An Executive’s Aid for Strategic
Thinking, Development and
Deployment By George Palmatier
The author works with senior management of manufacturing companies to
achieve results that provide a competitive advantage.
trategic planning is an ongoing pro- cisions; and measuring the results of these decisions against
cess and carries an intense customer/ the expectations through organized, systematic feedback.
community, shareholder, and employee As such, planning, whether long range or short range,
focus. The strategic planning process is nothing new. It is the organized performance of an old
provides direction to all elements of the company and task. But we have learned that the task will rarely get
drives decisions and actions. Employees at all levels can done unless organized. Above all, it will rarely become
articulate and share the company’s vision and its overall achievement unless done purposefully."2
strategic direction. They can also articulate their roles
in the implementation and execution of the strategic A Strategic Planning Process is Comprised of
plan."1 Four Primary Elements:
1. Strategic Planning (Development / Creation of
A General Overview Strategy)
". . . Strategic planning is...the continuous process of mak- 2. Strategic Deployment (Communication, Feedback
ing present entrepreneurial (risk-taking) decisions systemati- and Execution)
cally and with the greatest knowledge of their futurity; orga- 3. Integration with other processes (Alignment and
nizing systematically the efforts needed to carry out these de- Synchronization)
4. Monitoring and Evaluation (“Continuous” Strategic 6. Sales / marketing method
Management) 7. Distribution method
8. Natural resources
Number 1—Strategic Planning 9. Size / growth
Strategic Planning provides an ongoing opportunity 10. Return / profit
for “Strategic Thinkings—which is a process that enables 11. Functional Strategies—Engineering, marketing,
the management team to...think through the qualitative sales, manufacturing, distribution, financial
aspects of its business and the environment it faces. The "The strategic planning process is initiated by Top
team can then decide on a common and shared vision Management and represents input from key people
and a strategy for the future of its company.”3 throughout the organization. Each and every strategy is
"The most fundamental strategic decision is: What documented and is linked to and supports the strategic
should the scope of our products and markets be?"4 In goals."1
its most basic form, three fundamental questions are to "Strategic goals are recognized as ends to which ef-
be answered in Strategic Planning: forts are to be directed. Strategic goals require significant
1. Where are we? (Performance analysis, assessment changes in the way in which the business operates and
N NT may take several years to implement."1
2. Where do we want to go? (Vision / mission and
goal setting) Some Considerations for Strategy
3. How are we going to get there? (Strategy develop- Development
ment and deployment) Driving Force—The one strategic area that is most
"Planning what is our business, what will it be and important to a company and is the engine that propels,
what it should need to be integrated. The skill we need or drives, the company forward to success.
is not long-range planning but strategic decision-mak- "Value Disciplines – Driving Force:
ing… The work starts with the questions, 'Which of our • Product
present businesses should we abandon? Which should • Operational Excellence
we play down? Which should we push and supply new • Customer Intimacy"5
resources to?'1 Strategic Planning does not deal with the Core Competencies? What gives the company lasting
future decisions. It deals with the futurity of present de- uniqueness?
cisions. What do we have to do today to be ready for an Internal SWOT (Strengths – Weaknesses –
uncertain tomorrow?"2 Opportunities – Threats)
Strategic questions to keep asking ourselves: Facilitator—A facilitator has a very specific role: to
1. What is our business? keep the discussion moving forward in a constructive
2. Who is our customer? manner. The facilitator also keeps the process honest,
3. What is value to our customer? balanced and objective. He or she will strive to ensure
4. What are his unsatisfied wants? everyone has a chance to speak his or her mind on the
5. What are our success requirements? various subjects.
6. What is our match with these success needs?
7. What are our strategic dependencies? Number 2—Strategic Development
8. What is our strategic position in the market? "The best plan is only a plan, that is, good intentions,
9. What must it be to gain lasting uniqueness? unless it degenerates into work."2 A study of 275 portfo-
10. What should our business be in the future? lio managers reported that the ability to execute strategy
Areas for strategic thinking and direction: was more important than the quality of the strategy
1. Product / service concept itself... In the early 1980s, a survey of management con-
2. User / customer class sultants reported that fewer than 10% of effectively de-
3. Market type / category veloped strategies were successfully implemented. More
4. Production capacity / capability recently, a 1999 Fortune cover story of prominent CEO
5. Technology / knowledge failures concluded that the emphasis placed on strategy
and vision created a mistaken belief that operating departments of the company."1 throughout the organization and that re-
the right strategy was all that was needed "The company has a business plan sults are reported from the organization to
to succeed. “In the majority of cases, we which covers market share and projec- management. A process exists to monitor
estimate 70%, the real problem isn’t bad tions, financial performance, new prod- progress against plans and to take correc-
strategy but …bad execution.” “…with uct development, customer service tive action when needed."1
the rapid changes in technology, compe- levels, resources and desired inventory "Systematic reviews are done through-
tition and regulations, the formulation levels. The business plan is used in the out the year to determine how annual
and implementation of strategy must be- Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) goals are being achieved. These reviews
come a continual participative process.”6 Process."1 include: methods deployed, study of data
"Execution will help you as a busi- As a practical matter, the goals and and comparison of plans against activities
ness leader, to choose a more robust strategies developed through strategic and plans against results."1
strategy. In fact, you can’t craft a worth- planning need to be integrated with the “Executive management, individually
while strategy if you don’t, at the same company’s other management processes. or as a group, dedicates time to reassess
time, make sure your organization has This is necessary to ensure minimization the logic of their strategies and related
goals and their achievements.”1
or can get what’s required to execute it, of conflicting directives/direction to indi-
including the right resources and the viduals tasked to execute the plans. In most companies, top manage-
right people. Leaders in an execution “It is recognized that the successful im- ment is expected to do three things:
culture design strategies that are more
plementation of strategies is a direct func- 1. Run the business well.
road maps than rigid paths enshrined in tion of people involvement and continu- 2. Grow the business.
fat planning books. That way they can ous communication.”1 3. Improve the capabilities of the en-
respond quickly when the unexpected terprise.
happens. Their strategies are designed to Number 4—Monitoring and Number 1 is supported by Class A plan-
be executed."7 ning and control processes and behaviors.
"A process exists whereby the strate- "It is recognized that strategic goals and We would expect properly managed prod-
gies and goals are deployed throughout strategies are deployed from management uct portfolios, visibility of demand, supply
the organization to gain focus, alignment
and engagement throughout the com-
Terms often used in Strategic Planning
Strategies are paths to a goal. A strat-
egy without a goal is a path to nowhere. Strategic Theme—a statement or reflection of what top management believes
From the top down, an organization must be done to succeed. Strategic themes reflect executives’ view of what must
needs to set a combination of goals with be done internally to achieve desired outcomes. Strategic themes do not directly
reflect financial outcomes. As such, strategic themes typically relate to internal
strategies to meet them. As one goes
down through the organization, these business processes.
goals become targets or sub-goals with Strategic Thinking—a process of analyzing, evaluating, and reflecting on the
sub-strategies or tactics to achieve them. nature of the business—understanding its current situation, conceiving possible
Every goal needs to be explicit, under- future states, creating a vision of the organization’s future, developing potential
standable, measurable and time bound. means and methods to achieve the vision, weighing the choices and deciding
This enables them to be integrated into upon a course of action.
the company’s other planning processes
Strategic Plan—an agreed-upon plan of action in support of the company’s vi-
to identify gaps in expectations and syn-
sion and mission incorporating top management’s strategic themes.
ergies within the company.
Strategy Map—a logical and comprehensive method for describing and com-
Number 3—Integration with municating strategic plans demonstrating the linkages from strategic goals to tasks
Other Processes /actions.
"All goals and strategies are integrated Strategic Measures—key performance indicators of the degree of success in
into the business plan, which is used to achieving the organization’s strategic goals.
develop and communicate annual finan-
cial plans that incorporate input from all