Tag Archive for: #transformation

Guide to Strategic Planning: Part 1

The art of strategic planning is not just about forecasting the future but creating a roadmap that navigates through uncertainties to achieve sustainable growth.  But unfortunately for most, strategic planning rarely delivers on the promise.  At best, it provides some general direction and guidance.  At worst, it’s an expensive and unproductive day that could have been spent better serving customers.

My journey in strategic planning began in 1992, and since then, I’ve had the privilege of crafting over one hundred strategic plans. This experience spans my tenure as an employee responsible for strategic planning, later evolving into roles at PwC, and culminating as the principal of Board Associates. Throughout these roles, I’ve created good plans and bad plans, concise plans, voluminous plans and even plans in posters and murals.  In the spirit of giving back to the business community, I offer this series of articles on strategic planning with the aim of educating and sharing my experiences and mistakes so that we can all learn together.

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do” Michael Porter

The Foundation of Strategic Excellence

As we approach the time of year when businesses start to think about their strategic direction, I want to share resources that have significantly influenced my approach to strategic planning.  In the first instance, I want to refer you to two cornerstone books that provide both foundational knowledge and actionable steps for crafting effective strategic plans.

Great by Choice by Jim Collins is an indispensable resource that delves into the essence of successful business strategy. This book is my favourite and a must-read for business owners, offering insights into creating environments where businesses not only survive but thrive. It’s an entertaining read, backed by rigorous research comparing businesses that have outperformed their peers by leaps and bounds. “Great by Choice” is an essential read for those seeking to understand the ingredients that underpin exceptional performance and best practice.

Playing to Win by A.G. Lafley provides a pragmatic approach to strategic planning. Having used and been trained in numerous methodologies over the years, I regard this book as a distillation of the strategic planning process to its most effective elements. It serves as a guide that demystifies the strategic planning process, making it accessible to all. This book is particularly beneficial for those looking to create strategic plans that are both impactful and straightforward.

Moving Forward with Strategic Planning

This post essentially directs you to my favourite “primers” for strategic planning. In future posts, I will delve deeper into the nuances of strategic planning, sharing my insights and best practices honed from decades of experience (and mistakes!). Expect to explore tips and strategies that will help you craft strategic plans that are both concise and potent, enabling you to avoid common pitfalls and inefficiencies that the majority of owners suffer from.

Join the Conversation

I am committed to education and fostering a dialogue around strategic planning so I invite you to join me in this conversation. Monthly, from February to April, I will host a lunch & learn session dedicated to discussing strategic planning in an informal setting. This is an opportunity to delve deeper into strategic planning, ask questions, and share insights with peers. If you’d like to participate, you can register for one of the upcoming lunch & learn sessions here:

Final Thoughts

Strategic planning is more than a task; it’s a journey of discovery and adaptation. As you embark on or continue this journey, “Great by Choice” and “Playing to Win” are invaluable companions that offer wisdom and guidance. I look forward to sharing more insights and engaging with the business community to enhance our collective understanding of this important ‘guide rail’ for business success.

Transformation: The Board’s Missing Agenda Item

Yet another corporate collapse brings into sharp relief an issue which seems to be missing from the agenda in Boardrooms around Australia: Stewardship of Transformation.

Disruptive consumer and competitive trends are not new and yet many fail to respond. I wonder then, how active this discussion is in the Boardroom?  In my view there is a clear imperative to “re-tool” our organisations for the business models of the future. It is fundamental to the sustainability of our organisations and to our duty as Directors.

 there is a clear imperative to “re-tool” our organisations

But what to do about it… I’d like to offer my own perspectives and “questions for the Board” as follows:

  1. Board Composition: is there sufficient cognitive diversity on the Board? Are there skills & experience in innovation and new business models (not just IT)?
  2. Market Sensing: Is the voice of the customer present at Board meetings (beyond NPS and satisfaction surveys). How are we detecting, reporting and responding to emerging trends?
  3. Strategy Development: How are we leading or responding to disruption? Are we looking at ways to disrupt ourselves? Are we planning for transformation or resting on the laurels of past success?
  4. Resource Allocation: Have we provided the means to foster innovation & experimentation? Have we invested sufficiently in our future selves?

In my view, the transformation imperative is clear and so to is the Board’s responsibility for the stewardship of that transformation. The challenge is that the skills to transform don’t reside in the traditional roles of marketing, HR or IT.  Instead, new disciplines such as human centred design, lean and design thinking have emerged to confront this challenge; but few organisations have them and they certainly aren’t represented in the Boardroom.