A Chief Executive said to me recently, “I want two things – a really well defined business strategy with detailed plans of action and my people signed up and fully engaged in its implementation. I’ve never been satisfied with the business planning process – it’s just something that we seem to write every year and then put on the shelf until we dust it off the next year. And I don’t seem to be able get my people on board, fired up and raring to go to drive the changes that we need”.
It’s a common problem. Many organisations go through the motions on business planning – someone in top management wants a business plan done and it gets prepared, reviewed upstairs and then put on the shelf. It’s not really used, it’s not at the centre of how the organisation goes about its business – and even if the organisation is committed to some kind of fundamental transformation, the business plan is often not at the heart of the improvement efforts.
On the other hand, just about every Investors In People (IIP) survey ever undertaken shows clearly that people right across and down the organisation feel that they don’t understand where the business is headed, what the key priorities are and what their own part is in driving it there. As a consequence, they tend to feel disconnected and sometimes disillusioned – “it’s mushroom management, all over again!!”
Based upon the balanced scorecard and strategy mapping approach developed by Kaplan and Norton, we in Four Pillars have developed our own approach to strategy development and business plan deployment. Providing a systematic approach and the engagement of up to one hundred people in the process, it can be deployed with the corporate management team or with other functional leaders and their teams, offering fantastic results in terms of clarity, focus, commitment and action.
David Atkinson provides an overview of strategy mapping, explaining the cause and effect relationship between each perspective
We begin by helping clients to clarify their five year business vision, mission and key priorities. Then, using the four elements of the balanced scorecard as a starting point, we define the critical financial goals and the market sectors and customer value propositions. As we progress through the programme, we ask the group to first answer the question, “How can we work together to increase revenue and reduce costs?” and then “How can we build the relationship with our customers so that we can add value and offer better service”.
The Vision, Mission, Key Priorities, Financial and Customer Perspective define the Business Plan and will generally more than meet any requirement from the top management for a detailed plan.
Next we develop the Business Improvement Plan. Using the financial and customer perspectives to give clear business objectives, we then work with clients to define the critical process improvements that are required and the learning and development needs.
This systematic approach helps the participants in the planning process to deeply understand the cause and effect relationship between the financial objectives and what they need to achieve with their customers, their critical processes and with their skills, their technology infrastructure and their leadership and culture (the Learning and Development Perspective).
We facilitate this process by developing a Strategy Map with the planning participants which then becomes a one slide pictorial presentation of the Strategy which is perfect for briefing out across the organisation.
Each aspect of the Process and the Learning and Development Perspectives will require detailed development and we support the teams that will undertake the planning with templates and facilitation to develop the Business Improvement Plan.
The benefits of this approach are extraordinary. A clear overarching focus for the organisation, a wide understanding of the priorities and the plans to approach them and a wave of enthusiasm for tackling the biggest issues. In other words, the all of the foundations for successful business transformation at its very best.
If you would like to hear much more about how Four Pillars goes about applying this approach with our clients, simply email us or subscribe to our blog for more reflections and insights on strategy and business transformation.
By David Atkinson