Updating your plan? Consider improving resilience as well

Updating your plan? Consider improving resilience as well

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This is a guest post from 440park Strategy Management
(Member since 2020)


Mark Fraser
Principal at 440park Strategy Management

The beginning of the calendar year brings award season to Halifax. On the surface, this year is no different from any other: Look at these fantastic organizations and individuals that sit at the top of the heap.

The 2020 LA Dodgers and LA Lakers had a good year too, but it is likely that their awards will carry an asterisk* into the future – thanks to shortened seasons and modified playoff schedules.

The 2021 Halifax Business Award finalists this year should get one too – but not because the global pandemic changed how they were scored in a modified season. They should be celebrated for their ability to, in the face of a novel crisis, prevail.

These organizations used resilience as a competitive differentiator, doing more than just staying open during a global pandemic but thriving in spite of it.

Organizational resilience doesn’t get a lot of airtime. On many occasions, teams that have shown that they can “quickly adapt” to meet an unplanned set of circumstances often do so through simple brute force: Very high quality people are being asked to go above and beyond.

This can work, but not reliably over time. Most committed employees have no issue digging in to get through a difficult time.

This past spring revealed exactly how quickly independent retailers *could* set up an e-commerce site, or how offices that *needed you there* could suddenly operate with new technology in a completely different way. But when these moments – crucible moments, as leadership great Bill George puts it –come one right after the other, something other than a capable team using brute force is required.

So why not plan for it?

The challenge is that typical strategic planning does not enable organizational resilience as much as it should. Typical strategic planning starts and stops, is owned by a boss, has steps that require hand-off and is generally opaque to the larger organization: Only senior managers get to see the finished product. Strategy management, on the other hand, is continuous, is owned by a team, is part of a smooth cycle and comes with full transparency: The entire company understands strategy.

I admit that saying strategy management is better than typical strategic planning is a bit nuanced. But when teams organize to formulate, visualize, measure and deploy strategy using management frameworks, the results deliver both high performance and organizational resilience.

Typical strategic planning has high adoption (90 per cent of companies have strategic plans) but is not effective (89 per cent of companies’ plans fail to achieve profitable growth). Strategy management frameworks, on the other hand, have been shown to be two to three times more likely to succeed.

I advocate for the Kaplan/Norton Strategy Management Framework. This is a comprehensive framework. When used properly, it will enable the continuous management of strategy over time, allowing organizations to be much more adept at making changes more easily (at both micro and macro levels) in a shorter time frame and with a greater chance of success.

If you have not heard of these gentlemen, I would not be surprised. But you may have heard of their tools. They invented the Balanced Scorecard, a tool that sits in the middle of their comprehensive framework. If you already use that type of a scorecard, you are already familiar with aspects of the larger framework. If not, I strongly suggest you give it a look.

And as we look at our award winners, consider that these organizations were not lucky, not in the right place at the right time, or didn’t happen to have a good year. They were built for this, with resilience at the core of their business. They may say they were surprised, but my guess is that they were not. They planned for it.

Mark Fraser is Principal at 440park Strategy Management, an independent advisory group, and is a past Chair of the Board of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. Mark helps companies, locally and globally, connect strategy and execution to drive better performance.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

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