Tag Archives: strategy

Good Summary Presentation on Strategic Planning and Management

Please see here a presentation made through the Association for Strategic Planning  yesterday.

This is the best summary presentation on strategic planning management tools and techniques that I have seen to date. It covers all of the key tools and theories from the last 30 years. Please note that this is strategic planning and management, not strategic leadership. Despite this difference, I think that this is a really useful summary of key tools for those practicing strategic leadership.

The good news is that nearly all of the key things mentioned in this presentation are available in our organization. Note my choice of words there 🙂

This presentation is reproduced here with kind permission from the presenter, Randy Rollinson, who you can contact at:

Randall Rollinson, President, LBL Strategies, Ltd.

www.lblstrategies.com, www.strategyprocenter.com


Macro Strategy and Mega Trends

Read this and reply. I want your ideas on how the world is changing.

At the highest level, a global organization’s (like ours) macro level strategy should address the biggest trends that are occurring across the globe.

I’ve reviewed a number of lists of global mega-trends. You can find a summary of them here. Of course, each list has its focus, based upon the audience that it serves, from political leaders to financial investors to industry specialists. If you have the time, I recommend you read the US National Intelligence Council’s report on Global Trends 2030.

Despite the various audiences, there are a number of trends that most of the lists highlight. The themes that occur the most frequently across these 14 inputs are as follows, in order of frequency, most frequent first:

  1. Information and communications technology.
  2. Aging, and impact of an aging population
  3. Increased energy needs and supply
  4. Climate change
  5. Water & food scarcity
  6. Urbanization / mega-cities
  7. Power shift from West to East
  8. Globalization
  9. Individualization
  10. Growth of the middle class

Do you agree with this list? What do you think are the biggest changes occurring around the world? Leave a reply please.

Actual Results From Focusing On Strategy

This year we saw actual positive results from focusing on our strategy.

For the first time in 3 years we have seen an increase in the number of countries with new spiritual movements launched. This is the outcome from our Mission, and directly leads us towards our Vision. I do not believe that this has happened by accident, but that it is the result of 3 years of focus on one thing by senior leadership across about 170 countries.

Key lessons I learned from this success:

  • Focus on one thing.
  • For years and years.
  • Don’t change the focus, and don’t change the rules. People can’t keep up with our ability to create change.
  • Keep it simple – both the strategy, and the process for turning the strategy into something that people can execute day to day.
  • Be consistent in messaging world-wide.
  • Review progress frequently (we aimed at bi-weekly, but we probably ended up with monthly).
  • Don’t allow your ability to think of new things to do distract you from the most important one thing.
  • Don’t let up. I had an old boss who used to say “Don’t let them grind you down!”, although he used an expletive before the object of the sentiment to reinforce the point.
  • Public accountability keeps even independent minded people focused on group goals.

I have been writing this blog now for nearly 2 years as I have been trying to figure out how to help 16,000 people spread across nearly 170 countries lead strategically. I hope that the fact that we have seen some success encourages you to stick to the strategy and use the strategic planning process to keep focused on the long term goal.

Are You Really Implementing Your Strategy?

So, you have a strategy, but are you following it? Writing down a strategy is the easy part. Getting 1,000+ people to change what they do to follow it is the hard part. In this previous article I commented on the need for rapid resource (people and money) allocation to reflect a strategic change.

I like what is said in this video from McKinsey quoting one of their consultants:

“I don’t want to read your strategy plan. I want to see what’s shifted in your budget. Then I’ll tell you what your strategy is.”

Could someone reverse engineer your strategy based upon your team’s expenditure? They should be able to do so.

What Is Your Main Goal?

This week we used the 4 Disciplines of Execution tool to develop a laser like focus over the coming year on the single biggest goal that teams have to achieve.

However, coming up with the right goals for teams was not easy. When I worked in the commercial world the target was clear and constantly reinforced: maximize return on the investment of the shareholder. Everything that we did had to be traceable back to that point.

If you have leadership responsibility for a team or organization here are a few questions that you can use to see if you are setting yourself the best Wildly Important Goals:

  • What is the one thing that, at the end of the year we have to have seen happen, even if all the other things don’t happen as we might hope?
  • What is the raison d’etre for your team? Does your Wildly Important Goal relate directly to the reason for existence of the team or the part of the organization for which the team is directly responsible?
  • What is the Vision for the organization as it directly relates to me or my team?

This was not an easy exercise this week, but I hope that these questions help you identify the most important goals for your team.

Focus, Focus, Focus

There are always more good things that we could do than we have the capacity to do.

Strategy is the difference between doing things and doing the best things to do – and then doing them optimally.

I had the opportunity to try and help some of my colleagues over the last few weeks as they reviewed and further developed their strategies. The biggest things that hit me during the discussions were:

  1. Everyone wanted to do a lot of things, all of which are good and have great justifications.
  2. It is easy to draw up lists of things to do, and never to be worried that they get done.

Do you have a long list of things that you think that you will do?

What is your main objective? Which of the things on your list will most directly help you make progress towards your main objective?

Are you tracking your progress with those most important things, and are you doing them INSTEAD of some of the other things that you have on your list?

Remember, strategy can be defined as:

“the intelligent allocation of limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving customers.”

Strategy is about recognition that there are limited resources, and maximizing what you have to achieve your objective. This means that non critical things will be dropped. This is OK. Don’t worry about dropping some things. Really. No, I mean really, don’t worry about that.

Keeping The Strategy Simple

I received a strategy plan by e-mail today from a colleague who I met last year. The plan is for the next 12 months. I like what I see. The reasons that I like what I see in this plan are:

  • It all starts with the Vision of what we are trying to achieve as an organization.
  • It has one objective for the team of 5 people – to make a clearly defined amount of progress directly towards the Vision in the time-frame of the plan.
  • The objective looks achievable, but focused on stretching the team to the next level of implementation.
  • They appear to have abandoned doing what they were doing for the last 10 years that did not lead towards the Vision. Yippee!!
  • The plan seems realistic as to what resources it will have available. There are not wild assumptions about availability of people or money to execute the plan.
  • The plan has specific actions by specific people during the year to do specific things that seem simple but important. Again, no wild “faith” assumptions.
  • The whole thing was three pages – and that includes lots of white space. I think that each of the 5 team members who are due to execute the plan could read this and remember what they are supposed to do by when.

All in all, I think that this plan is not a barrier to its completion in its own right. This is good in my opinion.

I will meet the authors of the plan next month. I think that the key question that I will ask them is: What could stop this plan from being implemented as the next 12 months unfold?

Reviewing Strategy Progress

Without regular reviews of progress towards strategic goals, most people will get swamped by the urgent. You’d think that goals that are defined as strategically important would automatically be reviewed. Experience tells me that this is not so. In fact, the opposite can occur. When people are swamped by the urgent, taking time to remind oneself that what is truly important is not happening can be embarrassing, and avoided.

Sean Covey in 4 Disciplines of Execution recommends weekly reviews of lead measurements. I think that lag measurements (or the desired outcomes or goals) should also be reviewed, just in case the lead measurements are not leading to the correct lag effects.

Covey recommends frequent, but short, reviews of progress. I agree. This keeps the goals in the front of the minds of those people who would otherwise be swamped by the urgent. I can remember many projects when we were developing telecoms products that did not have regular reviews. I don’t remember them being consistently delivered on time. This is Project Management 101, and I’ve paid for not following it before.

This principle applies to any project. During 2 hour meetings we review progress against an agenda to see if we are still on track to do what we wanted to do during the time allocated. Similarly, we should regularly review macro progress to macro level goals over the life cycle of the strategy to achieve that goal.

I have concluded that daily or weekly 15 or 30 minute stand-up meetings in the short-term can save a lot of crisis management and war-room meetings in the long-term.

What is a Strategic Plan?

I had a heated discussion with a colleague of mine this week. You might have called it an argument, except we both agreed with each other. We were discussing “strategic plans”. My colleague pointed out that the term strategic plans is heavily loaded, and carries a history with it of things that are:

  1. at least 20 pages long
  2. are written by subordinates for supervisors
  3. are re-written the following year upon demand
  4. have no impact on the funding received by the writer
  5. have no impact upon the work that will be carried out by the writer.

However, personally, I don’t recall ever having written a plan like that. I may have written some, but the fact that I don’t recall ever doing so is indicative that any like that written by me were never owned by me.

I have written many plans that I recall. These plans were all written by me to enable me to clarify my thoughts of what I needed to do, and then to help me through the process of doing them.

I can’t remember ever having to do so, but if I had been asked to define what the term strategic plan was I would have probably come up with something like:

“A description of what we need to do to best meet the customer’s requirements using the capabilities of our organization in a way that provides competitive advantage.”

I would have based this definition upon the premise that there are three sources of ideas for products and processes (the three “C”s):

  1. CUSTOMER – The customer’s ideas of what they want.
  2. COMPETITION – Improving upon what the competition is doing.
  3. CAPABILITY – The engineers dreaming up what they think that we can do.

These three domains of ideas intersect with a product or process concept that meets some of the customer’s ideas, while dodging around the competition in a way that uniquely builds upon the capabilities of our internal resources.

I would have said that the strategic plan was the actions that need to be taken to implement something in this sweet spot of intersection of the three domains of ideas.

In Christian ministry we do not have the same concept of competition as we did in the telecom industry. Our “competition” is spiritual. However, there are other ministries doing God’s work, and rather than provide competitive advantage, for the sake of macro level stewardship, we avoid directly doing what another ministry is doing. The principle of the definition of the strategic plan has a strong parallel with that which I would have given in my old role:

“A description of what we need to do to most effectively move towards the Vision of the organization using the unique capabilities of our organization.”

This description might be hundreds of pages, or it might be one page. The length depends upon the complexity of the problem being solved and the personal need of the implementors to have written guidelines to which they can refer during the execution of the plan.