Albu On Strategy

It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle

It may now be passé to mention, but I was a fan of the Atkins Diet at its peak: the diet helped me lose 15 pounds!  The key to my success was my commitment to adjust my lifestyle once the pounds were off.  I maintained my target weight by transforming my lifestyle to the Atkins lifestyle.

In the same way, business leaders need to think long term about strategic planning. CEOs sometimes view the strategy process as a once a year event, or worse, a once every few years exercise. But this approach is a recipe for failure. Initially, as the plan is developed and launched, there may be excitement and buy in by the senior management team. But as time goes by, day to day business can eclipse strategic decisions. Even if a company has an initial commitment to a strategic direction, without constant reinforcement, it runs the risk of returning to old habits. 

Strategic thinking and planning is a continuous process that needs to become an integral part of an organization’s day to day decision making. Constant and consistent reviews are recommended,  

(1) monthly, to check in on the status of initiatives

(2) quarterly, to challenge assumptions, question answers, and address developing customer, competitor and consumer issues and opportunities.

This kind of vigilance requires a “lifestyle” change that will align strategy to action and ensure excellence in executing the plan.

A recent McKinsey survey determined that “most companies have a formal strategic planning process, but don’t use it to make their most important decisions.” In my opinion, this is the result of managers failing to build the planning process into the fabric of management’s daily decision making processes.

In Albu Consulting’s experience with management teams, the most successful organizations connect strategic thinking, the strategy plan and the operating plan. The diagram below illustrates how the of returning to old habits. 

DIAGRAM

Strategic planning is not a one time annual event, but rather is the result of building strategy into everyone’s day-to- day operating decisions. It’s a “lifestyle” change. 


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