Mistakes: Strategic Planning Don'ts (and Dos)

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Scenario planning is equally important and seems to be a bit of a lost art after a decade of continuous economic growth, according to Rigby. Scenario planning simply means creating plans for reacting to specific possible future events outside the company. Hon Industries does scenario planning for what it calls "game-changing events," but these possible events are the sort of detail companies are unwilling to discuss, for competitive reasons. However, Rigby notes two common events that nearly every company should plan on. One is competitive mergers and alliances: What happens if you’re the industry’s number one, and number two merges with number three? Rigby notes that the first company in this scenario will want to pay particular attention to its CRM plans; the merger of the smaller competitors frequently gives them the ability to combine their separate customer views and "triangulate" to determine which customers are most profitable, for example. Rigby’s other common scenario planning need is for possible supply chain disruption in the post-9/11 world.

At Medtronic, Balagna relies less on scenario planning and more on his organizational model to create an ability to respond quickly to changes of fortune such as mergers or industry upheaval. Balagna’s organizational model includes a global technology council, made up of the IT leaders from each of Medtronic’s business units around the world. The council meets roughly every two months to review the appropriateness of the company’s ongoing strategy, make adjustments if necessary and also make sure current projects are being executed as planned. Balagna can also call emergency meetings if necessary. Balagna says that plans can’t be changed instantaneously, "but we can reprioritize very quickly with this model," he says. The global makeup of the group also helps keep changes in the right perspective.

It’s hard to foresee every contingency in an unstable world. But by avoiding these common mistakes, building a well-balanced plan and using it to guide the IT group’s execution, CIOs will be ready to take on whatever disruptions the future brings.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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