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Dynamic Strategic Planning

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Dynamic strategic planningThe old “once a year break-away session” to do strategic planning, to drive an action plan and determine the key performance areas for the year does not work in today’s fast changing business environment anymore. Business have to be way more adaptable in setting, driving, implementing and managing strategies. Likewise BI has to be way more agile to support the business through these processes.

More “traditional” executives often have preconceived ideas about the current position of the organisation, its direction and the possible avenues through which it can pursue a particular course of action – without reflecting too much on how to incorporate these ideas into a strategic plan. It is for this reason that the approach to strategy and the notion of “strategic planning” in so many organisations remains mired in what once was a ‘stable’ 20th century kind of static, top-down focused model. Strategic workshop sessions were conducted once a year, and the rest of the year was spent implementing the strategy. In more information-mature organisations the implementation of the strategy  was tracked by measuring and reporting on a set of key KPIs.

However, this no longer works well in the fast-changing 21st century business environment. According to studies conducted by KPMG, over 85% of strategic planning processes fail. Based on my experience and having confirmed this after a vast amount of research and following conversations that have emerged on a number of blog sites – one of the main reasons for these failures is due to the fact that traditional strategic planning provides ‘the illusion of control’ – a concept driven by one of the world’s leading strategic planning scholars, Henry Mintzberg. What this means is that, as most people carry out strategic planning the traditional way, they unwittingly build into it assumptions and strategies over which they personally have little or no control. Thus, the saying, “if you plan it, it will happen” comes about – often very difficult even for the more experienced planners to avoid. Likewise, the implementations of the systems, or changes to existing systems, as required to implement and track the strategy are also going to keep on failing.

The turmoil we are currently observing has to do with the rapid pace of change, and if we do not change our current mind-set and the way we approach strategic planning, we are most likely to see even more of the same traditional static planning approaches and corresponding dinosaur systems.

So the key objective for executives in the current business climate should be to drive their organisations to become quick-to-learn and quick-to-adapt, thus ensuring the survival and success of the business. Forward planning, fast adoption, as well as frequent evaluation and fast adaptation of these plans are paramount to being successful in the fast-changing business place. One way of doing this is through the involvement of the CIO to drive the dynamic plan by means of strategic vision and of course, with the help of technology. (For more detail on this, see my post on the changing role of the CIO with respect to BI).

If Business Intelligence technology is going to support this approach, it has to utilize agile implementation approaches. Only through agile delivery can BI contribute to the making and tracking of such adaptable business strategies. Just as the business should be able to change its strategy midway through implementing the “previous” key performance area, so should BI be able to switch sprint priorities midway through an implementation.

In summary, dynamic strategic planning coupled with an agile approach to implementing BI should be used as a means to becoming a quick-to-learn and quick-to-adapt organisation.

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