Reinventing Strategic Planning

 

A Research Based 21st Century Success Framework
by Stephen Haines
 
Reinventing vs Reengineering 
There has been much talk in the past 10 years about the term "reengineering this" or "reengineering that." However, the Haines Centre for Strategic Management believes that what we have done over the past 13 years is "re-in­vented" the Strategic Planning Process.  We differentiate our work frorn reengineering because our re-inventing process started with a blank sheet of paper.  We then completely re-invented a new Strategic Plan­ning Process based on Systems Thinking for the first time.  We turned it into a 21st Cen­tury Yearly Strategic Management System and Cycle that high performance organiza­tions use - resulting inmany fundamental differences from the past.
 This is contrasted with "refining" a Strategic Planning Process—which is fine tuning or tinkering with a few areas. Fine tuning comes under the heading of "Continuous Improvement," part of the Total Quality Management (TQM) concept. "Reengineering" is a more radical redesign, still within the existing structure of what already exists, yet a radical (and important) improvement in ef­ficiency.  We at the Centre, however, started only with the proverbial blank sheet of paper and the Systems Thinking framework. 

We asked ourselves the number one question from Systems Thinking, which is, "What is the purpose, or goal, or outcome that we're after?"  All past and most current Strategic Planning efforts do not start here—we do. 

 

Frorn that question, we defined the now standard three goals for every organization:
Goal #I: Develop strategic and annual plans and documents;
Goal #2: Ensure successful roll out, implementation and change;
Goal #3: Build and sustain high perfor­mance over the long term.
 
Within this set of three goals, we then asked ourselves, "What frarnework should we use?"
 
We quickly decided on the Systems Thinking Approach (based on the science General Sys­tems Theory).  It is a more natural way for society and all of us as members of this planet to think and live, than traditional linear and piecemeal/analytic thinking.  All living systems naturally live within the General Systerns Theory framework (and our copyrighted A-B-C-D-E "new orienta­tion to life"). See the chart below for the five key points of General Systems Theory from this A-B-C-D-E framework. We put locators on this framework and called them Phase A, Phase B, Phase C, and so on. This gives us some "locator" places upon which to discuss and build our Strategic Planning and Change Processes and system. It is designed to meet the three goals of strategic management.
  

The Re-Inventing Process 

 

Once we set up the Sys­tems Thinking Frame­work, we then started to figure out how to use it as an integrated organizing framework to reinvent the Strategic Planning and Change process into a Yearly Strategic Manage­ment Cycle.  We conduct­ed a 1991 literature search and an analysis and comparison of 27 different Strategic Planning and Change models for com­parisons of the Strategic Planning and Change research with these other popular models, theories, and literature sources.  We also further researched General Systerns Theory as the most gener­al, logical way to describe any living systern.  We continue this literature search today. 
In particular, we looked at George Steiner's 1979 landmark book in the field of Strate­gic Planning.  We also drew heavily on the my experiences as CEO of Haines Centre and as the chief planning executive for two major corporations.  In addition, my experience as a senior executive and as an internal corpo­rate consultant for over 30 years in the areas of change management, planning, and HR management were invaluable. 
As the past-President of University Associ­ates (UA) Consulting and Training Services, I was in charge of a prestigious international firm in the Strategic Planning and Change Management Consulting and Training field. UA had a then 1984 state-of-the-art Strategic and Systems Thinking Strategic Planning model entitled "Applied Strategic Planning."

However, by the 1990s it was in major need of improvement.  We drew on the experi­ences of all the Centre partners and of lead externaI practitioners in Strategic Planning across North America including Michael Kami of IBM and Xerox fame; Russell Ackoff, a Renaissance Professor at the University of Pennsylvania; Bill Pfeiffer, Len Goodstein, and Tim Nolan, the authors of the Applied Strategic Planning model from UA; and Dr. Henry Migiore, the Dean of Oral Roberts University Business School for over 17 years.

Once we concluded this research, we built our first Strategic Planning and Change mod­els using the A-B-C-D-E locators.  Preceding our first finished model, we did a critique and analysis of numerous drafts by many leading practitioners and experts in the field.  We used the Delphi Technique over and over again, then tested the model in real time with clients and in training programs.
Only then did we finalize it enough to memorialize it as an "integrated organizing framework" in both our four-color Strategic Planning and Change models.  That was com­pleted in 1992.  However, we fine tune and revise these models each year including a 2007 enhancement through continuous client feedback.  They show us how to make the models work in daily practice.
Once we felt we knew enough and had perfected the frameworks successfully with clients for a period of years, we wrote two books on the topic.  One is called Reinventing Strategic Planning - the Systems Thinking Approach and the other is called Strategic Planning Simplified.  This writing forced us to continue to clarify all points of our practice in order to put them into writing in an elegantly simple way for the reader.
Finally, in 2007 we completed a comprehen­sive environmental scan and reexamined/ fine-tuned our Strategic Management System to ensure it is now a 21 st Century success framework.

The Results

 

As a result of our re-inventing, we developed the strategic model that we use as a cor­nerstone of our practice (see Reinventing Strategic Planning model above).
This Strategic Management System has 15 unique concepts and paradigm changes.  These are very different from the popular models we studied even throughout the `90s and still up until today. What we ended up accomplishing is "re-inventing" Strategic Planning into a systems model of a Yearly Strategic Management System that moves beyond planning alone into implementa­tion. It includes a Plan-to-Plan phase and a Plan-to-Implement phase. The steps include team building and leadership skill building as a part of the planning, as well as a Strategic IQ Audit similiar to a yearly financial audit.

  

Parallel Process  

It also includes the need for the process of planning to reinforce the concept that people support what they help create."  Thus, there is a need for a Parallel Process that involves all key stakeholders. Buy-in is key to implementation.

 

 

Where to Start and Why 

 

Overall, it is a systems approach that starts with a Futuristic Environmental Scan, and then defines the Ideal Future Vision, Mission, Values and Marketplace Positioning you want to achieve (your outcomes/end state first). Other models begin with a Current State Assessment—we do not. 
Only after scanning the future environment (Phase E) and defining your Ideal Future (Phase A) should you develop a Current State Assessment (or SWOT) and strategies to "close the gap" and achieve this vision. Without starting with the future, there is no "gap" - just problem solving "more of the same. "  The systems approach transcends Strategic Planning into implementation at the annual planning and budgeting level.  Then it moves to change management and implementation via our Business Excellence Architecture model. It ultimately leads to updating the Strategic Plan on a yearly basis, another new, yet common-sense, concept.
 

Experiential Process, Too 

 

 

At a more macro level, the process itself is very experiential. We believe in helping clients find their own answers and meaning in the plan, not our answers.  This is based on adult learning theory where, "adults learn best by doing."  We translate this to our common sense concept of "people support what they help create."
 

 

Your Competitive Edge

 

Once clients have been through our process, we find these typical kinds of competitive edges result for them:
1. A Yearly Strategic Management System and Cycle is instituted as a new way to run their company more effectively and more efficiently.  We find it focuses the direction of the entire organization from top to bottom.
2. Executives and middle managers develop themselves strategically and conceptu­ally as leaders and build an executive team and teamwork that cascades down through all levels of management. In fact,we find that a strong empowering and values-based culture begins to develop.
3. The typical bottom-line results clients desire show up dramatically in the sec­ond year. Great progress is made towards their "Business Excellence" - their vision and achieving their measures of success. Specifics obviously depend on whether the company is in the public, private, or not-for-profit sector. However, all of those who seriously build this Strategic Man­agement System based on their StrategicPlan are well on their way to achieving their Ideal Future Vision. We see them achieve a Quadruple Bottom Line.  To wit,(1) not only do we see solid private sec­tor financial results,but we also find theother kinds of bottom-line achievementssuch as (2) increased customer and (3) employee satisfaction, as well as (4) better contributions to society.
4. Ultimately each organization begins to be much clearer on what their competi­tive "positioning" in the marketplace is and find themselves moving positively in that direction, to the delight of their customers. (Our Star Positioning)
The Centre has re-invented Strategic Plan­ning starting from a blank sheet of paper.  We used Systems Thinking and our A­-B-C-D-E framework. We researched the 27 different planning and change authors men­tioned earlier to figure out how to make surethat it was a research-based and integrated Strategic Management Process. We wanted a new way to run the business in a more strategic way.  When clients tailor this system to their needs and institutional­ize it in the second year, the competitive edge they seek is on track and positive results flow.
 

In Summary: A Strategic Management System—"The Imperative for Survival"

 

Organizations need a Systems Thinking Approach® to a Strategic Management System with a Yearly Cycle to become high perform­ing organizations (not just budgeting cycles).