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Planning FAQs
Implementation is Everything

Every organization has to balance the sophistication and complexity of its strategy with the challenges of implementation. I would much rather see a mediocre strategy well implemented than an exceptional strategy that languishes because the organization lacks the resources to implement it. There are several factors that seem to have a major impact on an organization's ability to implement.

Commitment - Commitment starts at the top but it must not end there. Middle management and front line supervisors must have the commitment needed to communicate the plan and enroll the employees in the strategy. If they are not committed, the rest of the organization won't be either.

Ability and Willingness to Change - Strategy implementation requires change. Some organizations embrace change while others resist to the bitter end. GM has known for years what it needed to do to become more competitive. It simply was unable or unwilling to do it. Apple on the other hand has reinvented itself from a computer company into an entertainment and communications company. If you have been following the same strategy for 50 years, there is a good chance it is time to change.

An Organizational Structure that Supports the Strategy - One of the most powerful implementation tools available to a company is its organizational structure. A strategy's priorities are usually reflected in its organizational structure. A strategy may require centralized control or decentralized flexibility. It may be designed to encourage product development or generate efficiency through standardization. The organizational structure must be designed to support the priorities required by the strategy. A significant change in strategy almost certainly must be accompanied by a change in structure.

Ability to Measure Progress - Every implementation effort has an element of trial and error learning. However, the learning opportunity is missed if you cannot measure your results. A learning organization must be able to define success and measure its progress so it can learn what works and what doesn't.

A Clear Understanding of Priorities - I believe you don't have a strategy until you are willing to identify who you won't serve. Management is often distracted from its strategy by opportunities that continually pop up. Opportunity driven is just another way of saying you have no focus. Resources are always limited and if you don't have clear priorities, you dilute resources chasing the unimportant.

Poll Question
The poll question last quarter asked: How likely is it that economic conditions will improve before the end of 2009? Here is the result:
13%Very Likely
32%Somewhat Likely
13%Don't Know
23%Somewhat Unlikely
19%Very Unlikely
Our poll question this quarter is: How important do you think professional online networking sites such as LinkedIn will be in the future?

  • Very Important
  • Somewhat Important
  • Don't Know
  • Somewhat Unimportant
  • Very Unimportant
  • We will report the results in the next issue. Click here to participate in our poll. You may return to the Poll Page to monitor the results as often as you like.
    Strategic Thinking
    We should not confuse strategic planning with strategic thinking. Strategic planning is usually focused on articulating a vision that already exists and breaking that vision down into discrete steps middle managers can carry out. These steps are actionable, measurable, and can be scheduled and monitored over time. The strategic plan is a tool that helps separate the thinking from the doing. The strategic plan allows the holders of the vision to communicate to the implementers what needs to be done.

    Strategic thinking is also a process but is much less structured. The heart of strategic thinking is synthesis. It involves bringing together the experience, intuition, and judgment of the leadership. This is combined with an understanding of the markets and the forces that drive them. Integrating these perspectives is the primary challenge of strategic thinking. The result is a vision of success for the organization.
    Future Topics
  • Business Leverage
  • Three Essential Skill Sets
  • For more information contact Jim Sisson - jsisson@vantageassociates.com
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