Strategic Planning Simplified


Markets, competition, regulations, and access to capital are four subject areas start up organizations need to be up to speed on as a prerequisite to strategic planning.

Danger

For established organizations, where there is an established infrastructure, organizations need to “stick to their knitting” or initiate complex risk/uncertainty studies before wandering into unknown territory.

How to carry out strategic planning is the focus of this blog post.

Corporations used to have to contend with “too little information, in the wrong place”, in other words, decisions were often made without adequate information, or, the information was available somewhere within the organization but could not be brought to bear on a particular decision.

Today, the problem is “too much information, everywhere” so the challenge is how to pull information together to facilitate decision making.

I favor a methodology that involves the use of knowledgebases with free-form search/association capabilities as opposed to traditional “mind map” approaches.

Wikipedia starts off saying “A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea.”

This makes mind mapping a self-limiting concept. “Mind Map” software vendors seem to subscribe to this definition, or, more likely, the software came first and the definition followed.

Since the purpose of strategic planning is to crystallize ideas, we certainly don’t want to restrict strategic planning to any single idea or, in the early stages at least, be required to explore different ideas in different domains.  And, the idea of a single hub with spokes leading out to hierarchies of objects immediately seems limiting to anyone who has taken Geometry 101 (i.e. a circle can only have 360 degrees and if you want to have labels that you can read at intermediate and end nodes you need more and more real estate on your screen).

The model that seems to work the best is a “connect-the-dots” approach where you seemingly engage in random positioning of strategic objects such as markets, competitors,  legal texts, existing/potential products, infrastructure (plants/offices, departments, units, staff, equipment, financial resources) on a sheet and proceed to link objects as a stakeholder group evolves the strategy.

How to carry out strategy development is important for efficiency. Doing this on whiteboards, or on rolls of brown paper quickly brings facilitators to where their audiences glaze over as they draw and re-draw objects.  An electronic approach removes many of the frustrations.

Starter selection criteria for knowledgbase criteria, for me, are:

a) unlimited screen real estate/objects on a sheet or canvas with the ability to create space easily;

b) ability to accommodate  any number of structured forms and unstructured data collection screens at objects on a sheet including  text, documents, images, spreadsheets, AV presentations;

c) an alias capability because different users will want different views of the data;

d) ability to carry out Gap analyses, assign responsibility for closing Gaps, farm out sections of a sheet, import/consolidate and carry out periodic status reviews on progress toward closing Gaps;

e) a free-form search capability that highlights what was found and what was not found;

f) easy extension of Kbase objects/forms without the need to make changes to back end data structures.

An example of a knowledgebase can be found at

http://civerex.com/pages/cmanlar.html

The Satellite Inventory demo lists orbiting satellites, plus launch sites and launch vehicles. The search capability allows users to discover which particular type of satellites using a particular launch vehicle were put in orbit by a particular country/contractor over a designated timeframe.

The ‘Russian Doll’ information collapse/expand technique used is handy for 2-dimensional space representations, a 3-D animated spherical representation probably would be easier to work with in this KBase application.

About kwkeirstead@civerex.com

Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, healthcare services delivery, job shop manufacturing and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2017 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
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