True North – Where is your compass pointing?

In Steven R. Covey’s Book, the Seven Habits of Highly Successful people, the author writes that aligning one’s self with True North principles, meaning identifying with our own moral compass, are essential for all of the other habits in his book to work and have meaning.  Written in an era where many companies lost their core values in a time of rapid economic growth, it was not surprising that the world of corporate strategy began to wrestle with the concept of a company’s mission and values in light of True North principles.

Senior executives, looking to regain the moral footing that made their companies great during the industrial revolution responded by defining their values and trying to tie the results of business operations back to these values.  As the 90’s brought new information technologies to measure EVERYTHING in a company and display it neatly on a balanced scorecard so executives can see their business through red-yellow and green traffic lights and speedometer dials, these same executives became enslaved to the data that took almost a full year to collate, cleanse, and report into the “annual corporate strategy document.”

Despite the technological advances made in the 10-15 years hence, many companies still deliberate annually as if anything more frequent or more flexible would threaten the core values of the company.  Kept in proper perspective, a company’s core values will remain constant, and will be the touchstone by which its strategy is measured.  With this perspective in place, why then, do many companies keep strategy so disconnected from the fluid reality of tactical operations?

For some, the answer is cultural. It’s the way we’ve done it for the past xx years.  For others, it’s structural.  The strategic planning committee meets yearly, and the business units “roll-up” their numbers every October so that the strategic plan can be rolled out next February, or later. Whatever the reason, this calendar-driven culture of strategic planning fails to take into account the dynamic inputs that come from the results of day to day tactical operations.

If properly connected, tactical business systems should provide inputs to strategy so that the strategy can be adjusted to take advantage of market opportunity, respond to competition, or seize critical capabilities when available.  This represents a paradigm shift from calendar-driven planning to event-driven planning, and requires systems and capabilities to make these connections strong and viable.  In this month’s newsletter, “Alignment: Where Leadership and Management meet“, we show how this event-driven planning can make our companies more competitive.

Please comment on this blog if you have some real-life stories of how companies have made this shift to more dynamic connections between strategy and operations.

Attend this month’s webinar on Tuesday, August 31st where we will explore how to connect strategy to our business development operation, to get more out of our licensing activity and contribute to our corporate goals.

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