Taming Lions and Tigers in your Strategic Planning Circus
It’s early morning when I arrive to the offices of one of my major clients at the time to connect with my partner on a big presentation we were delivering to executives. We sit in the coffee shop near the lobby to review our slides and ensure all of our key messages are there. We were going big with a cool and flashy theme:
Achieving your Strategy by Optimizing of Your Strategic initiatives Portfolio!
As we start going through the slides a heated debate erupts around traceability of initiatives to strategic objectives and the multidimensional relationships of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of objectives and projects. Once we realized that we are running out of time we put the debate aside for a later time and compromised on how we will present the relationships hoping to god that the client will not drill into that level of detail.
We get ushered into the conference room and start setting up as executives and senior managers start filing in and sitting down. After pleasantries and the usual round of introductions we go through our presentation and we feel like a million bucks! The flow is good, the engagement is good, the mood is upbeat, and we are feeling pretty good about ourselves.
Then one senior manager turns to me and asks: why should I bother with strategic initiatives? Aren’t processes good enough to deal with innovating and delivering products to my customers? Flabbergasted, I turn to my partner who also turned a certain shade of blue and before we could answer the question pandemonium broke out in the room and our Million Bucks feeling tanked into negative territory as the circus rolled in! Executives and managers were arguing and debating definitions, concepts, strategic direction, financials, and everything in between.
It dawned on us that these guys don’t have a solid Strategy that is clearly defined, understood, communicated, and shared with the rest of the organization. Sounds familiar? I believe this is the case in more organizations than people would want to admit.
Needless to say a well communicated strategy is more effective than one which remains on slide decks and printed on banners that cover walls. An experienced Strategy Architect plays the facilitator with executives and managers to articulate the strategy using architecture.
A good starter set of Strategy Components to get a handle on would be Vision, Mission, values, Goals, Objectives, & top level KPIs against those objectives. Strategic Architecture examines these components and the relationship between them and establishes a common understanding between them.
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats (SWOT)
- Political, Economical, Social, Technical, Environmental, & Legal (PESTEL)
- Markets & Segments
- Customers & Segments
- Operational KPIs (Process)
- Initiative KPIs
- Agree to the most critical components, their definition, and the planning horizon
- Develop the relationships between these components
- Achieve consensus on the current & desired states of the organization by modeling
- Share these models during planning sessions & refine the common understanding
- Publish and share the models frequently