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Strategic Planning Retreat and Implementation Case Study: Corporate
As we do with many corporate clients, this corporate leadership team was looking to develop a strategy which included all parts of the organization, particularly two parts of the organization which had been acquired within the past year. Mergers, acquisitions and re-organizations drive nearly 85% of the Corporate Strategic Planning projects on which we work.
Thanks to their acquisitions, this client's size and bottom line had grown by almost 20%. While the acquired companies had been assimilated, several of the new executives and senior managers who had been selected were not performing particularly well. Meanwhile, though, the senior executives had decided that they wanted these “at risk” executives and managers to participate in the strategic planning process, to assess their capabilities and willingness to participate in a coherent, “merged” strategy. As strategic consultants, we needed to facilitate conversations which would help the senior executives identify overall strategy and help them decide whether these “at risk” executives and managers should continue with the organization.
In this case we needed to ensure that everyone on the senior executive team was in agreement on a workable strategy. We also needed to involve everyone equally in the conversations, to ensure objectivity, to avoid publicly identifying who was “at risk” and to allow senior executives the opportunity to develop their own assessments, later discussed privately, about the “at risk” executives’ and managers’ suitability to continue with the organization.
To accomplish these objectives, we used an eight-step process::
- Interview senior executives – Understand perspectives and strategy suggestions
- Brainstorming – At Retreat, identified all possible strategies
- Narrowing – Everyone reduces the “brainstorm” list to the highest-potential strategies
- Sponsoring – Participants join smaller conversations, to prepare a presentation to the full group about “Why We Should Proceed With X Strategy”
- Presenting – Cases and arguments made
- Selecting – Which “Overall Strategy” and which “Strategy Components” do we choose?
- Action Planning – Participants take responsibility for implementing strategy; before adjourning, milestone identification, reporting and accountability procedures determined
- Implementation (with follow-up support) – Scheduled procedures and steps followed; as their consultants, we provide e-mail and phone reminders, as well as facilitate 6-month and 12-month Progress Report Meetings
Most corporate clients pursue each of these eight steps to some degree, some with greater depth and intensity than others.
Results were as follows:
- The senior executives, having identified 5 “at risk” executives and managers and having heard each participant express themselves, decided that 3 would stay and 2 would be asked to leave.
- The identified Overall Strategy and Strategy Components were implemented, with varying degrees of success. At six months, four of the five divisions were on pace to implement strategic objectives and milestones; the Vice President of the one division which was unsuccessful was replaced. At twelve months, the company was on pace in all five divisions.
- When we re-convened at the 12-month mark, senior executives decided to target another company for acquisition in the coming year, to be absorbed and to adopt the Overall Strategy we had adopted.
- Having successfully acquired the identified target company, the company proceeded on a pace for three years consecutive to consistently achieve and exceed growth targets.