A successful strategy planning effort brings together diverse interests to focus on critical needs and propel an organization into action. Yet, many strategy sessions consume valuable hours only to reach conclusions that seem rather obvious: “Reduce overhead to drive down costs” or “Simplify process to shorten cycle time.”
What is the secret ingredient that determines this difference? The answer is discipline: From start to finish, disciplined use of time and resources, methodology, and a pragmatic execution supported with disciplined communication.
A good strategy incorporates short- and long-term needs, with the right balance of immediate and future payback. It’s created with a methodical approach to cut through the clutter of abstract and ungrounded impressions and get to specifics. There is no one big leap, no single defining action and no miracle shortcut.
Keys to a Successful Strategy Roadmap
No matter how dramatic the end result, a great strategy almost always starts with the right vision at the top including clear targets, commitment with a sufficient investment and accountability.
Naturally, success starts with a management buy-in, the ability to lead by example and create opportunities for others to get involved. Equally important are:
- A clear, well-planned approach
- A properly prepared, supportive workforce
- Data-driven feedback loops to test predications and support refining the approach or reframing challenges
Without all three, a strategic plan is worthless. Change is difficult, so aligning hearts and minds is also key. The perceived disruption that comes with change requires proper incentives to guarantee organizational commitment for successful execution.
A More Profitable Way to Strategic Planning
One of Paragon’s CTO clients was given a cost efficiency target to meet within his first 100 days. In a traditional cost reduction exercise, senior management sets overall targets and each line organization is required to hit the number with hard-dollar spending to be cut. This is an accepted industry approach.
But the client understood the implications: arbitrarily reducing cost such as headcount could eliminate the opportunity to right-size the technology portfolio while maintaining critical skill sets. This path would simply set up the organization for additional cuts.
Paragon partnered with the client’s team to create an action plan around specific priorities with the flexibility to invest while still hitting cost reduction targets. Next, Paragon examined the portfolio of 600+ applications and cataloged them by business values, technology fit and cost. We built a three-year roadmap by analyzing the opportunities for consolidation, conversion or retirement. This approach provided the client with a comprehensive knowledge of the application portfolio including mapping each application to the supported business processes, establishing ownership and current/projected technology spend. The immediate decommissioning yielded 30% of the overall goal and freed up staff for high return initiatives.
Please share your thoughts or examples of how companies apply strategic thinking for bigger rewards financially and operationally.