This creates organizational misalignment, with group or divisional strategies not fitting comfortably within the whole.  The strategy process should include ensuring that executive alignment and commitment is strong, but also that sufficient time and effort is spent on communicating the strategy throughout the entire organization to ensure there is understanding, buy-in, and integration across the company. Problems often surface when there is a lack of alignment and integration – strategically, operationally, and interpersonally.

As an organization continues to deliberate strategy as an abstract concept or simply a mandated process, the typical result is that strategic plans are not living documents and do not deliver the desired results.  Any one of a million reasons can derail the strategic planning process. As this repeatedly occurs,  the concept of strategic planning is eroded to such an extent that the exercise is taken up just as another routine, isolated from the business of the company. The strategy process should bring rigor and challenge to the leadership team’s thinking – it should result in a strategic plan that is alive in everyone’s mind, engages community ownership, and provides a driving force that guides the company steadily toward competitive advantage.

Is your strategic planning process is on track?  Here are some potential indicators:

  • Are all of the organizational, divisional and team leaders engaged (at the appropriate levels)?
  • Is there a clear understanding, and separation, of strategy and planning? Is strategic planning a dedicated, ongoing process?
  • Is there good balance and perspective between data collection and business insight?
  • Do all the key players understand their place in the strategy and how it all fits together as a complete puzzle?
  • Is every leader, at every level, committed to the strategy? Is it a cohesive group effort?
  • Is there a strong communication component within the strategic plan?
  • Is the strategic plan a living, breathing document that everyone is working toward achieving?

There is only one way to a great strategic plan –  a dedicated, integrated strategic planning process that ensures a climate of trust and the innovative business ideas of leaders.

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you mind the strategic planning gaps in your organization. Please feel free to contact me at  Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back soon for the next installation of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.

Slide1In today’s demanding business environment (cost pressures, flatter organizations, more direct reports, “speed to market” as a competitive advantage, etc.) you have limited opportunity to devote time and energy to your own development. Most leaders struggle to meet all of the responsibilities of their positions and are too busy and too stressed to step back and learn from their experiences – or to implement changes that establish best practices. The one thing that is in no one’s best interest is for you, as a leader, to forsake your own learning and development – no matter what level you may be. In the current environment, Executive Coaching is one sure-fire way you can continue to develop your executive-level skills, as well as address your developmental and growth needs (which impacts the entire organization), while continuing to run your organization on a day to day basis. Continue Reading…

Innovation.   Integration.   Motivation.

Once last time, three simple words… Each of these is extremely complex and rarely executed.

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In order to win the war for global domination, we must engage both our colleagues and our employees on three key battlefields: Innovation, Integration and Motivation. This week, we will address the third of these combat zones: Motivation.

We don’t need Research to tell us that a motivated, engaged and responsive workforce is substantially more productive than unmotivated, apathetic troops. When workers feel engaged, they are more likely to work harder for the good of the company because they can see first-hand what their contributions mean to its success. Employees who work with passion and feel a deep connection to the company are the ones who drive innovation, take more initiative, deliver higher quality work and move the organization forward.

Want to encourage and inspire motivation? First, understand what motivation at work is – really. Continue Reading…

 

Innovation.   Integration.   Motivation.

Three simple words… however, implementation is extremely complex and rarely executed.

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In today’s challenging environment, leadership has never been more complex.  As leaders, we are the Commanders of our troops and have a responsibility to ensure we are consistently pushing forward to ensure victory. While the obvious route is to cut costs, limit availability of resources, manage cash efficiently and hold down the fort until reinforcements arrive – this is merely defensive maneuvering.  It is absolutely essential that we, as leaders, recognize that we cannot win the war of sustainable competitive advantage without going on the offensive to courageously engage people as a competitive weapon to ensure we are victorious. Continue Reading…

School of Hard Knocks

April 25, 2016 — 1 Comment

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.28.43 PMWe go to business school to learn all the right skills, but are we actually taught the right skills? Are young people coming to us from University adequately equipped to work in our world? Of course we all need to know the fundamentals of basic business management, but what about  those critical, but less obvious, competencies that leaders (formal and informal) must know in order to succeed? What are those essential skills not taught in business school that often cause high potential leaders to derail and never achieve their potential?

I was listening to Condoleeza Rice at an event this morning and she had some very interesting points regarding education (in addition to being a past Secretary of State, she has also been a University Provost and is currently a Professor at Stanford). She recognized the need to tighten the relationships between academia and business to better prepare people for the workforce they are entering… while also recognizing the enormity of such a lofty agenda. In my humble opinion, here are a few important aspects of leadership that are not taught in business school, but could definitely benefit from integration: Continue Reading…

We hear about viAlice_door copysion, mission statements and values often enough, but why are they so important? Similar to Alice unsuccessfully trying to open the door to Wonderland, you must have the right keys to shape your company’s culture and reflect what you stand for.  They are the essence of your identity as an organization – your principles, beliefs, philosophies… and how you do business. Woven into the fabric of its culture, every work environment should strive to encourage positive values and discourage negative influences that affect behavior and outcomes. We all possess a moral compass, defined via our values, which directs how we treat others and conduct ourselves. As an organization, this can be a powerful tool to shape culture. Ultimately, it does not come back to the company, but its people…

Arguably self-awareness and integrity are an important subset of values, but self-awareness and the pursuit of the truth are so important that they should be on every company’s list of values. If integrity is best described by C.S. Lewis as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching,” having the ability to be completely honest about your own strengths, weaknesses, and biases is critical. In developing an authentic, sustainable culture this applies not only to the leadership team, but to every single employee. Self-awareness and integrity are easy to lose… and hard to win back. When cultures are failing there are root causes that must be identified, but that can rarely be fixed quickly – and certainly not by policy and procedural changes. During challenging times, leaders tend want to drink from the blue bottle and — ta da! – see that the company culture is fixed. Unfortunately, building, evolving and transforming cultures takes both time and hard work.

Here are 6 core “keys” that will help you to build toward an amazing organizational culture:

Continue Reading…