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Traditional process for strategic planning

Strategy making in the past and today – Part 1: The traditional strategy process

Management theory and practice widely accept today that businesses operate in a more and more complex, dynamic, less predictable environment. This situation requires managers to develop new ways of thinking and acting. Nevertheless, many managers still follow the old approach of strategic positioning and strategic planning. This basic model proved to be very worthwhile for decades and has become the dominant pattern of strategic thinking. However, the dynamic developments in recent years taught many businesses that this approach has its limits.

Starting with a description and critique of traditional strategic planning, this series of articles compares traditional and new approaches in strategic management. [Read More…]

strategy is change

Strategy and change – natural order or chicken-and-egg problem?

At the first glance, it is common sense: at first, a strategy is developed. Then, change is necessary in order to implement that strategy. The logic of this order is striking, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, life is not as simple as we would prefer. It would be shortsighted to see change only as a means of implementing strategy. There are many other facets in the interrelationship of strategy and change. [Read More…]

Types of cultural integration in a merger

Corporate culture – Do not underestimate its impact on merger success

It is widely recognized that cultural differences between the partners of a merger are one of the most common reasons for failure in mergers. This may happen during pre-merger negotiations or during post-merger integration. Despite all Due Diligence, the two partners of a merger fail to form a new successful unit that is able to exploit all synergies.

Often, the term ‘corporate culture’ is used to describe issues like objectives, personal interests, behaviors etc. Many problems in cooperation and teamwork are blamed to culture. However, in a merger, ‘culture’ is more than making the people from both partners work together smoothly. The development of a new, shared culture is a critical factor for merger success. It is possible to manage this process in a structured way. [Read More…]

Jean-Claude Saade, brand and communication strategist

The Differentiation Challenge

This is a guest article from Jean-Claude Saade:

On any given morning, if we open a newspaper it will be full of advertisements, messages and offers. At 10:00 am, let us try to remember the ads we have seen a couple of hours ago. We might remember something, only sometimes, but most of the time we cannot. We are facing the terrifying lack of differentiation that is inundating the market. Is the lack of differentiation an Agency challenge or a Client challenge? [Read More…]

Al Ries might be dangerous to your brand

In the business world’s hall of fame a special place is reserved for Al Ries. He is without any doubt one of the most prominent gurus of strategic thinking. More than 30 years ago, together with his partner Jack Trout, Ries coined the term “Positioning” – a concept which, to these very days, shapes the way of marketing and branding all over the world. Only very few other concepts come close in importance.

Despite the rebellious-revolutionary spirit and the surefooted even vain phrasings which characterized them from the very start of their careers, Ries & Trout did not always grasp in full the magnitude of the revolutions they initiated.

This is a guest article from Dan Herman, PhD: [Read More…]

Preparationa and follow-up as prerequisites for successful strategic planning meetings

How do you get the most out of your strategic planning meeting? Practical advice for preparation and follow-up

Strategic planning meetings are a very controversial thing. They have a bit of a reputation to be just another fancy management trend. I have to admit that I, too, have my doubts if all of these meetings are worth the efforts. My experience tells me that there is much truth in Brian Quinn’s famous quote:

“A good deal of corporate planning … is like a ritual rain dance. It has no effect on the weather that follows, but those who engage in it think it does. … Moreover, much of the advice related to corporate planning is directed at improving the dancing, not the weather.”

Nevertheless, good preparation and follow up can improve chances that the strategy meeting becomes a success which everybody is willing to repeat after a year or two. I was involved in the organization of several strategy meetings for two completely different firms. Here is some practical advice that builds on this experience. [Read More…]

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Strategies of trajectory start with a view of the future and work back to actions in the present.

The big shift in strategy

The last decades have brought a dramatic change in the external environment for almost every business. What has been a fairly stable and predictable landscape for a very long time has become a mix of dynamic, ever-changing and unpredictable forces. It is almost common sense now that the traditional approach to strategy, which builds on a more stable environment, needs an update. However, many businesses are still struggling to replace their strategy process of internal and external analysis with something more suitable. I guess this is partly due to the fact that there aren’t many workable approaches around.

The Articles The big shift in strategy part 1 and part 2 from John Hagel III may provide a solution. [Read More…]

Leading strategic initiatives under uncertainty

At first glance, this seems to be an article about uncertainty and how to handle it in the context of strategy. However, it actually is about governing strategic initiatives. The key question is:

What is the best way to move from a company strategy to … a stream of initiatives that will deliver it?

The secondary objective would be to improve the success rate of strategic initiatives, which often have a high failure rate. Uncertainty is just the one and most important condition under which such initiatives are carried out. [Read More…]

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