Overview of our Strategic Management Plan
The Strategic Management program utilized by B/D Solutions creates the processes needed to establish a strong service-based and customer-driven organization. The program defines a common vision and then establishes an agreed upon decision making progress to ensure steady progress toward the vision. In short, we help the organization define their goals (Strategic Planning) and more importantly, help them develop the means to achieve those goals (Strategic Management).
The first step in this process is to explore and define "The Utopian Vision" of the organization. This immeasurable vision represents the never-ending drive to develop and improve the organization. Once refined, it may take the form of a mission statement. An example of a Utopian Vision might be:
"To be the premiere provider of financial services within our target market."
Next, an extensive series of discussions is held to craft the foundation of a detailed strategic plan. Throughout these discussions it is extremely important to focus on WHAT the plans for the organization are - and HOW to achieve them. The standard planning topics include:
- Defining the Customer (in detail)
- Identifying Core Competencies
- Identifying Current Capabilities
- Analyzing Service Competitiveness
- Analyzing Market Competition
- Identifying Organizational Weaknesses
When this foundation of information is complete, it is formalized and condensed into a few (4 to 6) Key Strategic Issues. These Key Strategic Issues are the primary challenges facing the firm and are stated in the form of a problem to be solved. For example:
"How do we profitably leverage our existing customers to increase sales on the variety of products and services currently available?"
Next, the organization must find creative solutions to solving the Key Strategic Issues. These ideas are then narrowed down to a manageable list of specific short-term goals. To illustrate, these solutions might address the Key Strategic Issue example used above:
- Create and utilize a company-wide database of customers.
- Provide sales training to emphasize cross selling opportunities & products.
- Restructure employee compensation to promote cross selling.
- Combine or bundle products/services based on customer demand.
- Increase marketing efforts and expenditures.
Finally, the organization must agree on where to focus its limited resources (remember, people are the major resource of a service firm). While number 2 above is a relatively easy task, number 1 might require a large investment in hardware and software. Number 3 may not be feasible because of political or territorial reasons. Any one of these ideas, when implemented, might create the same forward movement towards achieving the "vision" of the firm. They are the tactical projects needed to reach a strategic goal.
Of course, these projects consist of numerous tasks. It is at this individual task level where the sheer volume can cause the process to break down or grind to a halt. Many times too much of a firm's strategic resources (such as management talent and time) are spent on managing these tactical tasks. When this happens, the organization usually becomes reactive and implements scattered tasks to solve strategic problems. One easily recognized symptom is the repeated cry of "lack of focus" heard from the rank and file. At this point, the vision has been lost and needs to be recovered.
When viewed in summary, the Strategic Management structure becomes more clear:
- VISION: To be the premiere provider of financial services within our target market.
- KEY STRATEGIC ISSUES: "How do we leverage our existing customers to increase sales on the variety of products and services currently available?"
- PROJECT: Restructure employee compensation to promote cross selling.
- TASKS: Brainstorm and collect potential ideas
Draft a prototype compensation program
Obtain employee feedback
Create rollout material for employees
etc., etc., etc.. . .
Develop a Common Language of Strategic Management
Many times daily business routines are overlooked when a company searches for a vision. However, any team must agree on ground rules and procedures to ensure its success. HOW a team works together (or not) is just as important as WHAT the team works on. Most good teams can handle an very broad range of challenges regardless of topic. In short, good group decision making, problem solving and delegation skills are vital to the implementation of any and all strategic tasks.
When an organization operates using too many formats, forums, and media, the messages may get lost, overlooked, or confused. In order for a team to move forward, all individuals must understand their responsibilities and the expectations of the team. Streamlining and standardizing the mundane operating practices such as meetings, e-mails, and memos can remove much of the confusion about HOW things are to be accomplished. Simplifying the routine processes allows the individual team members to focus and work on the important issues.
It is extremely important that each organization take stock of HOW it operates before embarking on a lengthy Strategic Management project. Without a common language, communications become endangered, and with poor communications, the vision itself may be in jeopardy.