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This COO reflects on the qualitative and quantitative results of his company’s first, comprehensive strategic plan, developed with the assistance of Gagnon Associates strategic planning consulting support:

It’s been a little over a year since you led us through the Strategic Planning Process and a good time, therefore, to review with you and assess the value and impact of the Planning Process for us at Orvis.

Fittingly, my first comment is a strategic one.  The fact that your process enabled us to take a “macro” approach to planning for the Company allowed us to define and achieve consensus on some critical areas of focus that we didn’t have before.  We had an idea that we wanted this to be more of a top-down exercise vs. bottom-up, but we didn’t know how to really go about it.

Let me be specific as to results.  Organizationally speaking, achieving the focus on “People,” that is, the goal of making Orvis the kind of place that attracts, develops and retains the “best” is resulting in significant change here.  Though we know this kind of change requires continuing emphasis, we have made lots of progress in the past year in creating a more communicative and performance-oriented culture.  And I know we would still be floundering on this without the strong clarity and consensus on this point that the Strategic Planning Process allowed us to build among the leadership of the Company.

Equally valuable on the business side were the focused plans and strategies we defined and agreed upon to achieve “focused growth that provides a profit base to secure our future.”  In one of our channels of distribution, this heightened focus has resulted in an 80% increase in sales over last year, and we are forecasting a 60% increase for this channel next year.  As you know, we made an aggressive commitment to grow another channel by 20% per year.  At present that initiative is on track, in spite of a significant environmental business downturn, with very good success being realized in the newly expanded areas of that channel.  Operationally speaking, our commitment in the Plan to “streamline operational processes and efficiencies” is taking the form of a major project to restructure our supply chain and inventory management systems, something that we believe promises very significant future benefits.   These are some highlights.

Let me summarize by saying we could not have done it without you – I mean that very sincerely. With the number of managers that we felt were necessary to include, we would have been “mired in the weeds,” to use your phrase, forever on our own. You kept us on track and got us to organize OUR thinking, instead of imposing an outsider’s opinion. As a result, the Plan became OUR Plan – you just pulled it out of us.  I might add, you also won your wager with our skeptical CFO who was absolutely sure we wouldn’t finish within the original timeline you set, and we accomplished a tremendous amount in exactly the time you said it would take.

I hope this helps you assess the value of your Strategic Planning Process and methodology for future clients, and once again, on behalf of myself and The Orvis Company, our thanks.