Strategic Plan: Is it Your Competitive Advantage?

“This is the year our strategic plan is going to give our Company that elusive competitive advantage essential to financial performance.” Have you heard this before?

Do you believe it?

Last year, a newly promoted COO was thrilled to share her strategic focus for the company with me. We were in one of her restaurants and she was holding a laminated, letter sized document retrieved by the unit manager from his office. There were 8 operational imperatives, all equally important, that would give the company the competitive advantage they sought. Tracking progress included an enormous amount of data, analysis and a lot of administrative time spent by the manager.

The manager was less enthusiastic than his boss. Frankly, he seemed overwhelmed.

Creating a winning strategic plan is a struggle for most companies. Many default to creating a plan around operational initiatives or industry best practices – sometimes encased in pages of data and analysis. That’s what happened here.

In “Have you tested your strategy lately?” in the January, 2011 McKinsey Quarterly, the authors reported on a set of tests they developed to assess the strength of strategic plans.

  • Test 1 – “Competitive advantage is the essential ingredient of any strategy” they reported.
  • Test 9 – Is there conviction to act on your strategy? The authors report that many good strategies fall short in implementation because of an absence of conviction. “One or two non believers can strangle strategic change at birth.”
  • Test 10 – Have you translated your strategy into an action plan? “…it’s imperative to define clearly what you are moving from and where you are moving to with respect to your company’s business model, organization, and capabilities.”

As I think about the COO, her plan was too far-reaching and lacked her team’s buy-in.  By investing time to make sure the plan was focused, attainable and had employee support, this could be the year her strategic plan drove financial performance.

Debra Koenig, President, Power of 3 Solutions

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One response to “Strategic Plan: Is it Your Competitive Advantage?

  1. Pingback: Career Opportunity: Chief Operating Officer, Peer Health Exchange « Executive Leadership, LLC. – Executive Career Opportunities

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