Strategic Planning: The Executive Interview Process

Whenever we’re asked by a client to help with strategic planning, we always begin with the same initial step:  comprehensive, one-on-one, confidential interviews of the company’s leadership team – namely, the CEO and his or her direct reports.

There’s a simple reason for this:  As a first step in establishing the context for planning we want to know where they stand on the company, its environment, its challenges, its future as well as themselves as a leadership team.  Just as importantly, since achieving leadership consensus is arguably the entire purpose of strategic planning, establishing a “baseline,” via interviews, as to how aligned or unaligned executives are to begin with allows us to assess just how difficult it’s going to be to bring them together on a final plan.  Consequently, interviews are an indispensable first step that we simply would never do without.

Here, in brief, are a few of the major areas we probe in these all-important interview sessions: Continue reading “Strategic Planning: The Executive Interview Process”

Strategic Planning: What’s In It for Me?

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the consulting mentor of ours who was fond of saying that strategic planning was, at one and the same time, the most important task you can undertake as a business leader and also “a waste of time.”  Of course, what he meant was, like New Year’s resolutions, it’s not the resolving that really matters, it’s whether or not you follow through. Continue reading “Strategic Planning: What’s In It for Me?”

Strategic Planning: Building to Endure by Codifying Your Company’s “Core Values”

If you’re launching a strategic planning effort in your company, the first step to be completed – assuming you haven’t done so already – is a careful statement of your company’s “core values.”  Since, to some, the term “values” suggests abstraction, we find this task strikes some business people as a bit “squishy” or “touchy-feely.”  However, no less a hard-nosed business type than Thomas Watson, Jr., the founder of IBM, had this to say on the subject:

 “I firmly believe that any organization, in order to survive and achieve success, must have a sound set of beliefs on which it premises all its policies and actions . . . .  I believe the most important single factor in corporate success is faithful adherence to those beliefs.” Continue reading “Strategic Planning: Building to Endure by Codifying Your Company’s “Core Values””

Business Process Improvement: Wring More Productivity Out of Your Key Business Processes

“A bad process will beat a good person every time.” 

So famously said quality guru W. Edwards Deming, and we agree.  We’ve seen it time and time again.

Business processes – such as your budgeting process, your new-product development process, your engineering process, etc., etc. – by definition, cut across multiple business functions, groups or divisions.  Continue reading “Business Process Improvement: Wring More Productivity Out of Your Key Business Processes”

Your Strategic Plan — Tracking Progress to Ensure Success

Probably the biggest “rap” against strategic planning is that, all too often, it’s an “academic,” “blue-sky” exercise that doesn’t translate into concrete results in the “real world.”  While we can’t deny there are probably far too many plans gathering dust on too many shelves, we’d contend this isn’t usually the fault of Continue reading “Your Strategic Plan — Tracking Progress to Ensure Success”

Strategic Planning:  Beyond the Executive Suite

When you launch a strategic planning effort, one of the first questions you need to answer, of course, is:  “Who should be involved?”  The most typical first response to this question is: “the executive team.”  This usually means the CEO and his or her direct reports.  And, of course, this is a valid answer – as far as it goes.  Problem is, it often doesn’t go far enough and represents a missed opportunity to build ownership beyond the executive suite right from the beginning. Continue reading “Strategic Planning:  Beyond the Executive Suite”