Issues with consequences of Strategic Planning ...

Symphony recognises why strategic planning, despite its best intentions, is an exercise in futility. It begins with a choleric CEO or teams of executives expressing a desired end result. This wishful position is expressed as a Vision that requires little definition or clarity for the very reason that individual interpretations can now create subjective imaginations to ‘build’ the visionary completeness in the form of a statement or Mission. From there a path is mapped back into the business operations by setting objectives, goals and strategic activities. In addition, tools such as SWOT, Competitor analysis, spreadsheets and Research, confirm a list of assumptions and provide the annual budget, cash flows and capital expenditure. All driven by a profit-motive in the interest of shareholders, stakeholders, local communities and sustainability reports. So far, so good.

There is however one small problem. Strategic planning uses an age-old methodology first applied by managers who had no idea of how things were built nor how they functioned; thus applying the term ‘reverse-engineering’ as a known technique. No matter how closely we are able to reverse-engineer a way through any process, unfortunately some fundamentals are lost as they are not visible nor tangible within each process. Cause and Effect would be a prime example of an intangible fundamental, the same for logic, reasoning, critical thinking, intellectual property, context, circumstances and conditions that all surround and influence any functional process, including methodology, system, protocol, procedure or technology applied. The unforeseen consequence of reverse-engineering from an outcome back into business processes is that the original building blocks are no longer there, nor the sequence by which they were structured; we loose all hope of authenticity, the final solution is at best a replica of a broad imagination lacking the creative result of what the organisation is capable of rendering through its own competent ability, capability and execution. In fact, with one head-nodding consent of a Vision, each organisation ignores the imbedded competence it inertly shaped over many years by thrusting a mission upon the company that has no relevance to inert assets and activities. Many a Vision and Mission have achieved precisely what the fiercest competitor has struggled to do – introduce a disruptive change to your assets and activities. Without knowing it, many companies that apply VMOGSA change their own business model by implanting a virus called ‘profit-motive’ to replace purpose-driven actions. By all means the profit-motive is synonymous to Capitalism and free enterprise, the virus triggers a consuming drive for an outcome that would have come with ease due to inputs of excellence. Symphony places the profit-motive where it belongs as a yardstick – to ensure that processes and resources are economic and effective.

Start with Purpose and define ‘Why’ and ‘What’ your business is about from an endocentric context. Leave ‘How’ for later. Endocentric means putting the organisation first. Academic theory and causal research provides leading insights into the 4-P’s Purpose, Principles, People, and Performance. Then introduce exocentric drivers based on market deficiencies that whet the organisation’s appetite from a purpose context. For obvious reasons, this is too early to consider outcomes such as profit; it is about aligning endocentric interests with exocentric market gaps by virtue of importance and satisfaction to both market and company. There is an important difference between gaining exocentric inputs and asking ‘customers’. The former is qualified by the latter through probes that are geared to clarify the perceived market deficiency. This insight is achieved by probing public spaces for inputs and qualifying the data into Needs, Preferences and Behaviours that indicate Performance, Satisfaction and Fulfilment criteria.

Cause and Effect now appears as an understanding paradigm; it explains why the deficiency occurs and provides the key to questions, solutions and a reproducible result. By defining the mechanism, the organisation can release all its creative skills and energy to seek and find causal criteria that will attract customers and user attention; it can entrust its processes to render predictable outcomes. Moreover, causal criteria can be packaged into a bouquet that offers market segments with relevant benefits and authenticity while remaining current. Together the organisation provides a bundle of perceived customer-value before any competitor is alerted of its disruptive entry. Moreover, the organisation has a novel and unique roadmap to products and solutions, the tactical approach is defined and understanding is universal within the organisation; yet we haven’t formulated any Strategy – it’s an outcome of following Themes, Threads, Models and Architectures. Symphony defines this step with several thoughts; Route-66 describes the entire roadmap to solutions; First-in-Class describes the public engagement steps through to P-S-F; TTMA provides integration at levels and layers; and Building Blocks provide an audit trail of Logic-Chain Evidences used by intelligentsia. All that remains is to apply architecture to detail model developments and tick essential boxes deriving an authentic, relevant and creative product, solution, tactic and strategy.

By now the organisation leadership will trust in its own ability to generate feasible strategy based on competence, rather than imagining what the annual silver-bullet should look like. Moreover, the organisation will become innovative by nature and not by force; competence will narrow in importance and relevance from broad to core; and themes will lay a greater role while management progresses to practices.