People - Top Tips - Creating vision and strategy

Creating vision and strategy

 

This document is designed as a quick reference guide to creating vision and strategy.

This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process.

This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.

 

Introduction

A vision and strategy will define how you can get from where you are now to where you want to be. Think of a time line: you need some form of vision to provide the destination. Then, working from today, you’ll need to make changes and do some things differently along the time line to achieve the vision. All that takes place in a dynamic environment, where you maximise the strengths of the organisation and its partners, and respond to changes and issues that impact on how you achieve the vision.

People - Top Tips - Creating vision and strategy

Step by Step

Step by step

So how do you go about it? There is no single ‘right’ way, but let me suggest the following steps:

 

1.   Key issues – what will be important in shaping the future? Identify those issues that could influence the future and the strategy process. This will highlight things you don’t yet know much about. You must also recognise that there are things you don’t know you don’t know about – learning about future options, contingency planning and risk management begins here.

 

1.   Consider possible impacts – how might these issues affect us? Understand these issues, and try to gauge their importance and certainty. The idea is not to predict the future – rather, to paint a backdrop within which you can test strategy options and thinking. If you work with other organisations, there’s a challenge here as they may have different views.

 

1.   Agree a vision – where do we want to be in 10 years? You can use a number of tools to develop the vision, from workshops to a full scenario planning process. Rather than looking at rolling out today, you and your partners should look ‘over the horizon’ and think how you can maximise outcomes and resources through working together.

 

1.   Define your current position – where are you now? Much of this is available in existing data and information. Run this in parallel with developing your vision. Your aim is to contrast the current position with the ‘possible’, ensuring your aspirations do not slide into unachievable fantasy. A vision is a genuine advance from the current position, and pathways for strategy developments will begin to emerge.

 

1.   Develop key themes, objectives and strategies – how do you get there? By this stage you will have a start point and a destination. Now you can look at the journey along the time line, providing scope for a forward-looking and creative approach. This is where we introduce creativity into the thinking process, to ‘craft’ strategies and break the mould that’s used today. A balanced scorecard can be used here to get the right mix between measuring the success of the strategy, and achieving change.

 

1.   Planning and implementation – what must we do? This is where the strategy and you and your partners’ planning processes link up. The same happens within your organisation, so planning and implementation cascades down to the front line. Implementation will need project managing to ensure outcomes are achieved and the process is not merely an end in itself.

Implementation is also not cast in concrete. You may need to take corrective action, or follow a different path because of changed circumstances.

All this is not rocket science. Common sense yes, but when your nose is to the grindstone it’s sometimes difficult to take a step back and think strategy or do the ‘vision thing’. But without them, there’s a much smaller chance that change can be achieved and sustained.

 

People - Top Tips - Creating vision and strategy

The transformation map

One example of the expanding array of market-driven strategic tools is Transformation Mapping.

A Transformation Map is a simple but powerful framework for charting the future direction of a company. It integrates disparate functional and business unit initiatives into a unified framework. The map provides management with a dynamic overview of the entire business in terms of what must change, how it must change, and when it must change.

The benefits of transformation mapping are twofold. First, it provides a tangible “roadmap” to guide the corporation as it changes. Farsighted companies use the map as a primary communication vehicle to ensure every employee understands the company’s path forward. Second, transformation mapping provides project teams with the opportunity to work intimately to develop a shared vision of the future, a vision in which each function is a significant contributor. From this perspective, transformation mapping is an ideal precursor to strategic or organisational change.

The first step in building a transformation map is to identify the key areas that focus on becoming or remaining competitive. The initial selection process may use conventional measures and functional criteria or more sophisticated techniques such as balanced scorecard. Either way, each component is visualised as a linear path connecting the “As-Is” or current situation over time to the “To-Be” or the end result desired. Using this approach, management develops the high level tactics necessary to transform the organisation. By combining the individual functional areas or scorecard components into a single map, management has a robust tool to use in developing, implementing, and monitoring a master change program. Current and planned initiatives are plotted against the map to identify potential strengths, opportunities, and gaps, as well as duplicated or unproductive activities.

After developing an enterprise-wide map, the same technique is used within each functional area to map out action steps and activities. However, the technique is quite flexible.

 People - Top Tips - Creating vision and strategy

Transformation mapping

Transformation mapping can be adapted easily to suit the needs of multiple perspectives. For example, one might construct two transformation maps.

The first would be based on the company performing activities A, B, and C internally while the second assumes these activities are out-sourced.

Comparison of the maps would provide a ready device for understanding how the internal/external sourcing decision will affect existing strategies, competencies, and resource requirements.

Timeframes for completing a transformational map vary. A high level map focused on key objectives and strategies can be completed by the company’s executive management committee in a single afternoon. A detailed, task oriented map designed to guide a variety of functional managers and supporting consultants through implementation of several inter-related project initiatives (i.e., reengineer financial, manufacturing, and business planning processes in support of SAP installation) might take one to two weeks.

Transformation mapping fosters the ability for project teams to function in a non-threatening, non-competitive manner. From the management’s perspective, transformation mapping provides a concrete and realistic vision for the future that provides a unique means to communicate the company’s strategic vision throughout the organisation. Additionally, the stronger the company’s vision and understanding of what it requires to be competitive, the more likely an enterprise is to select and implement initiatives that provide long-term competitive advantage.