I have been involved directly in strategic planning and execution for a while now. During this time, I have since discovered I’ve been practicing strategic planning my whole life!
From setting goals to improve myself, expanding my knowledge through different industries which gave me a better understanding or “qualification” of what I deemed to be true or how I derived my next decision and then progress.
Effectively, strategic planning is supposed to be for all companies large and small, but alas it has become a ‘dirty’ word to many. We still see twenty-year-old Vision and Mission statements hanging on a plaque in many a foyer with old dusty carpets reflecting the current position of those companies in the world.
My industry experience includes years in the airline industry working in Quality Assurance plus extensive time in the IT software industry working globally with job cost, construction and design software. The signs of poor strategic planning become obvious.
On speaking to a CEO it becomes apparent why they do or do not set a vision or goals for his/her company. The points I bring up such as there is no “company-changing” big vision strategy active anywhere. The big power curve changes such as R&D, M&A if valid to expand the business through database growth, or even diversification projects to find that perfect differentiator that defines their company from their “direct” competitors. I don’t see it, yet time and time again CEOs reject considering strategic planning and deem it as “not important or not a high priority” to the current growth of ‘there’ company.
I sympathize with many CEOs’. They sometimes have a vision but are unsure how to take their staff along for the ride. They want to plan for change but inevitably the finance department may cut them off at the knees since the twelve monthly P/L statements for the board or owner is considered far more critical.
Strangely, CEOs’ don’t trust the system. They reach out to highly competent consultants to give them marketing or business options but eventually, it winds up as an expensive unfulfilled exercise! It’s the cliche’ consultancy report that winds up sitting in the CEO’s top drawer with no real understanding from within the company of how to activate it, track it, manage or report on it. Sadly we often hear about CEO’s that lock themselves away, make minimal decisions during their tenure, and hope they survive the first three years.
From the time they are in that position as CEO, many do not recognize they have around one hundred days (good or bad) to understand the business operations, and then they have about three to six months to make a difference or set the wheels in motion for massive change that will satisfy a Board or owner. The exception is, of course, they do not want change and prefer the status quo. Blind to the “disruptive” measures that are occurring daily in their industry currently, I would suggest those type of companies have a limited life and are not a good investment.
That’s right, the writing is on the wall.
The pressure is on for all CEO’s to think about how they manage change. Measure the pain points and work your way through them. At a time when the typical CEO’s lifespan in any one company is diminishing, its those CEOs that are highly motivated, make the big changes, looking for growth, are diversifying, and considering M&A activity as part of “their” portfolio, they are the leaders that will be around for the long term. They embrace strategic planning that can be measured, will embrace all the senior staff into action and so, as a team and not in isolation, they can confidently move forward and make their vision happen.
Written by Rob Reinking
VP Global Business Development