A SVP in a large Sillicon Valley company said to me a few years after completion of a scenario-based consulting project, "yours is the only consulting project I've seen that stuck on the wall here," by which he meant, of course, that our work had real and positive consequences for the Company. Why?
Scenario planning and strategy setting is not enough. It's cool, it's fun, everyone feels good at the end. Everyone who is open to doing so learns something. Some of the learning is even important to the Company.
Here are some of the requisites for effective implementation:
- There absolutely positively has to be high level executive sponsorship and commitment. Usually this means the CEO. But this may mean the head of of a functional unit such as IT. Or it may mean the general manager of a business unit.
- The whole management team has to be involved. Don't leave the IT, financial, human resources, and legal people out. They will have to be part of the implementation. The sooner they know what's what the better. And they usually make good contributions to strategy decisions.
- Have a presentation that summarizes the results of the strategy setting project and share that presentation internally as widely as makes good common sense.
- Written narrative documents are expensive to produce and become obsolete quickly. One exception is in IT and similar areas where the result is consensus on the internal IT architecture, including standards, best practices, and currently preferred vendors and products.
- At least monthly, Management Team meetings should have a spot for receiving and assessing War Room feedback on the strategy and key Events.
- Actively look for signs that the strategy is working as planned.
- More importantly, actively seek disconfirming information. Knowledgeable outsiders can be particularly helpful here. Most importantly, don't shoot the messenger.
- In addition to Events, make sure that the strategy has been defined in terms of the key metrics used to run the business. Which numbers are important indicators of success? Order backlog? Call center utilization? Returned merchandise?