On Strategy & Planning

My experience has been that most of the Corporate Strategy plans are rich on what needs to be accomplished, How much will it cost, Who will do it and by when will it be done? (Rudyard Kipling’s faithful serving men).

What is often missing is a solid understanding of what the competitive landscape looks like? what are the unique areas that we can successfully engage in, where would competitive wins become cost-prohibitive and counter-productive and what are the top competitors we need to dislodge if any success is to be attained by the strategy.

So first step would be to perform a SWOT analysis and then agree on and document what are the KSFs (Key Success Factors) we need to ensure are front and center of our strategy and what are our short term and long term goals (remember to ensure we have built in measurements and controls that will tell us in advance if failure is about to occur)

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A Strategic plan must necessarily have a detailed, well considered Tactical plan to operationalize the strategy.

Strategy is necessarily before we engage in ‘battle’ (That is the tactical part of strategy implementation)

Ergo – any strategy needs to think through what the overarching goals and objectives are, who are the key players, what are the Key Success factors, What is the competitive landscape, how do we know when we have succeeded and most importantly, what is our plan to secure any advantage we have gained from the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan.

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I believe I may have erred in my earlier remarks on what’s the most essential component in a Strategic Plan. I believe the answer would be ensuring that the strategic plan is always “CUSTOMER FOCUSED.”
In other words how strongly does the Strategic Plan incorporate the voice of the customer into every aspect of the Organizations Product Development Process – from Conceptual Design through to Manufacturing. It needs to define the linkages between Customer Desires/Wants to Product Engineering requirements, taking into consideration Competitive Benchmarking inputs, and how does this overall design link into the overall Manufacturing System. Most importantly what is the communication plan that will ensure that the Information flows across the Organization, and that there is total understanding, acceptance and ownership of the Strategic Plan Deployment across the board.

This is known in TQM studies as Quality Function Deployment (or QFD), and there are probably a few hundred companies globally, who follow this stringent discipline for developing their strategic plans.

I would strongly suggest that he single, most essential component of any Strategic Plan would therefore be “CUSTOMER FOCUS.”

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