By John Barrington
Strategy as a perspective, rather than an event was the subject of last week’s blog. The typical way in which strategy is handled within most organisations is to schedule an annual retreat at least for the executive, or possibly for the board and the executive, have a great couple of days out of the office and then return to business as usual. In this model there may be preparation in terms of market analysis, an assembly of pre-reading packs, possibly the engagement of a consultant to undertake the analysis and facilitate the workshop, and then the completion of a report with a multitude of actions arising. In our experience, only a limited proportion of the actions are completed and no further truly strategic thinking is undertaken on a systematic basis until a similar time the following year.
The scheduling of an annual retreat and preparation around this is a step forward from what most organisations would undertake strategically even ten years ago, and the positive impact of this can be seen in enterprise performance over that time.
But strategy does not stop at 5 pm on day two of the workshop, and unless the organisation has a discipline of strategic thinking at board and executive level over time, it is very difficult to keep strategy on what are otherwise very busy agendas. What is required is an approach to strategic planning that sees it as an ongoing engagement and board agendas regularly populated with strategic dialogues (at the beginning of the meeting, not at the end) and executive teams regularly discussing organisation-wide strategic issues, rather than having respective general manager’s simply reporting on their own division’s performance.
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