Planning for strategic success

Companies are always trying to strike a balance between the planning and implementation of their business strategies. When the planning stage takes up too much time and too many resources, there can be reduced efficiency and effectiveness.

A strategy for strategy

Because of this risk, many businesses look for ways to reduce the time it takes to develop strategies in the first place – this is akin to having a strategy for a strategy. Martin Reeves, a leading strategist and head of The Strategy Institute, Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) strategic division, believes that having a strategy for a strategy is a necessary step for all firms.

In a recent TED talk, Mr. Reeves discussed some of the negative connotations associated with traditional forms of strategic planning.

“Strategy, a slightly old fashioned, slightly pompous word, probably conjures up images of the arcane processes of strategic planning that are generally pretty complex and you find in all large companies. Lots of analysis, lots of planning, all in the name of improving the competitive advantage.”

Strategic planning is often stuck in the past trying to predict the future.Strategic planning is often stuck in the past trying to predict the future.

The problem is that companies are spending substantial amounts of time looking ahead, and when the time comes to implement these strategies, the macro and microenvironment can have changed, sometimes dramatically.

What Mr. Reeves advocates for is a rejection of  a classical approach to strategy in favour of a more curated response to planning and implementation of strategy. One that draws from real world patterns of success, and less from classical notions of strategic planning.

Strategic programming

The professional opinions of Mr. Reeves are in line with what many business thinkers have said recently as well as in the past. Henry Mintzberg, who is the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, claimed something similar in his 1994 essay that appeared in Harvard Business Review titled ‘The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning’.

Mr. Mintzberg has said that strategic planning more commonly resembles a form of programming, by being a mechanism whereby the strategies at play do more to elaborate on known aspects of the business operations, and work towards discovering new unknowns.

On the same page

In this sense the strategies operating in most firms are born from the environment of which they have come – and in this way they are restricted by the limitations of the past; strategies that are reflexive are more adaptable and therefore more accurate.

Understanding the data involved with the strategic process can be a real challenge for many employees, which is why strategy software that uses graphical representations of information enables businesses to better execute their future planning and be more responsive.

For more information on how StrategyBlocks can help your company be the ahead of the curve, not behind it, get in touch with us today.