Belinda Li shares an older, but always relevant post that identities three important things strategic planning should accomplish in addition to the plan.
‘It’s time for strategic planning again.’
If you’re anything like the Board members at a nonprofit where I serve as an officer, you can probably relate to the collective sighs this announcement elicited. I found this reaction amusing…and a little troubling. Because I do value-added strategic planning for my clients, I know it isn’t just a necessary evil. Strategic planning is truly one of the most exciting and valuable opportunities you and your organization can undertake.
That’s because it’s never just about producing a plan. At CiTTA Partnership, we often tell clients, the steps you take along that journey are just as important. Let’s talk process.
Step One: Creating Internal Alignment and Cultural Shifts
At its core, your strategy is about how to best apply your limited resources to the most effective and impactful priorities. You’ve got difficult decisions to make to drive your organization – and in this process, your vision, mission, and values will be revisited, clarified, and refined. It’s the perfect opportunity to get all your key stakeholders on the same page.
We facilitate a highly inclusive and participatory process that ensures all voices are heard (not just the loudest ones!). It’s a rare opportunity for Board members, leadership, and staff to work together in the same room, using hands-on exercises, facilitated conversations, large-group and small-group discussions. To be sure, there are often differing perspectives between Board members and leadership or staff members. It is an intense process by design. But the tools we use lead to enhanced mutual respect and active listening. By creating a safe and open space first, you’ll find your team is able to put aside personal agendas to discover and celebrate a common vision.
Not only do you bring stakeholders together this way, but you also allow them to co-create a collaborative work culture that will serve successful strategy implementation for years to come. And that relates directly to…
Key points include:
- Creating Internal Alignment and Cultural Shifts
- Relationship-building with External Stakeholders – Including Critiques!
- Helping Your Organization Value Data-Informed Decisions
Read the full post, 3 Things Strategic Planning Should Accomplish (Besides the Plan), on LinkedIn.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Nick Mork with Value Unlimited LLC. Nick spent eight years with Bain and Company, finishing in the case team leader role. He specialized in consumer products and private equity clients and was always rated top of his class for analysis. He then opened his own practice, performing Bain-like projects for clients at a fraction of the cost. One of those clients, a Fortune 500 paper and packaging company, hired him to be a senior director of strategy in charge of the innovation portfolio. When they closed his office, he returned to private practice.
He currently lives in Las Vegas, NV, but will be moving to Los Angeles soon. He is at his best when making controversial presentations or dealing with ‘scary’ datasets.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Theresa Nanigian with TN Executive Coaching. Theresa is an executive coach with a particular expertise in leadership. She works with senior leaders, those in leadership transition and teams to successfully lead themselves and others by taking a future-back approach to sustainable individual/organisational change. Before establishing her coaching practice, Theresa worked at McKinsey as a management consultant, headed strategic planning at a division of GlaxoSmithKline and ran a worldwide technology division at American Express.
She lives in Dublin, Ireland and splits her professional life between coaching and a visual art practice focused on social psychology and interpersonal connection. It isn’t unusual for these seemingly disparate disciplines to influence each other in creative ways to better serve clients.
Theresa would welcome collaborating on projects involving clients in Europe, UK and US.
She is also experimenting with novel formats to complement typical session- or retainer-based coaching relationships, such as short, sharp, intensive deep-dives for leaders who are super busy but could really benefit from a novel approach to changing patterns in their mindset or behaviour that have become deeply embedded over years of repetition. Theresa would love to hear from anyone interested in participating in her beta tests.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Joy Fairbanks with Fairbanks Venture Advisors. Joy is an experienced founder, investment evaluator, and advisor to high growth, innovative companies across sectors. Prior to forming her own boutique advisory, she served clients at LEK Consulting and Mitchell Madison Group where she was an engagement manager.
Joy has extensive experience advising companies across geographies from M&A and strategic planning to process improvement and supply chain management. She advises on business modeling, customer discovery, MVPs/prototyping, product/market fit, go to market strategy, fundraising/investor presentations, partnerships, operations, and financial forecasting.
Joy is an active advisor across accelerators and university startup communities including: Blackstone Launchpad (powered by Techstars), Venture Out, Inventor to Founders (I2F) Cyber NYC, StartEd’s NYU New Media Lab, Stanford University’s Lean Launchpad, and Columbia University’s Entrepreneurship Design Studio.
Joy is open to collaborating on projects of various types, particularly those that make an impact on people, markets, and the planet.
While many struggle with switching the focus between work and home, Barry Horwitz has published a post that is the result of a family gathering inspiring how to avoid strategic planning mistakes.
Many years ago, my mother initiated what has since become an annual family tradition.
When my father was about to reach his 70th birthday (he’s closing in on 90 now!), she decided we should gather siblings and families, and all spend a weekend together to celebrate. But where? What kind of place? There are thousands of options.
After some discussion, we agreed on two guiding criteria: It needed to be reachable by a reasonable drive, and we needed to be able to play tennis there. Over the years, that simple “vision” has remained, keeping us focused and narrowing the options greatly. This same kind of approach works well in developing a successful business strategy. It’s not everything, by any means. But by starting with a clear vision of what matters most to your organization, you, too, can greatly simplify the process on the way to achieving your goals.
Unfortunately, many organizations (despite best intentions) struggle in the development of their strategic plans. There are any number of underlying causes for this, but here are three that I come across most frequently.
- Not Enough Detail
I’ve often seen organizations start with a very broad vision statement — something that, in my family’s example earlier, would be similar to “a weekend family getaway.” While this does provide some idea of what is valued, there is not enough specificity to narrow the options and know whether or not you are headed in the right direction. (Volkswagen once stumbled in this way when it set out to become “the largest car company in the world.”)
So, there needs to be clarity on the key elements that constitute success.
Key points include:
- Identifying and describing a few critical goals
- The problem with the strategic plan ‘list’
- The implementation of strategic work
Read the full article, Three Strategic Planning Mistakes To Avoid, on horwitzandco.com.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome H. Nevin Yuksel-Ekici. Nevin has 20+ years of strategy and transformation experience. This includes 11 years at a global enterprise software, hardware and hybrid cloud firm (Dell/ EMC), and 6+ years at Bain & Company. In her last role, she led cross-BU/cross-functional strategy projects, and co-led strategic planning for Dell Technologies. This involved working with the Dell Technologies executive leadership team and cross-functional leaders to identify and prioritize strategic initiatives, as well as clarifying and solving vague business problems through structured thinking and data analytics. In previous roles, she has led market intelligence, go-to-market strategy, and multiple enterprise-wide program offices to drive merger integrations and transformations. She has set up and transformed teams, and helped them achieve strong results in a short time.
Nevin is happy to collaborate on projects related to strategic planning, business strategy, sales strategy and merger integration.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Alun Thomas with Thema. Alun was with McKinsey’s London office from 1991-95. He joined the Firm as an experienced hire, having designed bits of Aero engines and run a battery factory on the edge of the Sahara desert. After consulting and profit responsible leadership in blue-chips, Alun focussed on helping early stage disruptive B2B businesses. Alun has returned to his roots in West Wales and is particularly interested in initiatives that contribute to the decarbonisation agenda and to the Welsh economy generally.
Forbes published an article from Stephen Wunker that explores how we can leverage lessons learned from COVID-19 to develop, improve, and use scenario planning.
Leading up to 2020, executives were already grappling with rising disruptive technologies, changing business models, and rivals emerging from unexpected places. Throw in a global pandemic, and the future seems about as predictable as a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with a hundred hands.
While some were poised to respond to the turbulence that coronavirus introduced to business environments, most were not. Traditional approaches to strategic planning have largely been unsuited to COVID times and have left companies vulnerable. So, what are businesses to do in an environment changing so quickly that strategic plans end up getting thrown out the window?
Enter scenario planning, a form of planning that leverages what you don’t know to bring multiple hypothetical futures into view. Scenario planning allows you to:
- Gain insight into the key drivers of a situation
- Embrace and control uncertainty
- Recognize the assumptions your organization has been making
- Expose your false sense of security
Sound uncomfortable? Good! Scenario planning isn’t new, but it is newly relevant in the age of coronavirus and beyond. Some industries and businesses have already adopted scenario planning for COVID—if you’re in any way connected to a college or university, you’ve likely received an email from the administration detailing the potential options for coming back to campus in the 2020-2021 academic year. Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, for example, distributed a list of six scenarios in early May.
Read the full article, Learning From Covid: How To Use Scenario Planning To Prepare For Future Uncertainty on Forbes.com.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Michael Z Guterbock. Michael worked for a decade in disaster preparedness and global health for the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Michael currently consults with Booz Allen Hamilton as a country risk manager. Prior to his consulting and government career, Michael worked for the private sector in the international development space. He is pursuing his Doctorate in International Affairs from Johns Hopkin University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He co-lives in Washington D.C. and Bologna, Italy with his wife and two young children. Michael is happy to collaborate on projects involving strategic planning, risk assessments, diplomatic engagements, and global health. Michael spans both the U.S. and Western Europe
Umbrex is pleased to welcome John Long with Satoe Solutions. Jack Long was a consultant at McKinsey focusing on leadership development, organizational transformation, and strategic planning. Following that he as an executive at IDEMIA where he lead integration and transformation, strategic planning, and value creation efforts. Prior to McKinsey, he was an Innovation Fellow at Oxford University leading teams building startups based on University IP. Jack holds a PhD in nanoengineering from Johns Hopkins and spent 8 years on active duty in the Marine Corps, and is currently a Reservist at the Office of Naval Research focusing on AI/ML. He lives in Washington, DC and is happy to collaborate on projects in North America.
Nora Ghaoui examines the limitations of artificial intelligence as it pertains to building a business strategy.
If company strategies risk sounding the same when written by people, what happens when they get written by AI? In this post I examine an AI-generated strategy statement for what it says about the abilities of AI and creating strategies. Three years ago, I asked if large companies all had the same strategy. Perhaps their strategies all sounded the same because managers picked up the same ideas from MBAs and consultants, or because they hired the same copywriters. Last month, a new source of non-differentiating strategy appeared – strategy written by AI.
The AI in question is GPT-3 from OpenAI, which has been getting a lot of attention lately. Here’s a quick introduction to GPT-3: it is a language prediction model that autocompletes text from the input that you give it, like you see when you use Google search. It’s able to complete many different kinds of text, giving it a wider range of application than other models.
Its power comes from its sheer size. It has been trained on a huge amount of text from the internet, and it has 175 billion parameters in which it stores the patterns in that text. Its response to an input is the text that is statistically most likely to come after it. So the more examples it has, the better it can match the input.
Key points covered include:
- Example of strategy written by AI
- How AI and predictive analytics work
- Critical thinking
Read the full article, Can AI Write a Strategy?, on the Veridia website.
From her company blog, Nora Ghaoui shares a two-part series that examines the strategy statements of large companies and explains why strategy writing often results in generic statements.
By the time a large company has finished its strategic planning cycle, it ends up with strategy statements that could apply to any company. The same phrases show up every time. Why is that? Do great minds think alike, are people running out of ideas, or are market trends forcing them in the same direction? Before we get into the causes, let’s look at the strategies.
A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, in their book Playing to Win, emphasise that strategy is a set of five choices: the company’s winning aspiration, where it will play, how it will win, its capabilities, and its management systems. Their expectation is that a successful company has a unique right to win.
Similarly, Michael Porter’s famous article “What is Strategy?” states: “Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”
Can we see these principles at work in company strategies today? What do the company strategy statements say? For now, let’s take these as correct representations of the company’s actual strategies.
The subject of strategy statements include:
- Where to play and how to win
- Capabilities and systems
Read the full article, Do large companies have the same strategy?, on the Veridia website.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Bernhard Heine with Professional Business Coaches. Bernhard Heine is a Business and Executive Coach at Professional Business Coaches, Inc., (PBC, Inc.) a company he founded to help business owners and leaders achieve their vision. Bernhard has more than 30 years of experience working collaboratively with business partners in all phases of business management, restructuring and transformation, particularly in: strategic planning, marketing and sales, organizational design, engineering consulting, project management, coaching and facilitation.
Prior to forming PBC, Inc., he was Executive Director for Strategy and Business Development for eight years at Textron Inc. His responsibilities included: advising senior leaders, facilitating meetings and training sessions, leading strategic planning initiatives, conducting corporate and business strategy assessments, and screening attractive industry and business growth opportunities.
Prior to joining Textron, he was principal at Alliance Consulting Group, an e-business strategy consulting firm. Prior to that, he worked six years at Coca-Cola in Germany; advising the CEO and his staff on restructuring the German bottling system and implementing new marketing and sales strategies. Before Coca-Cola, he was a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, an international management consulting firm (also in Germany).
Bernhard started his career at a marine transportation consulting firm where he worked globally as a marine engineer on commercial shipbuilding projects, especially in Japan and South Korea.
Bernhard holds a BS in marine engineering from the US Merchant Marine Academy in NY. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a Certified Professional Business Coach with the Professional Business Coaches Alliance, Certified Legal Practice Coach, and Authorized Client Builder Sales Trainer. Bernhard has also achieved the “Master Coach” designation from the PBCA in Sales, Coaching, Leadership, Marketing, and Exit Planning.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Caroline Wooldridge. Caroline Wooldridge spent a few years at BCG after an MBA at Wharton. Since BCG, she has led operations at ~100 person start-up, and most recently spent a year in strategy & transformation work at WeWork. Prior to Wharton, she worked 7 years in marketing and media.
She has just left WeWork to begin independent consulting. Caroline has particular experience in transformation, operating models and org structure, strategic planning, board / funding material, marketing, product development, and customer satisfaction analysis. She lives in Brooklyn and is exploring opportunities in both New York and Los Angeles, as well as remote engagements.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Yevgeniy Rikhterman. Yevgeniy Rikhterman spent three years as the Director of Strategy at Herff Jones, a PE owned CPG company. Yevgeniy has experience in creating strategic plans, as well as an evergreen strategic planning processes. Yevgeniy led the strategic planned that helped to maximize the value of Herff Jones during a critical PE transaction.
He also led the corporate development, and M&A aspect, and as such has specific experiences that is applicable to mid-size companies looking to grow through partnerships and acquisitions. In addition, he led multiple product transformations, and is experienced in not only understanding root causes, but also guiding the implementation of the solution. Prior to Herff Jones Yevgeniy spent two years as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), working on a variety of projects in finance, retail, pharmaceuticals, telecom, industrial goods, and aviation.
Yevgeniy lives in New York City, and when not working enjoys travelling around the world, and outdoor activities. He is happy to work projects globally.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ashu Dalvi with South Pointe Strategy. Ashu has spent over 15 years as a consultant with various firms, including A.T. Kearney and Booz Allen Hamilton. He loves working on ambiguous problems and has developed and implemented transformational business strategies for tech, transportation, and non-profit clients. Ashu recently founded South Pointe Strategy, a consultancy that helps clients in all sectors build operating models that support their business ambition. Just prior, he was building out the strategy and operations practice for Slalom Consulting in San Francisco.
Ashu lives in San Francisco with his wife, Margia, and their dog, Maizie. In his free time, you can find him playing flag football and intensely watching University of Michigan basketball and football. Ashu’s favorite part of being a consultant is solutioning with peers and clients; he is happy to partner on U.S.-based projects involving strategic planning, operational improvement, and leadership development.
Luiz Zorzella explains why non-strategic projects can be a distraction that get in the way of real strategic work and what you can do about it.
When companies define their strategic priorities, it is common to include in this list items that are not building blocks of the company’s strategic goals. At least directly.
Some of these items are extraneous, pet projects and/or impositions from third-party actors or the result of internal politics and accommodations and at best do not add any value and at worst hinder the strategic agenda.
However, there is another type of priority which, if properly managed, can help you break into a vault full of riches that are unreachable to you right now.
Points covered in this article include:
- Three categories of items
- How to prioritize and implement items
Read the full article, Break into the Strategic Treasure Vault, on the Amquant website.
David A. Fields provides an eight-week plan for an effective strategic planning process that will engage and enthuse your team of consultants for the year ahead.
If you develop an annual plan for your consulting firm, there’s a decent chance you sit down with your senior team and/or advisors for a day or two to hammer out your objectives, strategies and tactics. (If you don’t engage in any strategic planning for your consulting firm then, as the old saying goes, ‘When you don’t know where you’re going, any road could end up in Newark.’) The annual rigmarole requires substantial effort, time, M&Ms and endurance. It’s a chore.
The six steps covered in this article are:
-Report the facts
-Lessons learned and implications
-Revisit vision, values, and mission
-Goals, gaps and objectives
-Strategic Initiatives and Success Metrics
Read the full article, 8 Weeks to Get Juiced – A Better Strategic Planning Process for Consulting Firms, on David’s website.