In most companies, strategic planning isn’t about making decisions. It’s about documenting choices that have already been made, often haphazardly. Leading ﬁrms are rethinking their approach to strategy development so they can make more, better, and faster decisions.
STOP MAKING PLANS
by Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele
S STRATEGIC PLANNING COMPLETELY USELESS? That was the
question the CEO of a global manufacturer recently asked
himself. Two years earlier, he had launched an ambitious
overhaul of the company’s planning process. The old approach, which required business-unit heads to make regular presentations to the ﬁrm’s executive committee, had broken down entirely. The ExCom members – the CEO, COO, CFO,
CTO, and head of HR – had grown tired of sitting through
endless PowerPoint presentations that provided them few
opportunities to challenge the business units’ assumptions or inﬂuence their strategies. And the unit heads had complained that the ExCom reviews were long on exhortation but short on executable advice. Worse, the reviews led to
very few worthwhile decisions.
harvard business review
YEL MAG CYAN BLACK
The revamped process incorporated state-of-the-art
thinking about strategic planning. To avoid information
overload, it limited each business to 15 “high-impact” exhibits describing the unit’s strategy. To ensure thoughtful discussions, it required that all presentations and supporting materials be distributed to the ExCom at least a week in advance. The review sessions themselves were restructured to allow ample time for give-and-take between the corporate team and the business-unit executives. And
rather than force the unit heads to traipse off to headquarters for meetings, the ExCom agreed to spend an unprecedented six weeks each spring visiting all 22 units for daylong sessions. The intent was to make the...