Vantage Point
Vantage Point is a quarterly newsletter designed to help organizations
improve performance through strategic planning and executive consulting.
Planning FAQs
What is the difference between strategy and planning?

Many people don't appreciate the difference between strategy and planning. Planning is the process of allocating limited resources across a selected set of priorities. Planning is an attempt to anticipate current and future needs and make efficient use of available resources. Strategy is about redefining the rules of the game. Rather than play the same game as every other competitor, strategy looks for new ways to gain and sustain an advantage. Many organizations are good at planning but their plans contain little strategy. These plans are developed with almost no consideration of how they impact the competition.
Who should be involved in the planning process?

Our bias is to be inclusive. People are more likely to support the outcomes if they are involved in the decision-making process. Planning is easy compared to implementation. By addressing the implementation challenges early in the process, the chances of success are improved. This participation can take several forms. Some employees are asked to provide their input through a confidential strategy questionnaire. Others are asked to participate in facilitated discussions about the organization's current strengths and weaknesses. The organization's leaders are asked to be members of the planning team and participate in the planning retreat. In most cases this is a group of 12 to 18 key managers who spend one or more intensive days developing the plan for the organization to be implemented over the next 3 to 5 years.
How should the customers' input be included?

Preparation for the planning retreat usually includes lots of input from employees in the form of surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews. In recent years, more organizations are getting input from customers or clients. We have recently begun conducting customer interviews as a way to gain an external perspective and triangulate with what we hear from managers and employees. This type of feedback allows us to challenge or validate some of management's assumptions.
Future Topics
  • The planning window (timeframe).
  • The difference between Vision and Mission.
  • Poll Question
    The poll question last quarter asked people to assess the state of the Alabama economy for 2006. The majority (78%) believe the economy will improve slightly in 2006. Here are the actual results:
    0%Improve significantly
    73%Improve slightly
    18%Stay the same
    9%Decline slightly
    0%Decline significantly
    Our poll question this quarter is: The greatest challenge currently facing our organization is:

  • Communication (primarily internal)
  • Hiring, training and retaining employees
  • Managing growth/sales
  • Leadership/management succession
  • Customer/client satisfaction
  • Click here to participate in our poll. You may return to the Poll Page to monitor the results as often as you like. However, you should respond to the poll question only once.
    Balanced Scorecard
    The Balanced Scorecard concept is based on the idea that every organization has to balance competing issues. Typically, these competing issues fall into three categories along important constituent groups. They are:
  • Owners or investors
  • Employees
  • Customers
  • A well designed balanced scorecard will define quantifiable objectives in each of these areas. The organization then tracks and regularly reports the organization's performance relative to those objectives. This becomes a powerful accountability tool for management to use to monitor the progress to specific objectives. The more sophisticated organizations link the scorecard results to individual and group incentives. Performance is widely communicated throughout the organization. Each employee understands how his or her efforts contribute to the organizations overall success.
    Published quarterly by Vantage Associates, on the web at www.vantageassociates.com
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