Strategic Planning has gotten a bad rap for not addressing questions that turn on the critical choices that constitute strategy. Some critics have noted that strategic plans can simply be a roll-up of plans from across the organization, with little or no alignment and absent of any transformative attributes.
Let’s consider two aspects of strategic planning that have an impact on these issues. First, what’s the process being followed? Second what are the existential questions being asked that can drive a focus on strategy?
What’s the process?
In our consulting practice at Hewat Strategic Edge, we employ a process of facilitated meetings. The session champions are not the persons responsible for planning, but the most senior officer in the organization who is accountable for results. Putting people in a room for a finite period; not letting the process become a staff reporting exercise; and engaging people in a rigorous set of activities can turn strategic planning from a “nice to do”, or a “painful to do”, into a “must do”.
We find that knowing the process requires an investment of a few days rather than for an interminable period, has a qualitative difference in both the input and the output.
The process must be proven to work. Clients will balk at embarking on an exercise that has no track record. So, a strategic planning process but be sufficiently credentialed, if you are going to get the required buy-in.
What are the Existential Questions?
In most aspects of life, finding good answers is a lot easier than asking the right questions. If we can ask the right questions, we might identify some new ways of operating that can have tremendous implications for the success of the organization.
Below are 9 questions that span 9 categories of a business model. If each of these questions are followed up with a deep dive, it can open up a world of opportunities or required change. Here are the 9 questions.
- Customer Segments – Who are our most important customers in terms of profitability, share of wallet or other criteria?
- Value Proposition – What value do we deliver to each customer group in terms of the problems we solve?
- Customer Relationships – What type of relationship do our customers expect us to establish and maintain?
- Channels – How should we deliver our value propositions to our customers
- Revenue Streams – How much does each revenue stream contribute to our overall revenue?
- Key Resources – What key resources need to be applied to each of the areas noted above?
- Key Activities -What key activities need to be undertaken to create and deliver our value propositions?
- Key Partners – Which key activities and key resources are (or should be) supplied by key partners?
- Cost Structure – What are the most and least important costs in our business model?
If we truly challenge the status quo while answering each of these questions, we will focus on strategic questions. We may create a focus on being cost driven vs value driven. We may decide to change the way to deliver. We may decide to abandon some of our current customers. We may commit to changing our customers’ experience with our products and services. For more on business model questions, you can check out Strategyzer https://www.strategyzer.com/.
If our strategic planning is confronting these big questions then strategy must be addressed.