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Case Study:  Strategic Plan  Development & Implementation

This Case Study describes how Gagnon Associates helped in the development and implementation of this client’s first, comprehensive strategic plan.

The Company

America’s oldest direct-mail catalogue marketing company.

The Situation

After years of enviable growth, the company encounters a business down turn and withstands the first layoffs in its history.  Impact on company morale is significant, and though the imperative to resolve on a future course is clear, consensus on future direction remains to be achieved.  This will also be the first time the company has developed a comprehensive plan for the entire enterprise vs. managing its separate business channels independently.

The Approach

Orvis engages Gagnon Associates to lead the executive team and a select group of additional senior managers through a comprehensive team-based Strategic Planning Process. Extensive, confidential interviews of the Executive Team provide, in the words of the CEO, a “needed and welcomed opportunity to ‘go to confession,’” while a consolidated reporting of key interview themes provides them with “new and valuable insights” critical to moving forward.

Guided by Gagnon Associates, executives conduct a comprehensive Scan of the Orvis operating environment and an assessment of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to serve as a context for planning.  Next, over a two-to-three month period Gagnon Associates leads Orvis senior executives through the rigorous planning process itself.  Executives achieve consensus on company direction and, for the first time, develop concrete, corporate-wide goals, strategies, initiatives, timetables and accountability structures to achieve their common vision.

The Results

Within little more than a year, the COO reports that, due to the “heightened focus” on growth and profitability resulting from the plan, a key distribution channel experiences an 80% increase in sales.  A second channel is forecast to grow by 20%.  A comprehensive brand-building initiative is completed along with the complete revitalization of the human resource function and associated programs.

A reengineering initiative in the company’s merchandise operations/sourcing function transforms the new product development process and achieves 70% of the resulting cost-savings targeted for the next year by year end of the current year.

The CEO credits the Strategic Planning Process with providing “valuable insights that encouraged me to change my style and approach to leading the Company.”  He asserts, “The Planning Conferences themselves provided the leadership group some valuable benefits, especially in the area of clarifying and improving the effectiveness of how we make high-level decisions. . . . We do a better job of ensuring clear disposition of issues and avoiding ‘drift’ than we did before.”

The plan results in a strategic refocusing of company direction, a revitalized organization, and improved business results described by the client as nothing less than “a turnaround.”