What's Missing in Strategic Planning, Pt. 2

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   Last month I expressed some thoughts about what's missing in strategic planning.   Though the conversation really requires a much more in depth discussion than this format here are considerations all of our organizations need for survival.
  1. Scenario Planning:  We can no longer put together plans that show a path from A to Z.  Consider that this morning Moody's lowered the bond rating for Germany, a global leader in education, health care, and manufacturing that has kept Europe from collapsing.  How many U.S. cities are facing bankruptcy because previous administrations existed on unrealistic business models? Historically Intel started out as a memory chip manufacturer, a business they completely abandoned in later years.  Anyone invested in Myspace (RIP)?  We must consider in the volatility of global economics we live in that there are multiple possibilities and prepare adequately for each.  A couple of sources include Scenario Planning in Organizations (eBook) and this article from Kuan-Chou Chen, the IT Department head at Purdue-Calumet. Being capable and prepared for multiple scenarios requires:
  2. Flexibility:  In America in particular but elsewhere as well our organizations are buried in bureaucracy and hierarchical structures with organizational charts that have a lot of white space in between them.  That leads to protectionism among departments, budgets, and individuals and kills innovation and creativity. Having even recently seen business owners trying to revive their firms with 1970's business models,1990's pricing and no concept of 2020, let alone 2012, flexibility at all levels of the organization is mandatory. "But that's not how we do things here" is a call for a coroner. You can't preach flexibility and change from the top and remain in a tower separated from the rest of your team and customers. There are some ways that the Agile Management and Holacracy have gotten it right in terms of engagement and communication which builds trust and adaptability.
    Holacracy - Robertson
  3. Adaptability:  If you're not aware of how much we fight change you're not paying attention. The fact remains that global and technological changes happen so fast that like the MySpace example opportunities to achieve momentary strategic advantage pass us by.  Were the Big Three ready for Toyota, Honda and now Hyundai or the move to hybrid vehicles and higher gas mileage?  Dell computers once swore they'd never be anything but direct-to-consumer seller.  Been in Best Buy lately?  Oh, they sell Dells now.  As leaders and managers it's imperative that we understand what motivates ourselves and followers to change so we can more easily see and capture every fleeting opportunities. Read (or watch) Daniel Pink, Howard Gardner, and Gary Hamel
  4. Organizational Learning: Does your organization give employees time to learn, grow and innovate?  We've downsized so much that most of us are wearing so many hats we're working 50 hours a week and barely have time to breath. Given the economic forecast for the next several years, that's only going to get worse.  Yet, if you need evidence that this pays dividends for short and long term organizational success, start with Google's 80/20 rule or 3M's days off. You have to develop a passion for learning, for self improvement and organizational development within the team.  And as leaders, you need to understand what your employee's dreams are.   This isn't about wasting time on Facebook (though even that can generate ideas), and the only way we know that they're learning is by asking them to share what they've learned.  If you've never read Employees First, Customers Second, you simply must. 
  5. Value vs. Efficiency:  There are too many levels between organizational decision makers and the customer, whether that's B2B, consumers, governments, or for non-profits, the donor. There's another round of layoffs, downsizing and outsourcing coming.  If you don't believe that you're not paying attention to what's happening globally.  As I've written before though, there's plenty of efficiencies that can be gained within most of our organizations without cutting jobs, we just don't engage our teams in ways that enable us to do so.  As Gary Hamel writes "Most companies are long on accountants and short on artists.  They are run by executives that know everything about cutting cost and nothing about value."  Value creation comes from people, not things. We can only LEAN our organizations so much before we've devalued the human beings that delight customers. Then they leave us for an organization that knows where to place priorities. We must be efficient, but not at the cost of destroying our ability to create because we're too burned out.
     All of which leads us right back to the first posting on strategic planning because the activity is circular and continual  A strategic plan should be a living, breathing document by which we can continually check our individual and organizational progress, and then adjust accordingly in a rapidly evolving business environment. 

     Is it time to shred the outdated and bureaucratic strategic plan sitting on a shelf somewhere?  Probably would be the best thing you could do for the organization and yourself. 
 

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