The development of action plans is a process of putting the wheels on a strategic plan. Action plan development is crucial to implementation success as it outlines an overarching and a detailed map for achieving the goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan. It is important for action plans to be comprehensive, providing both a macro and a micro approach. For example, action plans should address resource allocation, goal setting and the performance measures to determine if goals and objectives are being met -- in both formative and summative manner -- and the interlocking functions of operations, finances, marketing, and sales.
Turning Great Strategy into Great Performance
Companies that are looking for a roadmap to help them achieve their strategic performance benchmarks and move their business beyond the quality levels described in their strategic plans would do well to adhere to the seven rules outlined in this article. A key point of the article is that companies that are not able to follow these guidelines are likely to fall into the category of those firms that only deliver their financial value at about 63% of what is possible. The seven rules include: 1) Keep it simple, 2) challenge assumptions, 3) speak the same language, 4) discuss resource deployments early, 5) identify priorities, 6) continuously monitor performance, and 7) develop execution ability.
Transforming Corner-Office Strategy into Frontline Action
The guidelines provided in this article are reminiscent of the development of a logline to the creation of a screenplay for a movie. Strategic direction can be communicated to employees through the oft-repeated, visible use of a pithy and memorable strategic vision. By utilizing this strategic principle, employees are better able to function with flexibility, risk-taking, and empowerment -- all attributes of an agile organization. The four primary attributes of this strategic principle are as follows: 1) Trade-offs are intentionally forced between competing resources; 2) Linking the strategic insights of leaders with the pragmatic sense of line operators enables a test of strategic soundness of business decisions; 3) Employees can operate and experiment within set boundaries; and 4) Strategy can be simply and effectively communicated.
Bowman's Strategy Clock / Bowman's Strategy Clock with Strategic Options
This model for strategic planning and analysis provides a different take on the Porter's Five by emphasizing price and perceived value. A key strength of this model is that it graphically illustrates the concept of a value proposition. Differentiation is based in the mind of the customer, which means that the important variables that influence consumer purchase decisions reside -- in part -- in the mind of the consumer. To choose one product or service or brand over the competition, the consumer must perceive the benefits and advantages of that choice. Customer-centric intangibles, such as status through association with a brand or fit with a particular preferred or aspirational lifestyle -- play a role in purchase decisions and choices. By adding the explanations for the eight strategic approaches that are available to organizations, a company is better able to see where their business and industry fits on the model. Clearly, for some businesses, a low price-low value strategy can work effectively. However, other businesses would quickly lose market share and fail under those conditions, and they must plot a course that takes the company into the upper left or upper right quadrants.
Proctor & Gamble's Gamble on Values-Based Strategy
Proctor & Gamble (P&G) is hands-down the largest consumer products company in the world. In the wake of the fiscal crisis of 2008, many companies are emphasizing operational ethics as a strategy to win back consumer confidence and trust -- Proctor & Gamble is one of those companies. In a stunning strategic move, P&G seeks to jump-start growth through imparting a sense of purpose and a focus on values throughout the enterprise.
Proctor and Gamble has invested heavily in real-time big data analytics that enable the company to continuously tap into consumer sentiments and a dashboard of performance metrics. The command control system relies on a steady stream of P&G-based consumer activity and meaningful conversations with customers. In order for the P&G agile data-centric strategy to be effective, consumer sentiment must be central to strategic and tactical decision-making. P&G's segue to positive consumer sentiment has been their strategy for differentiation without price premium.
Proctor & Gamble has a strong game plan for turning great strategy into great performance and for transforming corner-office strategy into frontline action. Essentially, P&G has moved the corner office to a type of war room with cockpit-style metric dashboards on their computers and monitors that line the upper reaches of the walls in the room. Employees are empowered to design their own dashboards and to establish the metrics tolerances for business aspects for which they have oversight. In a fascinating adaptation, the dashboards sound digital alarms when the tolerance band is exceeded either up or down. Data managers respond immediately to these real-time to alarms and quickly click down to the core of a performance problem. This enables employees to understand the drivers of the problem and figure out ways respond to problems. These real-time operations are viewed as a distinct strategic competitive advantage.
In order to stay on top of the real-time data that is flowing in, McDonald himself can see the customer comments about the Proctor & Gamble brand. When shifts do take place in the marketplace, the data managers react on real-time. The goal is to be sufficiently on top of the consumer data that there is constant capacity to prevent anything from spinning out of control. In addition to this preventative orientation to consumer data, the consumer pulse data enables Proctor & Gamble employees to figure out how to improve on the components of programs that are working well.
P&G outspends their competition in Research and Development. P&G's heavy investments in innovation have resulted in increased market share. In addition, P&G has been steadily targeting emerging markets that show strong growth potential. The capacity that differentiation promises for increased ROI is astonishing. P&G clearly understands the importance of implementation -- of turning great strategy into great performance. With the right products at the right price, P&G could ostensibly increase the average consumer spend from $14 per year to $16 per year over a five-year period for a majority of its 7 billion customers. According to CEO Bob McDonald:
"We will provide branded products of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world's consumers, now and for generations to come. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit and value creations, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper" (Kanter, 2009).
Proctor & Gamble's business evolution in several emerging markets is a good demonstration of how Bowman's Strategy Clock model can be employed. P&G's global premium products were not a match for consumers in several markets, for instance, Brazil and India. Within the parameters of Option Two (Low price, added value), P&G learned that barbers in India were saving operations expenses by breaking in two the double-sided razor blades for repeated use (Kanter, 2009). The team responsible for razor blade R&D simplified the product to meet the needs of the Indian barbers and reduced costs through innovations in manufacturing (Kanter, 2009). In Brazil, P&G put into play the same Option Two (Low price, added value) by addressing the loss of market share from a mismatch between the premium priced products and the growing low-income market segment (Kanter, 2009). The P&G team conducted in situ market research, living with families to better design the basico (essential) products to improve their lives (Kanter, 2009). The demand for the newly designed product quickly outpaced the…