Archive for the ‘i. Planning’ Category.

Introduction

“The knowledge management tool for strategic planning is going to be the reality of our time.” That is how I would like to start this study pieces. I offer you this statement because I wish to persuade you to my creativity. The intention is to raise and suggest solution to a problem and invite you to reflect and think about the preliminary outcome of the study.

By any large, our thought or action in understanding and engaging of matters cannot be taken for granted. We must be systematic and specific on doing things to achieve our desired attitude, program, and functionality. However, our shortcomings in strategic planning have brought us into unstable disposition to achieve our purpose. The premise is that, there is something fundamentally wrong with our method in feeling, reflecting, thinking, and taking on matters efficiently with respect to the law, professional ethics, and human nature. That is, we fail to generate results that satisfy the true requirements and conditions placed upon us by ourselves and others. To resolve these problems, we must uncover and examine some of their theoretical and practical sources to identify corresponding solution.

There are many evidences of existence of our shortcomings in strategic planning. One of the evidence could arise in our lack of understanding on the process and planning language – the lack of understanding on the process and planning language of strategic planning brings about group strategy formulation difficulties. It is a situation wherein the possible numbers of participants to work on the same strategy could get in the way of group’s ability to work effectively. By reason of, that possible number of participants may not be ready to engage on group strategy formulation because of their lack of understanding on the process and planning language of strategic planning. That is, group strategy formulation requires collaborative and cooperative effort among participants who must be individually strategic. A further, many of our educational institutions do not offer strategic planning training. Or company and/or individuals in informal education, and training and/or professional institutions do offer strategic planning training only to people who can afford the course like those people in executive and managerial positions.

Another evidence of existence of our shortcomings in strategic planning is that the participants who collaborate and cooperate on the same strategy may not be working on it at the same time, so they may not be in the position to talk things over and keep each other informed about details of the plan. This difficulty may happen because collaboration and cooperation is impeded often by barriers of time.

Then within our belief, the problem arises because of our ignorance that affects or influences our decision-making[1] – the condition is influenced by the lack of view one feels, reflects, thinks, or takes on matters. One may believe that confusion (a belief crisis) may arise from the condition. The manifestation of our belief crisis could explain why our behavior behaves disorderly or negatively in achieving favorable results. A good example is that, one may fail to determine how s/he can act out in society and how s/he can live his/her lives because the belief crisis may hinder him/her to fulfill the essence of his/her endeavor.

Next we lack tools that assess our readiness and help us develop our skill sets and/or expertise to engage matters. The lack of tools explains why we from time to time stop and remedy our situation, if not hinder us to achieve our goals and/or objectives. It is a condition wherein we always take to address and confront our avoidable concerns and/or issues of matters. This usually involves various driving forces, or major influences that affect our behavior negatively in achieving favorable results.

Lastly within our expectation and hope-for-results, the problem arises because of strategic planning deficiency. It is a situation wherein the plan is not producing the intended results. The following questions of Harris, Hank M., Eight Problems With Your Firm’s Strategic Plan, might be helpful in confirming, explaining, and understanding more some risks with this problem[2].

1. Does our process produce a plan that’s “real?” I have seen many planning efforts involving a facilitator who knows nothing about the industry (for example, a generic management consultant) or one who knows too much (a former practitioner). For lack of a better approach, these facilitators run everyone through an academic model. The result is a hyperbole-laden mission statement and a dozen loftily written goals. Nowhere in the process did the participants adequately ask themselves how to gain a competitive advantage or produce results in the market. They have a strategic plan, but they have no strategy.

2. Is our plan “strategic?” Two issues are involved. First, did you use a model that lends itself to a strategic plan–not to be confused with a business plan, a marketing plan, or a five-year financial projection? Second, did you deal with strategic issues? Many planning teams wind up discussing operational issues if the facilitator does not remain vigilant.

3. Do we have adequate external focus? Firms that have never been through the process often produce plans that are internally focused. Good strategy is externally focused. If your plan drives towards markets, clients, alliances, acquisitions, etc., you’re probably in good shape. If it focuses more on “reengineering your core processes” or housekeeping issues, get ready for your staff to start sending you Dilbert cartoons.

4. Do we make sufficient use of outsiders? You definitely want to use some outside participants or facilitators. Many firms boast of doing strategic planning all by themselves, but that approach is flawed. Surgeons do not operate on themselves or their family, and lawyers maintain that “he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The dynamics are the same in a good planning process.

5. Does our plan really work for the organization? For it to work, the plan must be effectively communicated and sold inside the organization. In working with senior management planning teams, I have occasionally asked them to write down their firm mission from memory. Often this request produces a chuckle and then a realization. After all, if senior managers don’t know their firm mission, how can it possibly mean anything downstream? Similarly, the plan must become part of the firm’s collective conscience. It must really drive behavior. Involve people, refer to the plan at meetings, and promote it. If you go through all the work to develop a plan and then let everyone forget it, you have wasted company time and resources.

6. Is our plan actionable? Occasionally, the top people dream up a lot of ideas, commit them to paper, and call the exercise strategic planning–even though no actions or measures of progress are put in place. Without specific assignments to individuals, due dates, and measurable objectives, the plan may be little more than a wish list. Obviously, no strategy is worth much until it’s implemented. The plan needs to be translated into measurable components and discrete individual activities.

7. Is anybody doing anything? Someone has to follow up to ensure that people execute the plan. People say they will work on strategic initiatives, but then go back to their everyday roles and spend all of their time on “real work.” After all, it’s more immediate, tangible, and within their comfort zone. I’m not advocating management by embarrassment, but there must be enough follow-up, rewards, and consequences to put teeth into the actions. If nothing else, the process should enable you to get more done than you would have otherwise.

8. Are we getting lost in executing tactics, but missing the big picture? At the other end of the spectrum, some firms (especially engineering firms) get things done, but the group becomes so absorbed in tactics that they lose sight of the overall goal or strategy. Strategic planning is just the framework for strategic thinking. To be effective, your planning team must regularly reengage the process and reassess the quality and viability of the overall strategy. The best strategy usually evolves. It doesn’t just happen over a partners’ weekend.

Needlessly, we spend so much time passing through this thought or action on which we repeat the same behavior over and over. We usually failed to realize that such impositions does not accomplish what we think we really want to accomplish and may even be making matters worse, if not trapped in unsuccessful behavior, wasted time – the most careful observation of this behavior and what are known as absence of order behavior, which I intend to emphasize is disorder. The following seventeen basic syndromes of organizational disorders of Albrecht, Karl, 17 Basic Syndromes of Dysfunction: The Power of Minds at Work: Organizational Intelligence in Action, 2002, might be helpful in explaining and understanding more some certain risks of this behavior[3].

1. ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder. Senior management cannot seem to focus on any one primary goal, strategy, or problem long enough to gain momentum in solving it. Typically, the CEO or the top team will hop around from one new preoccupation to another, often reacting to some recent event, such as a hot new trend, a key move by a competitor, or a change in the marketplace. A variation of this syndrome, the “too many irons in the fire” syndrome, involves a whole raft of programs, or “initiatives,” most of which squander resources and dilute the focus of attention.

2. Anarchy: When the Bosses Won’t Lead. A weak, divided, or distracted executive team fails to provide the clear sense of direction, momentum, and goal focus needed by the extended management team. A war between the CEO and the board, or a major battle among the members of the top team can leave the organization without a rudder. Lacking a clear focus and a set of meaningful priorities, people begin to scatter their efforts into activities of their own choosing. Without a sense of higher purpose, unit leaders put their own priorities and political agendas above the success of the enterprise.

3. Anemia: Only the Deadwood Survives. After a series of economic shocks, downsizings, layoffs, palace wars, and purges, the talented people have long since left for better pastures, leaving the losers and misfits lodged in the woodwork. They have more at stake in staying put, so they outlast the more talented employees. When conditions start to improve, the organization typically lacks the talent, energy, and dynamism needed to capitalize on better times.

4. Caste System: The Anointed and the Untouchables. Some organizations have an informal, “shadow” structure based on certain aspects of social or professional status, which everybody knows about and most people avoid talking about. Military headquarters organizations, for example, tend to have three distinct camps: officers, enlisted people (or, as the British call them “other ranks”), and civilian staff. Hospitals tend to have very rigid caste systems, with doctors at the top of the heap, nurses in the next lower caste, and non-medical people toward the bottom. Universities and other academic or research organizations tend to have very clearly defined categories of status, usually based on tenure or standing in one’s field. These castes never appear on the organization chart, but they dominate collective behavior every day. Caste categories usually set up de facto boundaries, promote factionalism, and tempt the in-group members to serve their own social and political needs at the expense of the organization and to the detriment of the lower castes.

5. Civil War: The Contest of Ideologies. The organization disintegrates into two or more mega-camps, each promoting a particular proposition, value system, business ideology, or local hero. The split can originate from the very top level, or it can express profound differences between subcultures, e.g. engineering and marketing, nursing and administration, or the editorial culture and the business offices. In some cases, the dynamic tension between ideologies can work to the benefit of the enterprise; in other cases it can cripple the whole operation.

6. Despotism: Fear & Trembling. A tyrannical CEO or an overall ideology of oppression coming from the top causes people to engage in avoidance behavior at the expense of goal-seeking behavior. A few episodes in which people get axed for disagreeing with the chief, or for questioning the lack of ethics and leadership, and everybody soon learns: keep your head down and don’t draw attention to yourself.

7. Fat, Dumb, and Happy: If It Ain’t Broke… Management guru Peter Drucker once observed, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first grant forty years of business success.” Even in the face of an imminent threat to the basic business model, the executives cannot muster a sense of concern, and cannot come to consensus on the need to reinvent the business.

8. General Depression: Nothing to Believe In. Sometimes things get really bad, such as during an economic downturn or a rough period for the enterprise, and senior management utterly fails to create and maintain any kind of empathic contact with the rank and file. Feeling abandoned and vulnerable, the front line people sink into a state of discouragement, low morale, and diminished commitment.

9. Geriatric Leadership: Retired on the Job. When a CEO has had his or her day, either for reasons of physical health, psychological arthritis, or personal obsolescence, he or she may hang on to the helm too long, refusing to bring in new blood, new ideas, and new talent. This syndrome can extend to the whole top team, whose members may have grown old together, committed to an obsolete ideology which once made the enterprise successful, but which now threatens to sink it.

10. The Looney CEO: Crazy Makes Crazy. When the chief’s behavior goes beyond the merely colorful and verges on the maladjusted, the people in the inner circle start behaving in their own crazy ways, in reaction to the lack of an integrated personality at the top. This begins to look like a kind of syndicated craziness to the people down through the ranks, who find themselves perpetually baffled, bemused, and frustrated by the increasing lack of coherence in executive decisions and actions.

11. Malorganization: Structural Arthritis. A defective organizational architecture works passively and unremittingly against the achievement of the mission. Departmental boundaries that don’t align with the natural processes of the operation or its work flow, conflicting responsibilities and competitive missions, and unnatural subdivisions of critical mission areas impose high communication costs, inhibit collaboration, and foster internal competition.

12. The Monopoly Mentality: Our Divine Right. When an organization has long enjoyed a dominant position in its environment, either because of a natural monopoly or a circumstantial upper hand, its leaders tend to think like monopolists. Unable or unwilling to think in competitive terms, and unable to innovate or even reinvent the business model, they become sitting ducks for invading competitors who want their piece of the pie.

13. The One-man Band: Clint Eastwood Rules. A “cowboy” type of CEO, who feels no need or responsibility to share his or her master plan with subordinates, keeps everybody in the organization guessing about the next move. This creates dependency and learned incapacity on the part of virtually all leaders down through the hierarchy, and renders them reactive rather than potentially proactive.

14. The Rat Race: They Keep Moving the Cheese. The culture of the enterprise, either by design or by the style of a particular industry or business sector, burns out its most talented people. A prevailing notion that one must sacrifice his or her personal well being in order to get ahead, possibly in pursuit of big financial rewards, definitely creates a goal focus, but at the expense of cooperation, esprit de corps, and individual humanity. A reduction in the commissions or other elements of the financial cheese creates a sense of victimization and resentment, not a sense of shared fate.

15. Silos: Cultural & Structural. The organization disintegrates into a group of isolated camps, each defined by the desire of its chieftains to achieve a favored position with the royal court, i.e. senior management and the kingmakers at the top. With little incentive to cooperate, collaborate, share information, or team up to pursue mission-critical outcomes, the various silos develop impervious boundaries. Local warlords tend to serve their individual, parochial agendas, and evolve patterns of operating that favor their units’ suboptimal interests at the expense of the interests of the enterprise. These silo patterns tend to create fracture lines down through the organization, polarizing the people who have to interact across them.

16. Testosterone Poisoning: Men Will Be Boys. In male-dominated industries or organizational cultures such as military units, law enforcement agencies, and primary industries, the rewards for aggressive, competitive, and domineering behaviors far outweigh the rewards for collaboration, creativity, and sensitivity to abstract social values. In non-”coed” organizations, i.e. those with fewer than about 40% females in key roles, executives, managers and male co-workers tend to assign females to culturally stereotyped roles with little power, influence, or access to opportunity. This gender-caste system wastes talent and often stifles innovation and creativity.

17. The Welfare State: Why Work Hard? Organizations that have no natural threats to their existence, such as government agencies, universities, and publicly funded operations, typically evolve into cultures of complacency. In a typical government agency, it’s more important not to be wrong than it is to be right. Lots of people have “no-go” power, i.e. the power to veto or passively oppose innovation, but very few people have “go” power, or the capacity to originate and champion initiatives. Welfare cultures tend to syndicate blame and accountability just as they syndicate authority: you can’t take risks, but if anything goes wrong you get to blame the system.

Moreover, the question, how can we achieve the validity and reliability of strategy with these shortcomings and difficulties in strategic planning, however, remain unanswered. Thus, the intention of combating these shortcomings and difficulties in strategic planning is the key factors why the current phase of creativity and development of the study is made into existence.

References:

[1] Quevedo, Orlando B. O.M.I., D.D., The Challenges of the Great Jubilee to Catechesis and Catholic Education, CBCP Monitor, that all may be one… Jn. 17:21, VOL. IV No. 20, October 8, 2000

[2] Harris, Hank M., Eight Problems With Your Firm’s Strategic Plan, URL address: http://www.planning.org/consultant/eightpr.html

[3] Albrecht, Karl, 17 Basic Syndromes of Dysfunction: The Power of Minds at Work: Organizational Intelligence in Action, 2002

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