Alternative Futures And Responsiveness

Interesting post by Holly Green on the importance of regarding strategic plans as dynamic interacting entities that need to be responsive to changes in the business environment:

The problem is that strategic plans never unfold exactly as written. The world simply doesn’t work that way. Too many factors, both internal and external, are involved for any plan to unfold without some degree of change along the way.

But instead of making adjustments in response to changing circumstances, many leaders insist on sticking to the plan as written. They either see the changes as temporary blips to be ridden out. Or, more often, they get too locked into the future as spelled out in the plan, and fail to respond to significant changes in markets, customers and global conditions.

This can be countered by proactive monitoring (even though this may be plagued with information uncertainties):

When monitoring the environment, pay close attention to uncertainties. For example, what assumptions are you making about your markets and customers, and are they still valid? What are your customers and suppliers uncertain about? What are their customers and suppliers uncertain about?

When reviewing your strategy implementation, ask questions like: What has changed, internally or externally, that might alter or undermine our strategy? Is our strategy working as expected? Are we executing correctly? If not, what do we need to refine or change in order to get back on track?

Often after significant resources have been put into planning there can be a certain amount of loss of face if it proves not to be suitable. Hence it’s doggedly carried on. Change would be far easier if right from the start the assumptions and uncertainties in the strategy were made explicit and so it was expected to change as the environment changes, just like most complex systems.

Picture credit: here.

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