Strategic Thinking, TCF and Action Plans
How to develop action plans that bring the most value using Scope (employee
engagement survey) as an example.
Analyse the results of the Scope survey and select the most appropriate (will
improve business) survey items to focus on.
Choose 3-4 priority areas for action which will help to improve the levels of
engagement (of employees). Stay focused on these priority areas.
Ensure that each action is linked to the business strategy so that achieving the
actions on the plan will help to achieve the strategy overall. Ensure you are
able to articulate these links and the actions are SMART.
Summarise and document the action plans in jargon free clear English
Ensure each action is checked and signed off and are sponsored by senior
management. i.e. Someone who is going to drive the action forward and be
accountable for hitting the targets and deadlines set.
Create a tracking spreadsheet to monitor the progress of each action set. (I
have a working example, my original “Root Cause Analysis Customer
Experience Tracker Log” tool. If you wish to see a copy send me a message)
The action plan produced should be regularly visited and kept up-to-date with
progress monthly. This can also be used as a root cause analysis tool.
Identify and document any problems or risks (high or low) and how they
potentially be overcome with a solution.
Guideline Tracker Spreadsheet headings for columns
How is this action linked to overall business strategy?
Action taken (YN)
Does action taken comply with TCF Principles (Treating Customers
Identify which TCF Principle the action represents
Ownership (Who is monitoring and responsible for the progress and
success of action implemented)
Set targetdeadline date
Set a follow-up date
RAG Status (Red, Amber and Green in relation to progress)
Sheet 2 – Statistics
Sheet 3 – Summary or overviewstats of results monthly
Have any further areas which are in need of improvement been identified?
Have these new areas been added as an new action on the spreadsheet.
Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) Principles (6)
1. All firms must pay due regard to the interests of it’s customers and treat them
2. Treat customers as individuals. A customer can be anyone, policy holders,
retail, financial advisors and internal colleagues amongst many others.
3. Make promises you will keep. If you say you will do something for a
customer or client ensure that you have and if not make sure to inform the
customer of progress and reasons why there is a delay etc. Do not promise if
you can not deliver and breaking a promise can lead to a dissatisfied customer.
Always phone the customer on time even if you are not able to fulfil the
promise and explain very clearly why and what has happened. Offer an
alternative action if appropriate.
4. Communicate clearly with all customers. Use jargon free clear English. Issue
a well presented accurate document and write emails as you would write a
5. Provide accurate information on time. Get it right first time and deal with all
points raised. Always deliver within set time scales.
6. Treat complaints as a priority and an opportunity to learn: Business Retention.
Every complaint provides an opportunity to improve processes and therefore
avoiding reoccurrence of the issue. Customers who receive a goodexcellent
response to their complaint will become positive about the company and
through word of mouth the company will maintain a goodexcellent
reputation. However, customers who receive a poor response or feel they have
not been taken seriously will continue to complain and through word of mouth
the company’s reputation may suffer.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) have published (6) desired outcomes as a
means of clarifying the approach firms should take in setting their TCF guidelines.
Are dealing with firms where TCF is a key part of the corporate culture.
Are marketed and sold products that have been designed to meet their
Are provided with clear information and are kept appropriately informed
before, during and after point of sale.
Are provided with clear common sense advice which takes in to account
Receive the level of product performance and level of service they are led
Do not face unreasonable post sale barriers when they want to change
their product or switch provider, submit a claim or make a complaint.
Fairness is fundamentally about delivering what we promised to our customers. We
have to ensure that our promise is reasonable and accurately reflects what we intend
Strategy is the action taken to arrive at your objective. Be prepared to evaluate,
question, audit, investigate and analyse in order to resolve any problems.
Strategic planning (6) steps
1. Define your mission. Your mission is what you look to in setting your
2. The objectives established should be clear, concise, achievable and in some
3. The environmental scan is pivotal for most firms and it is the most involved.
Look at both internal and external environments businesses functions. On a
personal level evaluate the external factors that impose on you with respect to
4. This step is actual formulation of the strategy. Decide how to get from mark
(a) to mark (b). Allocate appropriate resources and link your decisions with
the people who will implement the plan.
5. This step is the actual implementation of the strategy and the monitoring of the
progress of the plan to ensure the plan is carried out.
SWOT Analysis is a vital measuring tool in evaluating all strengths, weaknesses,
opportunity and threats.
PEST (Political, Economical, social and technical) analysis is a scan of the external
The political environment affects all of us including national. State or local
level political leadership. We must be able to adjust, adapt and change
according to the changes in the political scene.
All business is conducted within an economic environment that either supports
or doesn’t support what we want to do. For example if you want to start a
consulting business, do enough customers exist to pay your fee? Does the
economic environment favour you or your competitors?
In looking at the social and cultural environment. What is trending right now?
What substantial and rooted long-term cultural factors should you consider?
Can you identify tomorrows trends based on today’s indicators?
Ask whether technology supports what you want to do and how in some areas
it may pose a threat. Social media can be a very positive platform for
generating business however it can also be a negative one as you can not
control what people say.
Michael Porter’s five forces model is a tool that can be used to evaluate the
forces imposed on virtually any competitive situation, from the computer
industry to personal romantic relationships.
The five forces of competition are: Buyer Power, supplier power, intensity of
rivalry, threats of substitutes and threat of new entrants. The4se forces compel
you to answer a series of questions about your industry and your place in that
How much power do your customers hold over you? How much power do
your suppliers have over you? How intense is the rivalrycompetitiveness with
others in your industry? Do they affect your profit margins? What is the
threat of new entrants in your industry?
Value chain analysis can tell you a great deal in relation to your internal
strengths and weaknesses. This method divides your business into it’s value
producing activities, with an aim of evaluating what makes your firm strong
and what makes it weak (linking in with the SWOT analysis).
This type of analysis can be applied to almost any complex series of activates
for example disassembling a football team and evaluating how each part of
that football team contributes to the whole.
The four actions framework
This can be seen as a method to get you thinking in fresh and new ways in
relation to what you do each day. The four frameworks consist of four
questions that are designed to challenge an industries established structure or
Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?
Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
What factors should be created that the industry has not offered (gap in the
These questions are phrased as four steps – eliminate, reduce, raise and
create; these four steps will enable you to create a new value curve.
The Intelligence cycle
This cycle consists of five steps:
Planning and setting of priority intelligence requirements
The first stage in the cycle is setting priority intelligence requirements. This
phase determines what information you will collect and what information
you will ignore. It gives direction to your efforts so you don’t collect
The second stage of the cycle is the systematic, three dimensional process of
collecting information. This stage involves getting into multiple sources
such as data bases; press releases and interviews with relevant people such as
competitors former employees.
The third stage, analysisinvestigation are part of numerous methods you can
use to gather intelligence:
The Intelligence Cycle
Setting priority Intelligence requirements
The fourth stage is disseminating and it is here where many intelligence efforts
fail. Some intelligence analysts collate facts of intelligence with minimal
analysis. Intelligence is a perishable product it is meant to be disseminated
The fifth stage, action requires courage. When you consider your findings you
must have the courage to say “This means that our firm should…” or “This
means as a team we need to…” – accountability, improvement and business
Steve Jobs as a strategic thinker
Steve jobs was an entrepreneur, media mogal, techno artist, CEO of Apple inc.
Like only a handful of persons in history Steve Job’s vision and how he
implemented that vision changed the world. His visible, determination and
strategic execution revolutionalised six industries: personal computers,
laptops, ipads, animated movies, music, itunes, iphone and digital publishing.
He changed the way we live and communicate and inspired us to think
His most famous campaign was “Think Different.” How might we do this
differently to what we already know? What can we do differently to our
competitors? Think both inside and outside the box.
The inspirational media personality and business woman has forged a vivid
personal brand and continuous self-improvement mission.
She has relentlessly voiced strategic intent in the mainstream of life’s
everyday’s battles. She has shaped and influenced American dialogue from
everything to books and politics.
The distance between us and a strategic mind as Oprah Winfrey’s is she is
bold enough to always find new realms for strategic endeavour.
A strategic thinker
Becoming a strategic thinker means shedding doubts and uncertainty. It means
mining the past for insight on the present and future. Whatwho we want to be five
years from now informs us of who we need to be today.
For further reading on ideas surrounding Strategy: “Strategic Thinking Skills,”
Professor Stanley K Ridgley, Drexel University 2012.
Rupinder K Gill