Companies rethink strategy

by 11 Nov 2008

Executives – unhappy with strategic planning processes that they feel have become ossified and bureaucratic – are reinventing how they develop strategies, according to a recent report. Executives are also reportedly looking at ways to generate enthusiasm for, ownership of, and alignment around, strategies.

The report, Does Your Strategy Need Stretching?, released by The Boston Consulting Group, found that in boosting engagement, processes start to yield not just good strategies but also good strategists.

This engagement is achieved by changing the tone from static presentation to freewheeling dialogue, accelerating the rhythm with more frequent and focused discussions of strategy, creating new forums for strategic debate and redefining the role of the corporate centre as agenda-setting, coaching and orchestration of the process.

“Stretching empowers the organisation to shape its destiny through shared strategic aspirations, to enhance its preparedness and agility in turbulent times and to foster enthusiasm and engagement,” said Michael Deimler, co-author of the report and global leader of Boston Consulting Group’s strategy practice.

“While few companies are stretching on all three dimensions today, all would benefit from reviewing and reinvigorating their strategy-development approaches.” The report found that companies are increasingly taking distinctly different approaches to strategising for the long term, medium term and short term.

When thinking long term (five or more years out), a broadly shared strategic vision of possible “futures” and the company’s ideal position in each is the goal.

In the medium term (three to five years out), the goal is a business plan that describes the investments and moves required to realise and create value from the strategic vision.

And, in the short term, the objective is to ensure consistency and make smart trade-offs between the business plan and budgetary realities.

“Faced with increasingly changeable markets, executives are not abandoning strategy and long-term thinking,” said Nicolas Kachaner, co-author of the report and a senior partner in Boston Consulting Group’s Paris office.

“On the contrary, they are embracing new strategy-development approaches that help them not only to see new opportunities sooner, but also to seize them more decisively.”


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