Continuous, decision-focused strategy

You won't have to look far to find someone that is totally frustrated with the "strategic planning" process within their company. Too often it seems that the discipline of schedules and templates and other corporate requirements for the planning process stifles the creativity, thoughtful dialogue and balanced analysis for which most would aspire.

That there are better ways to make the important decisions facing your organization is not new... even so, are you satisfied with the approach and results of how your organization makes strategic decisions?

We believe that these are important hallmarks of a high-quality strategic decision process:

  1. Roles are clearly defined
  2. The perspectives of all decision-makers and relevant organizaitons were considered
  3. A healthy range of compelling alternatives are included
  4. The analysis includes quantification of uncertainty of the future
  5. Strategy is defined in terms of action and resources, not only outcomes
  6. Those responsible for implementation have been represented, and understand the rationale of the chosen course of action

Another aspect of an organization's strategic decision capabilty is timing. When are these types of issues are dealt with? The traditional approach would suggest that they should conveniently all fit into one or two months of the year as part of an annual planning cycle.

It may be appropriate to identify strategic priorities on an annual basis, but the decisions to address those priorities require more time and attention, and each are best served with at least two events at the executive level:

(1) a frame-setting dialogue where the decision scope and range of appropriate alternatives are agreed upon, and

(2) an analysis dialogue which is focused on learning about value creation, and ultimately a recommended course of action based on that learning.

As the organization changes course as defined by its decisions, the planning and tracking functions need to adjust and update. This requires linkage to the budget and capital planning processes.