Long-term, 3 to 5 years, strategic planning is often a dead end. Anything further ahead than the one-year focused plan is a future vision rather than a strategy. A strategy defines what is necessary to realize the vision. Business conditions change too frequently to address them meaningfully in a multi-year strategic plan.
Strategic planning must be digested more dynamically to realize a company's goals. The modern business environment moves quickly, without the ability to significantly pivot, adopt, or substantially change short-term multi-year plans die. Over extended periods, 3-plus years, strategic plans are rarely updated or revisited. So, why do companies keep building three to five-year strategic plans?
I have developed the following practices to execute strategy effectively. From planning through execution, the dynamic strategy concept below constantly produces meaningful results. This dynamic planning process, with annual updates of vision and roadmaps coupled with active governance, significantly aids in breaking down often complex concepts and significantly increases goal realization.
1. Keep it dynamic
Accept the fact that strategies are fluid and need to be recognized as such. Strategies will have to adapt and change so they will be flexible. However, the objective remains the same. Any step taken while working on strategy must lead one step toward the goal. Change the strategy or kill the objective if progress cannot be made.
The first phase in crafting an effective strategy is determining the objective(s) and the potential path(s) necessary to pursue them. Keeping this dynamic, we must accept that most pathways will change mid-flight. If they do, the plan is updated.
Once established, a plan must be actively managed toward the objective(s). If the strategic plan needs to be modified to meet a changing environment, the plan must be updated, and changes communicated throughout the stakeholder structure.
Completing the tasks necessary to reach the objective may take many paths. The goal is to achieve the objective, or fail, as quickly as possible. Iteration may be required, but every success or failure results in an update to the plan and its status.
5. Repeat the cycle
A dynamic strategy is composed of a series of cycles of planning and execution wrapped in effective and efficient management. That is why it is placed in the middle: Plan – Manage – Execute.
This dynamic planning method must include measurable results to aid decision-making. Also necessary for success are open and frequent communications, task tracking, and active management meetings. Technology can help significantly keep things on track, but the accountability of the project stakeholders is always crucial.
I enjoy this process and find it to be highly effective. Also, being easy to implement due to its simplicity, the complexity of the plan doesn’t change the process. I hope you find dynamic strategy or parts of it useful. I’d love to know your thoughts,
Alignment - Business & Technology
It is a bit daunting that even today, with CIOs, CSOs, and millions in technology-based budgets, many firms still speak of a potential idea that the “business” and the “technology” will someday experience a convergence to become the business.
A consistent inability to have a meaningful dialogue regarding developing new business solutions and how the business, including the technology components, operates holistically moves technology adoption and business strategy in misaligned directions. One serves a directly identified pain point and the other aims at fulfilling a vision-based objective.
Whether discussing a new product or service offering to bring to market in an optimal business operation, it is fully understood today that technology will play a significant role in its ideation, creation, and delivery. However, even though we know the role technology plays, it is still evident that many organizations continue to have significant operational issues due to the continued misalignment of their operations strategy and technology. The convergence of the two, business strategy and technology, is only an option when business and technology alignment has become ingrained as part of the business culture, which means that decision-makers understand that the business doesn’t run without technology and that it is the technology (hardware and software) that creates the capabilities and efficiencies in today’s business operations.
When technology support departments are overrun with solution development requirements, process creation, or improvements that are not directly tied to an organization’s mission, vision, or strategic objectives, it is misaligned, potentially unnecessary, and a technical debt creation machine. It is also usually underfunded due to not being perceived as enabling, strategic, and investment but rather as a necessary expense to fill a need.
The degree of this misalignment is only later revealed by the amount of technical debt created. The cost of misaligned technology is never fully understood until forklift upgrade, total replacement, or financial drag is revealed through poor operational performance. A precursor to business and technology misalignment is evident in how over-committed a technology support department is and how dissatisfied end users are with the systems they must use.
With the idea of convergence and the perpetual need for business and technology alignment, I developed an alternate approach with our advisory clients. With a plan to move the misaligned discussion from business and technology to an intrapreneurial integrated culture focused on desired outcomes, we focus on two holistic approaches.
“How well do our investments enable us to maintain, take advantage of, and deliver on desired outcomes.”
Or an even better approach.
“What investments do we need to make and maintain to obtain our desired outcomes.”
Through reshaping the conversation, we will also reshape how technology is managed. This rescoping of the business-IT alignment concept creates the ability for measurement, proactive dialog, technology-aligned culture, and preferred outcomes.
Please take a minute and let us know what you think.
by Mitchell Morris
Practical business and technology management concepts derived from learned outcomes.