A process provided by Roger Handley
The "Strategic Thinking Process" provided by Roger Handley at Strategy Workshops
My proprietary process of strategic thinking is for a management team that wants a top down approach that enables them to personally define the destiny for their business and the management controls needed to quickly implement strategy.
Strategic Thinking Phase: Determining Vision for Top Management (Corporate & Business Unit Strategy)
The first phase is for the top management team to agree a future strategic vision as to what sort of business they will become over time. This must have their commitment and be distinctive, clear and unambiguous. It should also be capable of being quickly and easily communicated.
This is done as a team by creating a strategic profile of the business that can be easily explained and subsequently understood by the rest of the organisation and other stakeholders. This is the job of the top management team at corporate or business unit level consisting of those who will be primarily responsible for driving the strategy.
They set the business goals and develop a clear and unambiguous statement of intent and direction for the business. By doing this together they can discuss all the significant changes and issues facing the business and agree the Critical Issues that must be managed. In this way the strategy becomes clearly understood and has the commitment of the team to forge ahead with its implementation. Achieving top management buy in is the first stage of communicating strategy.
The second stage of communicating strategy, also achieved during this work session, are hard copy outputs that consist of a Business Concept Statement, a format of the Strategic Business Profile, the Critical Issues and the Strategic Objectives which combine together to provide a road map to the future.
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Strategic Planning Phase: Communicating, Setting Objectives and Implementation.
Successfully Communicating Strategy is Critical
The clear communication of strategy is critical in the implementation phase to avoid confusion and misunderstanding amongst employees. For strategy to be successfully communicated to each employee it must be explicit in explaining the linkage between the individualís goals and the organisationís goals. It must motivate them to achieve these goals. The goals should be reflected in an individualís personal pay plan, quotas and incentives. The process of communicating strategy is to personalise the importance of it for each employee and ensure that the actions required are emotionally and financially compelling.
Setting Strategic Objectives
Once the Business Concept, Strategic Profile and Critical Issues have been identified, then part of the communication process is to cascade strategy down through the organisation by developing clear and challenging Strategic Objectives.
As was previously mentioned, objectives to implement strategy need to be set at all levels throughout the organisation and should ultimately be translated into individual objectives for every member of staff.
This segment breaks down the Strategic Profile into specific achievable strategic positions that can be easily interpreted by others. These objectives will materialise in the identification of clear product and market positions that the business will want to protect and retain in the future or to capture and exploit in the future.
This is an important segment in linking strategy to the business plan as it identifies the precise areas in which the operational objectives should be focused. If both the strategic and the operational objectives are aligned, then the task of developing the business plan and the resources needed to implement that plan are clearer. There is less chance that resources will be allocated to initiatives that are derived from opportunities, however tantalising, that may not fit the future direction of the business.
Planning the Implementation and aligning the Business Operational Strategies
The third step is to separate the strategic vision into operational activity. Each strategic function or business area takes the corporate profile together with the strategic objectives and with its own management team defines Strategic Initiatives specifically for its own area of business responsibility. In this way corporate strategy gets broken down into specifics by individual business areas. This can then be easily understood by their staff as the initiatives get cascaded down. As nothing will succeed without a good plan these initiatives are separated into detailed objectives and issues that must be quickly and successfully completed against strict deadlines. Translating the vision in this way ensures that the individual business functions pursue plans that are focused on achieving the corporate strategic vision.
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