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Strategic Planning: Dead Zone. Long Live Adaptive Planning

Consider these two words: strategic plan. Free your mind for a second, close your eyes and focus on the word strategic plan. Yes, you are not the only one who is thinking about a thick binder, gathering dust on an organized shelf full of other colorful binders.
We believe strategic planning has been approached by the C level as such in the business world of the previous millennium. At the time companies thought running business was similar to entering a battlefield supported by military-like strategy.
The bases of such approach are to be found on a few certainties, or better said constants:
  • The past was to teach the future
  • Good data was sparse and hard to collect dense.
  • Communication was generally unreliable, certainly discrete and private
So close your eyes again and allow us to draw your picture this time: imagine a CFO and his finance team tracking company’s financials at month end against a projection of last year’s actual forward, which took 3 months to come up based on a modified rate of 0.5%.
Let’s time warp to present state: a completely different shine glows on us from the same horizon. High tech is ruling and the globalization effect has saturated our lives. It’s done. Now we are moving on.
  • We are starting new
  • Data is available everywhere and it’s much more real time than before
  • Communication is instant, public and diverse
The world has become a more turbulent place, where anyone with a new idea can put it into action before you can say “startup” and launch widespread movements with a single Tweet. This has left organizational leaders with a real problem, since the trusted, traditional approach to strategic planning is based on assumptions that no longer hold. The static strategic plan is dead.
Agility now prevails and we believe that a strategic plan adapts, directs, emphasizes learning and control. An adaptive strategy leading to an adaptive planning.
Set the dot, one man said once. Now do everything to get there, realizing that there are so many options to reach that destination and that the destination itself may shift based on what we learn along the way.
Our previous fictional CFO is no longer projecting the past to the future but he’s experimenting, rapid prototyping, learning quickly what works or not. Our CFO is not collecting data on the more-the-better basis but he’s recognizing patterns based on a small fraction of historical data and close to real time information. Our CFO understands that whatever he realizes looking at a dashboard is already too late to action upon if he needs to launch a corrective action, rather he understands that delegating authority, spreading information to front lines, using the whole company as his team is the way to success.
A continuous and fluid loop across the activities of observing, orienting, deciding and acting. Have you heard the expression “plans are useless but planning is everything”? At Top Dimension, specialized in the broader performance management discipline, we love it because we believe it to be so true. And we live by it in all our assignments: a perfect measure of our qualitative approach is derived by how much we manage to increase the fluidness of our customer’s planning process.
We consider the following:
  1. It’s not about delivering a sustainable and solid solution, but also how lower the cost of ownership of the planning process is compared to the previous situation.
  2. It’s not only about the complexity of an automatic solution, but how much quicker the results are visible across your organization compared to the previous situation.
Top Dimension has and keeps working hard to enable its customers to adopt the adaptive planning concept as a necessary mean to move into the future.
Feel how valued our contribution is by reading some of our customer successes here.
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