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13 October 2009 • 7:00 am

Turning Sense into Dollars – Part IV (Conclusion)

In the previous posts, I introduced a case which offers a practical, real world example of how risk analysis can enrich the strategic planning process.  We learned of PrimeCorp (a disguised name), a large company with a national presence in the U.S., and met Jim and Curtis, PrimeCorp’s head of Strategic Planning and CEO, respectively. If you haven’t read Parts I through III of this series of posts, please do so now. It contains background needed to understand this post.

Outcomes at PrimeCorp

As a result of the risk-adjusted forecasts, both the baseline and with leadership expectation of the impact of the proposed strategic management system, PrimeCorp had satisfactorily completed its cost-benefit analysis and projected payback. Curtis (PrimeCorp’s CEO) soon thereafter approved the project as proposed, and our work was underway. Working closely with Jim (PrimeCorp’s head of strategic planning), we undertook to transform the way in which PrimeCorp managed its strategy. The transformation took about two years.

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9 October 2009 • 3:26 pm

Turning Sense into Dollars – Part III

In two previous posts, I introduced a case which offers a practical, real world example of how risk analysis can enrich the strategic planning process. We learned of PrimeCorp (a disguised name), a large company with a national presence in the U.S., and met Jim and Curtis, PrimeCorp’s head of Strategic Planning and CEO, respectively. If you haven’t read Parts I and II of this series of posts, please do so now. It contains background needed to understand this and the following post.

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6 October 2009 • 7:00 am

Turning Sense into Dollars – Part II

In the previous post, I introduced a case which offers a practical, real world example of how risk analysis can enrich the strategic planning process. We learned of PrimeCorp (a disguised name), a large company with a national presence in the U.S., and met Jim and Curtis, PrimeCorp’s head of Strategic Planning and CEO, respectively. If you haven’t read Part I of this series of posts, please do so now. It contains background needed to understand this and the following posts.

The Different Approach

We already knew that a key element of PrimeCorp’s existing strategic planning process was its financial forecasts. The annual planning book (hundreds of pages, highly confidential, and not shared beyond the executive team), contained page after page of spreadsheets describing past and expected future performance of each of PrimeCorp’s several divisions, as well as an enterprise-wide roll-up of the numbers. The executive team, which consisted of the heads of each division (as well as such corporate functions as HR Finance, and IT) annually created their individual division forecasts as a function of past performance, and their own expectations of the next five years of future results. This process was time-consuming and filled with understandable tension – between division leaders’ desire to soft-peddle the numbers, and CEO and board pressure to raise revenue and manage costs to achieve year-over-year improvement in profitability.

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5 October 2009 • 7:00 am

Turning Sense into Dollars – Part I

Continuing our introduction of the element of risk into strategic planning, your humble correspondent now endeavors to share a practical, real world example of how risk analysis can enrich the strategic planning process. A caution – some basic mathematics are involved, but I’ll try as best as possible to avoid the use of jargon. And at the end of the case, I’ll offer a tool and an hour of telephone-based guidance on how to apply this tool in your organization for FREE to the first five readers who respond to the offer – with no strings attached.

A few years ago, I was faced with a unprecedented challenge by a client, to attach a dollar value to the benefit of a proposed consulting engagement. The details of the organization are not important to the concepts in the case, but suffice to say I was hungry for the opportunity to consult to this large organization.

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28 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part V

In Parts I through IV of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Parts I, II, III, and IV  now if you haven’t done so already.

The afterglow of the strategy map workshop didn’t last very long. Working closely with Linda, the next step was to recruit people in the WorldCo organization to identify prospective measures for the strategy map objectives. This process was designed to require minimal participation from leadership team members – the work was to be delegated deeper within the WorldcCo organization.

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27 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part IV

In Parts I through III of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Parts I, II, and III  now if you haven’t done so already.

It would have been so easy for the workshop to have been awful. Forty-five executives and managers instead of the promised nine, many of whom had no advance understanding of what was going on. A not very cohesive leadership team, with at least some evidence of rivalry and political intrigue among them. Some open skepticism about the process (although this was typical), and an organization whose culture seemed to be all about impatience. And in me, a somewhat rattled facilitator.

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26 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part III

In Parts I and II of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Parts I and II now if you haven’t done so already.

Each of the many dozens of strategy map workshops I have facilitated in my career has been different, but they have all been exhilarating. For up to eight hours, I (and typically a colleague) guide a group of executives to construct and agree to a concise yet richly detailed expression of the strategy for the organization (read more about the art and science of strategy map design). With only a few exceptions, executives emerged from their efforts highly satisfied with the result of their efforts, and energized about strategy execution.

Over the years, my colleagues and I have developed an understanding of the ingredients for a successful strategy map session. All members of the leadership team in attendance, and fully engaged (e-mail and telephone calls only permitted on breaks, no laptops or PDAs allowed). No more than about fifteen people in the room. A carefully developed draft strategy map that has been previewed with the leader of the organization. The pacing of the discussions that enhance and revise the draft map must be carefully managed, and it is important to “read the room” to sense when it is time to seek closure on a discussion.

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25 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part II

In Part I of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Part I now if you haven’t done so already.

As I requested, Linda accompanied me to each of the interviews, and was able to provide valuable context and insight into what was revealed. Some members of Reggie’s leadership team were enthusiastic, and well informed about the intent of the program, but at least a couple of them had no idea what was going on, and seemed especially impatient with our use of an hour of their time for the interview. All knew of the upcoming full-day kick-off and strategy map workshop, but some were clearly skeptical. Linda wasn’t surprised. She told me that Reggie rarely met with his team as a whole, and that each of those managers was operating fairly autonomously. There were also some mild rivalries among those team members. Reggie was seen by Linda and others as having a “hands-off” leadership style.  

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24 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part I

Current events in the U.S. have reminded me of a rather challenging client I had several years ago. Although all of the names and some of the details here have been changed to protect the identity of the client organization and individuals involved, it is very much a real experience, and sadly, not all that unusual in the annals of balanced scorecard programs.

Our firm was approached by Karen, the energetic and charismatic head of strategy for WorldCo, a major division of a large U.S. corporation whose name would be instantly recognizable to anyone reading this case. Her mission was to implement balanced scorecard in WorldCo as the basis for a strategic management system, and as a tool to drive an overarching strategic change program. She had proposed the idea and earned the blessing of the division head Reggie, an executive who appeared every so often in favorable interviews about leadership in business periodicals.

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