Mr Provett is a Certified Learning Provider (CLP) at Appleton Greene and he has experience in management, marketing and human resources. He has achieved an MBA in Business and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He has industry experience within the following sectors: Automotive; Electronics; Manufacturing; Technology and Telecommunications. He has had commercial experience within the following countries: United States of America, or more specifically within the following cities: Detroit MI; New York NY; Austin TX; San Francisco CA and Raleigh NC. His personal achievements include: Prepared Next Generation of Leaders; Reorganized Companies For Growth; Transformation Small To Large Mindset; Smooth Transition Of Family Ownership/Governance and Improved Family Intergenerational Relationships. His service skills incorporate: strategic planning; process improvement; succession planning; estate management and operation management.
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Appleton Greene corporate training programs are all process-driven. They are used as vehicles to implement tangible business processes within clients’ organizations, together with training, support and facilitation during the use of these processes. Corporate training programs are therefore implemented over a sustainable period of time, that is to say, between 1 year (incorporating 12 monthly workshops), and 4 years (incorporating 48 monthly workshops). Your program information guide will specify how long each program takes to complete. Each monthly workshop takes 6 hours to implement and can be undertaken either on the client’s premises, an Appleton Greene serviced office, or online via the internet. This enables clients to implement each part of their business process, before moving onto the next stage of the program and enables employees to plan their study time around their current work commitments. The result is far greater program benefit, over a more sustainable period of time and a significantly improved return on investment.
Appleton Greene uses standard and bespoke corporate training programs as vessels to transfer business process improvement knowledge into the heart of our clients’ organizations. Each individual program focuses upon the implementation of a specific business process, which enables clients to easily quantify their return on investment. There are hundreds of established Appleton Greene corporate training products now available to clients within customer services, e-business, finance, globalization, human resources, information technology, legal, management, marketing and production. It does not matter whether a client’s employees are located within one office, or an unlimited number of international offices, we can still bring them together to learn and implement specific business processes collectively. Our approach to global localization enables us to provide clients with a truly international service with that all important personal touch. Appleton Greene corporate training programs can be provided virtually or locally and they are all unique in that they individually focus upon a specific business function. All (CLP) programs are implemented over a sustainable period of time, usually between 1-4 years, incorporating 12-48 monthly workshops and professional support is consistently provided during this time by qualified learning providers and where appropriate, by Accredited Consultants.
Planning has been around since early man had to decide to plant crops or move on and collect what nature provided. Strategic planning has been with us for a much shorter time. In the military, strategy and tactics were part of the same plan. Strategy described the overarching objectives and tactics detailed how the strategy would be realized. A strategy could be eliminating your enemies capabilities to supply armament to their troops, while a tactic could be to destroy the transportation network.
Following WW II, strategy and strategic planning were put to the sidelines. The economy was expanding to fulfill the market with consumer demands that had been pent up during the war years. Factories were humming and consumers were buying. Strategy was condensed to get as much as you could to market and business would do well. Factories changed from making planes and tanks to making cars and trucks. Food shortages and rationing were things of the past. Farmers were growing as much as they could and were improving yields year over year.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Strategic Planning became a control tool for the Department of Defense to utilize in trying to control the large contracts that they managed. Strategic plans were, therefore, mainly financial and schedule driven exercises that could span years of design, development, and manufacture of complex military equipment. As a result, Project Management was developed as a controlling function and project management departments were formed in the military support community.
Over time, the industrial community realized that the markets had changed and that they need to react to the normal economic climate. Gone were the days of demand outstripping supply. Now your products and services had to be recognized as valuable. Public companies needed to respond to stockholder desires, and private companies needed to respond to owner desires. And most stockholders and owners wanted to be assured of a bright future for their companies and for themselves. This necessitated a need for future planning, better known as Strategic Planning.
However, this strategic planning quickly became mired in the need for financial budgeting and scheduling. The planning became a look into the future that was all too uncertain. Uncertainty is not what one desires in planning. Many businesses backed away from the strategic part of the planning cycle, giving it lip service at best, and instead focused on the near more certain term. This removes the fear of the unknown from their plans, but also removed the future from them.
Strategic planning is stuck in the past. Most companies still use it as a tool to generate financial information which are only used to monitor actual financial performance. The predictions of future non-financial performance are vague and ill defined. In the case of public companies, they primarily are tied to quarterly performance. For most public companies quarterly results are paramount. Stock prices and executive compensation and livelihood ride on these numbers. With private concerns, financial performance is more personal. Lower profits might translate to lower personal compensation.
Although strategic planning is predicated on establishing future goals and developing strategies to achieve their goals, most companies feel lost when they try to analyze the future. They all have plenty of examples where forecasting has been wrong and resulted in negative outcomes. Sales forecasts are overly optimistic. New product release dates are late. Operational performance is less than promised. All of these lead to missed promises, unhappy customers, and poor financial performance. The future is uncertain. And because it is uncertain, many people tend to ignore it. They will prepare forecasts that are wrong, and they will “update” them as new data makes the errors obvious. They handle the uncertainties of the future by adapting to them as they become more certain. Yet they will not plan strategically because the future is uncertain.
Many companies do try to ascertain the future and model their companies to what they see as that future. But this has been found to be insufficient. Why is this so? There are three reasons: one, the future view is too short sighted; two, the views tend to be more tactical than strategic; and, they do not start with the personal goals of the leadership.
Why are the views so short sighted? The key metric for companies has migrated from producing a great product or service that customers would buy and would come back for more, to pure financial performance. The earnings have become the be all and end all of evaluating a company’s performance. This is the key for all public companies and dictates the price of the company’s shares for public companies. We are witnessing a change in the perception of what makes one company better than another. There are also investors that look at the stock market as a place to make money on buying and selling stock, rather than as an opportunity to invest for the future. The result is that leadership in public companies must live up to short term pressure, or see the stock prices drop, and potentially losing their jobs. This phenomenon is not limited to public companies. Private companies feel the same pressure to increase earnings, at a reduced level. In both cases, this pressure for short term earning, typically one or two quarters, makes long term strategies irrelevant.
A corollary of taking short term views is that planning tends to be short term, or tactical. There is no grand strategy to be a market leader or be number one or two in the industry. The only goal is to increase earnings usually made by increasing revenue, decreasing costs, increasing market share, or selling to new customers. Sales and marketing plans are developed which answer the question, “What will we do this quarter?”. The race to meet or exceed the projections for profit are so great that strategy is often ignored.
Any strategy needs to address the personal goals of leadership. The goals of leadership and the company must be congruent if they are to be successful. After all, if the leadership goals cannot be satisfied with the company’s goals, the company goals will not be realized. The importance of having the same long-term goals is most apparent in private companies. These tend to be smaller than most public companies and the leadership is most often the owner who profits when the company is profitable. However, profits are not the only goal. The owners have other obligations that public leadership normally does not. They have family to care about, now and tomorrow. They have legacies that they wish to establish. There are family members that need to be trained to be future leaders. Fulfilling these obligations is their primary motive for business success once the basic revenue needs to support the family and its lifestyle have been reached. In some cases, they are more important than revenue. For the private company owner, there are legacy issues and how they support their communities. Many private businesses are the largest employer in their area and keeping the business solvent open and employing community residents is of paramount importance.
Public companies are realizing that they also have obligations beyond those to shareholders. They have obligations to various other stakeholders including employees, suppliers, customers, and their communities. In this day shareholder activists promote their views and companies must react to them. The general cry for equality, equal treatment, diversity, and inclusion are beyond the increase earnings goal and companies need to craft strategies that not only ensure the company’s financial success, but also the companies social and community success.
The futures for both private and public companies are similar if not the same. Both have to take a longer and more strategic view if they want to be successful. Planning needs to be more long term with short term tactics supporting the longer-term goals. More and more companies in the public sector are announcing that they will no longer provide quarterly estimates of profitability. They are aligning corporate goals with personal goals, the aim being to bring a better alignment between corporate and personal targets. They are realizing that if they wish to enable their companies to be long lived, they need to look out five to ten years, and then make strategic plans to ensure those targets are met, and develop tactical plans for the nearer term, one to two years.
Similarly, private companies are realizing that their long-term horizon is much longer than the typical private one. Their strategic plans may have to be twenty-five or more years in the future. They have to wait for future generations to mature before they can join the firm and begin to develop into the next generation of leadership. They can expand more slowly than public companies as they do not have shareholders betting on short term stock values.
Both private and public companies are realizing that long term, true strategic planning is necessary, and the industry leaders are beginning to do that.
The following list represents the Key Program Objectives (KPO) for the Appleton Greene Strategic Planning corporate training program.
Strategic Planning – Part 1- Year 1
- Part 1 Month 1 Getting Started – The senior executive or owner is involved in this and the next two modules. In this first module the objective is to bring the senior executive to the point where he or she has an understanding of the Strategic Planning Process and to prepare the executive for the generation of the strategic plan and its implementation. The foundation for a strategic plan is the company’s Mission, Vision and Values. On these three statements lie success or failure. These three statements are a definition of why the company is in business, its mission, what is its view of where it will be and how it will look if the mission is successful, the vision, and the underlying business methods, its values. Therefore, we start with these three statements. If there are no articulated statements, we will develop them. Where they exist, we will examine and dissect them to determine their validity. Many times, these statements have been written with little underlying them but good intentions. The objective of this module is to elucidate the senior executive’s view on the primary guides to business success. These guidelines are normally published and displayed in prominent locations so that all the associates may read them. If they are not what they should be, everyone in the company is either following the wrong lead or ignoring the statements. Both instances are bad for performance and morale. The senior executive or owner’s view on these key statements of company principles is where we begin our journey. In subsequent modules we re-examine them with the next level(s) in the organization, so as to ensure continuity throughout the business.
- Part 1 Month 2 Next Step – The SPP theory begins with the realization that there must be an alignment of personal and business goals to succeed. If they are not aligned one or both will suffer. If personal goals are dominant the business will be less successful than if there was alignment. If business goals are given preference the leadership will experience a personal loss. This loss could be financial, personal, physical or psychological. None of this is acceptable. In the SPP the senior executives will develop their long-term personal goals. Long term will be defined as it differs with business type. For a Fortune 100 company long term might be five years or less. For a private company or a family owned company it could be twenty years or more. The long-term horizons are very different and require different goals to attain. The business’s Missions, Values, and Visions statements must be examined to determine their applicability to the strategic long term. A public company’s statements are probably focused on short term goals and meeting financial expectations. For publicly traded companies the pressure for quarterly results is such that their attainment is top priority. For private companies there are financial goals, but long-term sustainability might be of first consideration. Once the executive has articulated their long-term goals and their long-term horizon, and the mission, vision and values of the company have been examined, the executive’s personal goals can be detailed. The present company goals can then be examined to determine how they fit with the personal goals. There is seldom congruence between the personal and company goals and in this case, the deficiencies can be seen. This can be a particularly trying time for the executive who has worked hard for company success. In most cases the personal goals will not be met with current company objectives and it is the executive’s job to ensure that they do. With all the short-term pressure applied to senior executives, it is not easy to strike a strategy that is long term and is aimed at attaining goals that meet both business and personal targets .
- Part 1 Month 3 Formalize Goals – In this module we formalize the senior executives personal goals and examine the alignment with the company’s mission, vision and values. With proper alignment, the personal goals are likely to be achievable. Without the alignment, they are may not be able to be reached. The senior executive will also begin to develop company goals that are supported by and supporting to the executive’s personal goals. Starting with the executives own long term goals, we will build a goal tree that displays how the long-term personal goals and company goals relate to each other. These are the two main branches to the goal tree, company and personal. The branches may be the same length, or they may differ. If the personal goals are longer term than the company’s goals, the interim period goals must be developed. In this case the company is more short term focused and the company’s goals will have to be constructed in steps. These steps can be considered as independent, or as seamlessly transitioning one to the other. We will determine how they progress and construct goals for them in either case. If the company goals are longer term than the personal goals, an analysis of the difference will be conducted in order to determine how best to achieve both goals sets. All cases will be examined and the output from this module will be a formalized statement of the executive’s personal goals. Also, the company goals that result from the executive’s goals will also be formalized.
- Part 1 Month 4 Leadership Teams – The objective of this module and the subsequent two modules, is to introduce the company’s senior management team to the strategic planning process in much the same way as the senior executive was in Modules 1 – 3. As was stated in module one, the foundation of a strategic plan is its Mission, Vision and Values. These three attributes should be the leadership teams first principals. These three statements are a definition of why the company is in business, its mission, what is its view of where it will be and how it will look if the mission is successful, and the underlying business methods. Therefore, we start with these three statements. Just as we did with the senior executive, we will move forward with the leadership team. If there are no articulated statements, we will develop them. Where they exist, we will examine and dissect them to determine their validity. The objective of this module is to elucidate the leaderships team’s view on the primary guides to business success. These guidelines are normally published and displayed in prominent locations, so that all the associates may read them. If they are not what they should be, everyone in the company is either following the wrong lead or ignoring the statements. Both instances are bad for performance and morale. The senior executive or owner’s view on these key statements of company principles is where we begin our journey. In subsequent modules we re-examine them with the next level or levels, so as to ensure continuity through the business.
- Part 1 Month 5 Moving Forward – In this module the leadership team will see that the SPP theory begins with the realization that there must be an alignment of personal and business goals to succeed. If they are not aligned one or both will suffer. If personal goals are dominant, the business will be less successful than if there was alignment. If business goals are given preference the leadership will experience a personal loss. In the SPP the leadership team will develop their long-term personal goals. Long term will be defined, as it differs with the business type. For a Fortune 100 company long term might be five years of less. For a private company or a family owned company it could be twenty years or more. The long-term horizons are very different and require different goals to attain. Once the leadership team has articulated their long-term goals and their long-term horizon, and the mission, vision and values of the company have been examined, the leadership team’s personal goals can be detailed. The present company goals can then be examined to determine how they fit with the personal goals. There is seldom congruence between the personal and company goals and in this case the deficiencies can be seen. With all the short-term pressure applied to senior executives, it is difficult to strike a strategy that is long term and is aimed at attaining goals that meet both business and personal targets.
- Part 1 Month 6 Leadership Goals – At this point the leadership team is prepared to formalize their personal goals and determine if they are aligned with the company’s goals, as the executive did in module 3. As the desired case is for the goals to be aligned, any non-aligned situations required examination. Assuming there are no cases of such serious misalignment as to make for a mutually unachievable situation, we will develop goals that will be more aligned with personal goals or modify the personal goals to more conformity with the company goals. As in module 3, starting with the leadership team’s own long-term goals, we will build a goal tree that displays how the long-term personal goals and company goals relate to each other. These are the two main branches to the goal tree, company and personal. The branches may be the same length, or they may differ. If the personal goals are longer term than the company’s goals, the interim period goals must be developed. In this case the company is more short term focused and the company’s goals will have to be constructed in steps. These steps can be considered as independent, or as seamlessly transitioning on to the other. We will determine how they progress and construct goals for them in either case. If the company goals are longer term than the personal goals, an analysis of the difference will be conducted in order to determine how best to achieve both goals set. All cases will be examined and the output from this module will be a formalized statement of the executive’s personal goals. Also, the company goals that result from the executive’s goals will also be formalized.
- Part 1 Month 7 Goal Consensus – The objective of this module is to share the personal goals of the executive and leadership team, so as to gain transparency and to be able to properly analyze all goals as a part of an executive leadership team grouping. It is very likely that various members of the group will have vastly different personal long-term goals. Depending on family differences, ages, and personal considerations, goals will be formulated to achieve objectives that are not all similar. Younger members of the team may have school age children that they need to support through college. Older members may be concerned with estate planning issues. More junior members are still active in their seeking an upward career path while the more senior members may have already achieved senior levels. Some of the goals will be financial in nature and should be reasonably mutually attainable. Others may be diametrically opposed. If two or more members have as a personal goal to assume the presidency of the company, there is an obvious conflict. In time, these mutually exclusive goals can be resolved and depending on the timing both may be realizable. It is not necessary that the goals be the same, but that they be compatible. If the team can build a consensus on the personal goals of the members, consensus meaning if your goal is not what I would prefer it to be, but I can live with it. In some businesses, especially those that are family owned, building consensus may be trying. However, no matter how trying it may be, a consensus of attainable personal goals is necessary as the company is the fountain head for all financial rewards. If the company cannot fund all of the personal goals the company will not be successful.
- Part 1 Month 8 Company Vision – With personal goals formally articulated, the executive team will address the company’s long-term vision. This vision is a view as to where the company will be in five, ten, twenty-five or more years. Each company will have a different view as to what constitutes long-term. Public companies may think that five or ten years is long term. Others may feel that ten or twenty years is the proper outlook. Some who are dependent on natural resources may think that it is fifty or more years. Some privately owned companies may be more concerned with passing the company on to future generations and their long-term window may be multiple generations. With this module we will determine the definition of long-term first. If there is no consensus, we will pick an end point that is far enough in the future so as to not be pre-determined. This point is normally chosen to be twenty-five years. With the long-term point determined, it is now time to play the long-term personal goals into the company’s performance and predict what that performance needs to be to achieve the multiple goals. Increased revenue is sure to enter the discussion, as is earnings. These numbers will generate a discussion on what facilities are needed to produce the revenue. What resources, people and financial, are necessary to have the facilities necessary? What is the organization structure? How many people are employed? Is our business model robust enough to accomplish what we wish? These and other questions must be answered to see if the desired outcome is achievable. The twenty-five-year vision is the output of this module. The next module examines the nearer term year visions.
- Part 1 Month 9 Vision Continued – The preceding module constructed the twenty-five long-term vision. This module completes our vision journey with construction of twenty, fifteen, ten, and five-year long-term visions. The theory upon which this portion of the strategic plan is built, is that in order to achieve your long-term goals certain accomplishments must be made in the short term. If the company manufactures hard goods and is at capacity, new facilities need to be found and ramped up in order to produce and sell more product. New facilities can take years to be fully productive and if this is the chosen path, it must be initiated with enough time to be operational when needed. The executive team knows full well the nature of expansions and will construct a vision for the interim years at five, ten, fifteen and twenty-year milestones. This is a tedious but necessary process that the team will have to accomplish. In addition, the executive team will have to identify any barriers to achieving the goals. If the company requires very specified skills for its associate force and they are only available in certain areas, this will limit the expansion to other areas. If the general population is presently at a very low unemployment rate and there are for all practical purposes, none to be employed, that must be addressed, and possible expansion assigned to a different geographic area. The company’s credit worthiness can also limit expansion. All of these and all the others mentioned that the executive team acknowledges need to be addressed. If they are not correctable than the vision cannot be achieved. The last item for the executive team in this module is the selection of a strategic planning and implementation team.
- Part 1 Month 10 Strategic Team – This module’s main objective is to select the Strategic Planning Team, SPT, and to give it the blessing of the executive team members. The members of the SPT team will formulate the detail strategic plan for years one to five and the detailed tactical plan for its execution. The executive team will select members who exhibit those characteristics that will produce these plans and execute them. The membership can include executive team members, providing they can work with the other members of the SPT in a cooperative manner. The drafting of the strategic plan is a team task and we cannot allow one member to hijack the process. Detailed plans will be formulated that address the selection and notification of the new SPT members. A list of desirable attributes will be formulated, and the potential candidates compared with this list. Selection can be of high performers, fast track associates, or other promotable members. We will develop the rules for the team including its reporting nature to the executives.
- Part 1 Month 11 Team Meeting – This will be the SPT’s first meeting. They will meet with the executive team and learn what their tasks are. The Strategic Planning process will be presented in detail so that there will be no surprises later. As they will be crafting the strategy for the company for at least the next five years, this is an important assignment and needs to be treated as such. With so much on their shoulders, there needs to be executive support and protection provided. Each has a full-time job, and this has to be considered. The Executive members will address any concerns of the SPT. The team will have the entire process presented and the time that they will have to allocate to team meetings and crafting the strategic plan. Their managers will be informed of the additional assignment and how it will impact their present roles. The managers will be encouraged to give their full support to the strategic plan, and the strategic plan activities. The SPT will report to the executive team for strategic planning. Their plans will be reviewed by the executive team, and no actions taken without their approval. The process to date of the executive team will be reviewed, and the SPT will get their questions answered. Full transparency is important when in a position for the STP members to succeed in. In order for the team to complete a meaningful strategic plan they must have access to everything they need. The objectives of the executives are some of the most important data points to know and understand.
- Part 1 Month 12 Team Targets – The objective of this module is to ensure that the two teams, executive and strategic planning, are aligned and that the planning team knows and understands the leadership goals, targets and timelines for the project. The leadership team will have, in the prior modules, developed their goals for the strategic period. These will be delivered to the planning team and then the two teams will jointly develop the team’s goals. They will also develop interim targets, so as to monitor the teams progress toward the goals. Additionally, they will reach agreement on the timeline for the planning project. This will be especially important on reporting progress to the executive team. The goals that the team receives are their objectives in developing the strategic plan and the subsequent tactical plans for implementation. It is important that the planning team and the executive team be on the same page at all times. The two teams will decide how to communicate from the planning team to the executive team. Meetings between the two teams will be scheduled after each module, so that there is no confusion as to what has been accomplished, what are the next steps, and where in relation to the project timelines the team has progressed. Other meetings can be held between modules if there are issues that require resolution. Following this module, the planning team will be the major developer of the strategic plan and its implementation. The executive team will approve all actions and take the necessary steps to ensure their accomplishment and oversee the planning teams activities.
Strategic Planning – Part 2- Year 2
- Part 2 Month 1 Team Analysis – During the second year of the project, the strategic planning team performs the necessary analysis to determine operating strategies on which the strategic plan is built. The first analysis the team performs is to determine if the mission, vision and values of the company are in line with reality and if they will produce the desired results. Starting with the mission, the statement of why the company is in business, the team begins to decompose the statement to see if it is reality as they know it to be in their daily operation of the business. Many missions are statements that promise everything to everyone. These type statements are not missions. They may be the good intensions of ownership and management, but they ignore the fact that unless the business is a non-profit organization, profits are the mission. Mission statements may use words like financial success, or earnings for associates. But neither of these can be accomplished without profits. Following the dissection of the existing mission, the team reforms the statement into what they observe is the true mission. This new statement will be presented to the executive team for their review, revision, and approval. The team then looks at the vision statement. This statement is the view of the future, if the mission is carried out. Again, the team takes a hard look and ascertains if the vision is attainable or not. If necessary, the team will recast the vision statement and present it to the executive team. Lastly, the team will examine the company values. If they are in line with daily practices they will remain. If not, the team will make recommendations on the operating practices of the company or on the statement of values. Again, the executive team will have final approval on this as well as all outputs of the team.
- Part 2 Month 2 Team Analysis – The objective of this module is for the team to analyze the company’s operations and how it fits into the outside world. To do so, the team will perform a SWOT analysis. This analysis examines the company’s Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as the outside environment and the Opportunities that exist that the company is not taking advantage of presently, and the Threats to the company beyond its direct control. Such items as legislation regulating the industry, or foreign competition, or any number of other actions can be threats. First, the team will look inwards into the company’s psyche. The team will use brainstorming techniques to generate lists of actual company strengths. Similarly, the team will generate lists of weaknesses, either real or perceived. Next, the team will look outside of the company into the environment in which the company operates. They will develop lists of those issues that they perceive as opportunities for the company to be more successful. They can be new business areas, new customers to develop, new channels for distribution, or a score of other areas. Each could present a positive business opportunity. The team will then explore threats to the company. They can be threats to continuing business, threats to the existing customer base, declining financial conditions, a new pandemic, anything beyond the company’s direct control could be a threat. After enumerating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the team will prioritize each group from most likely to the least likely. These analyses will be utilized in formulating the strategic plan.
- Part 2 Month 3 Barriers Analysis – Using the data from the last module, the team will undertake a Barriers Analysis. They ask the question, “if there is an opportunity and you have a strength that could seize it, why have you not done so”. It asks, “If you have a recognized weakness, why haven’t you strengthened it?”. In short, why are you not using your strengths to overcome your weaknesses, or take advantage of opportunities? Asking this question can be troubling, as everyone thinks they are doing all that can be done to improve company performance. Until they ask the question, the realization that there is more to be done than what is the normal method will not be recognized. With recognition and without casting blame, we will look at each of the barriers to better performance. Some may not be attainable in the short term, as they may be financially impossible. Others are limited by the existing band width of the existing personal. However, in the long term, there may be opportunities that can be realized. More likely is that the opportunity was overshadowed by the normal course of business and now that it identified, it can be turned over to those who can make it a profitable apart of the company portfolio. With the barriers to improving weaknesses, to taking more advantage of strengths, to capture new opportunities, and to overcome threats identified, the team’s strategic plan can utilize the data to cast strategies to take advantage of them.
- Part 2 Month 4 Market Analysis – To understand your place in the market you are serving, we do a market analysis. The team will determine just what is the market or markets that the company is serving. They will analyze that market to determine what is the value of the total market, what piece of that market do they serve, are there any other pieces that they do not serve but could, and of their shared market how much is their market share. Having determined their share of the market, they will be able to determine if they have all the share they can expect, or is the market underserved and there is potential share to capture, is there a competitor whose position is weak and capturing the competitors share is possible. We will also examine other markets where the products and services of the company can be sold. With small exception most products can be sold in many markets. Servicing the auto market does not prevent you from entering the boating markets. You are not prohibited from entering consumer markets. Many products and services with a little modification can also serve multiple markets. If there are new markets that you wish to enter, you must understand them before entering and you must have a marketing plan to ensure penetration of the market. Many companies have spent much time and money trying to enter new markets without adequately understanding them or without a plan for how they would market their product. Even markets that you think you understand have nuances that you may not be aware of, which could spell disaster to a new participant. The objective of this module is to ensure that there is an understanding of the markets you are presently in, and those that you may explore for the future.
- Part 2 Month 5 Competitive Analysis – It has been said innumerable times, that you do not understand your market nor your customers if you do not understand your competition. The objective of this module is to ensure that you have analyzed the competition and have a good understanding of them. The first step in analyzing your competition is first recognizing who they are. The team will prepare a list of all known competitors. The list will be supplemented by listing potential of possible competitors. This is very important if you are technology dependent. There was a time when floppy discs were the only portable memory device and their manufacturer held 100% of the market. Somehow, they were blind to their industry and were blindsided when a new, smaller, more compact disc was put on the market. Not to be out done, thumb drives and related devices, not to mention internal memory improvements, relegated many manufactures bankrupt. Even if your business is low tech, it is not immune to new products. For known or potential competitors, the team will develop for each one a comprehensive study of the company consisting of that company’s offering, revenue, markets in which they concentrate, market share, selling proposition, price, service, customer relationships, product features, and the company’s strengths and weaknesses. This data will enable the team, and any others who might be interested, to understand the competitors, and determine if they are able to be overcome or need to co-exist in the marketplace. Based on these finding the strategic plan will be skewed to take advantage of the competition’s innate personality.
- Part 2 Month 6 Perceptions – It is important to know how your customers and your employees truly feel about your company. They may buy your products or services, but they may not like the way you administer your billings, or how your sales teams act, or any number of other attributes. The problem is if they can find another supplier who does not have the negative attributes that your organization may, they will buy from the new vendor, and you will not know why. By summarizing the team’s own personal experiences, or by conducting surveys, if the team’s experiences are not adequate, a great amount of knowledge can be gathered. Therefore, we will conduct both customer and employee “like & dis-like” surveys. The surveys gather data on what customers like or do not like about the company or its products. In a similar way, the employee survey tells what the associates like and do not like about the company, its management and practices and policies. This is soft data in that it is perceptions of what others feel. In some case hard evidence of the perception can be found while in others it cannot. This does not mean that the lack of hard evidence should cause the discarding of the soft data. If a group of associates indicates that a supervisor is treating his people unfairly, but there are no complaints in human resources to substantiate the claim, the claim is false. There are many instances where a supervisor operates independent of what company policies indicate is correct behavior. Similarly, customer complaints should be investigated. If customer complaints are treated as accusations of wrongdoing, customers may just stay quiet and search for new suppliers. Perceptions although not perfect in our logic driven world are still what people believe and therefore reality.
- Part 2 Month 7 Team Analysis – At this time the team has gather a great amount of data and it is now time to bring it all together. This module will re-examine the company’s vision and the timeline that was established with the executive team. The team will validate the vision as it was perceived by the executive team, using the data collected as evidence for its achievement and against it. As the executive team did not have the data that the planning team now has, there may be modifications that the planning team feels are necessary. The issues that are normally developed in this stage have to do with varying views of the market, competition, strengths and weaknesses of the company, and opportunities and threats. The team, based on the data gathered, may feel that the vision is not challenging enough. Or they may feel it is too demanding. Whatever the case, it is up to the team to propose changes to the vision, either content or timing. These changes will be presented to the executive team for their input and eventual approval. There are times when the planning team will not be as confident as to the results as the executives. There will be times when the planning team will be more optimistic than the executives. Both groups have knowledge that the other does not. With the analysis the planning team can see opportunities that the executives have not been privy to. On the other hand, the executives have a better understanding of the financial condition of the company, its debts, its bank covenants, its commitments to owners and other stakeholders. The two teams will share their knowledge and adjust as necessary to their realities.
- Part 2 Month 8 Vision Viability – The executive team has created their vision for the company. It is now up to the planning team to determine the viability of that vision over time. The vision is a long-term vision and the team must bring it into focus for the near term. An examination of the vision’s end points can tell much about its likelihood. A revenue growth that is doubled in twenty-five years is an annual growth rate of less than three percent. A growth in revenue of four times requires an annual growth rate of between ten and fifteen percent. These growth rates may be too small or untenable in the markets that the products are offered. Other vision end points may require more resources than are available locally. This raises the question does the company want to expand outside of its traditional location, or does it wish to remain a locally owned venture. If the vision end points are properly examined these questions can be raised and answered. If the basic company values will not be supported by a vision end point, we have to consider are the values or the vision more important. If the vision is paramount, the plan can be built according to it. If the values are more important, a new vision must be constructed based on the values and the plan based on that new vision. All of the teams recommendations will be presented to the executive team who may approve, amend, or reject the recommendations. Although the planning team has been given the task of preparing the strategic plan, they have not been given the executive’s authority to proceed without approval.
- Part 2 Month 9 More Financials – Following approval for the output of the last module, it is now the planning team’s job to compare this vision to the financial requirements of that vision. The planning team will prepare a future financial analysis, a proforma, for each vision goal and determine if there is sufficient capital to entertain the goal or if additional funds must be generated. This is not a go, no-go analysis. It is an analysis that will highlight the cost of the goal attainment and the funding necessary for that. An increase in revenue will in all likelihood require an investment in more marketing and salespeople. It may require an investment in production resources. I may require an increase in distribution or even opening of new distribution channels. The team will perform this analysis for all of the goals and then rank them in terms of investment required and in return expected. In this way a determination of cost vs. benefit can be made. After completing the financial studies, the team will prepare recommendations for the executive team. The recommendations can be to make no changes in a particular goal as it is feasible financially and no new funds are required. It may be to greatly reduce or eliminate a goal as the cost to achieve it far outweigh the benefits. They may recommend that the goal be increased as the team believes that the benefits are larger than anticipated. The team may make recommendations on timing as they feel that with adjustments to the deliverable calendar, that better performance can be assured. All of the teams’ recommendations will be presented to the executive team who may approve, amend, or reject them. Although the planning team has been given the task of preparing the strategic plan, they have not been given the executive’s authority to proceed without approval.
- Part 2 Month 10 Annual Goals – The team’s assignment is to prepare a plan to reach the five-year vision of the executive team, as well as to undertake any tasks that must be accomplished or initiated during the plan five-year period that will be required to reach a goal beyond the five-year time. The vision that the executive team has formulated is a five-year vision and the planning team must construct vision of the years prior. They will therefore, generate visions for years one, two, three, and four that integrate with the executive five-year vision. Some of the goals will be relatively easy to translate from the five-year metric to intervening years. With some assumptions revenue can be developed using various theories. The straight-line method, from existing to five years in the future is one. The end points are known, and the intervening points can be developed using the straight-line method. A variant on the straight-line method is the constant percent annual increase method. Number of employees is also a god measure. There are many ways to cut this metric. There are direct and indirect labor, hourly and salary, production and support, among others. Each has its use and can be used if applied with a logical method. In times of expansion there are e economies of scale to be realized. This will usually mean that the number of direct workers is less per unit of manufactured then previously experienced. Some support functions are not in one to one ratios with manufacturing. Each has its place and the selection of the proper one is important. For increases in production there are known ratios of employees to output which can be used. The team will use their knowledge and other’s outside of the team to develop these intervening goals.
- Part 2 Month 11 Annual Targets – The team has now developed annual goals that are aligned with the executive’s team five-year goals. The planning team now concentrates on year one and will build a plan for this first year. In order to do so, the team must devolve the vision goals into individual targets for financial plan lines, departments, and disciplines. Each of these targets is related to another. Revenue is tied to marketing, sales, purchasing, production, new product development, installation and service. Earnings adds to this list all of the other departments. Each contributes either income, expense or both. Pricing is one of the principle sources for earnings. When priced too high, revenue is low. When priced too low, margin is low. Pricing is a balancing act between market expectations and internal company costs. Each of the overall goals to achieve the one-year vision is broken into its component parts by company departments. Timelines are assigned to those areas where appropriate. The team will generate a list of potential goals and targets for each department and the overall company. At this point it’s not the intention to eliminate any of them, but to capture each of them so they can be further analyzed in the future. The number of goals will be large. In fact, they will be too numerous to all be developed. In future modules the goals will be consolidated and ranked for suitability and only those most appropriate will be expanded.
- Part 2 Month 12 Team Recommendations – The team has completed its investigative work and now will compile their findings and recommendations and present them to the executive team for approval to proceed with the strategic plan. The team will formally present all of their analysis to the executive team along with their conclusions based on the data. They will present the information they have gathered and generated on mission, vision, and values. If they have recommendations to make regarding any of these, they will make them as well and provide the rationale for their recommendations. They will present the results of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and barriers study along with any revelations or conclusion this study rendered. They will then offer the market and competitor data and present their conclusions along these lines. They will present the financial information as to the cost-benefit of some of the goals. They will then present the team’s recommendations regarding the goals, targets, and five-year vision and ask for the executives team’s approval and permission to move onto the actual planning portion of their work. The executive team may approve as submitted, may make revisions or recommendations on the spot, or require time to digest the team’s report. Upon approval, the planning team will move into the next phase, the actual planning of the implementation to achieve the goals.
Strategic Planning – Part 3- Year 3
- Part 3 Month 1 Prioritize Goals – During this module the planning team will prioritize the goals they have developed to support the overall first year’s vision. It is usual for the team to generate many goals. In fact, the number of goals is normally too large to work through and implement. The team has a limited band width of time to apply to the strategic planning project. Even if they were able to devote all their time to the project, it still would not be enough. And, all of the goals do not have to be attained. If the proper goals are selected, others will be attained as well. With proper prioritization the plan can be produced that will achieve the first years vision and lay the groundwork for the remaining years. That is what this module will accomplish. The team will select categories to which goals will be applied. There will be several overall categories such as revenue, margin and earnings. There will be several other departmental or discipline categories. The number of categories will be limited to ten. Revenue may have several categories. Overall revenue and perhaps specific product revenues. Other categories may also be sub-divided. For each of the categories the goals established in the past modules will be listed and the goals within that category limited to five. Therefore, the total goals will be fifty at a maximum. The team will prepare the prioritized lists for presentation to the executive team.
- Part 3 Month 2 Approve Priorities – The planning team will present to the executive team their list of prioritized goals by category. This meeting will be a working session, wherein the executives and planning team members can hold frank and honest discussions. The object of this meeting is to generate a list of goals that both groups agree represents the highest level of assuring that with success in these areas, the visions will be attained. The planning team will present to the executives their rational for selecting the goals and categories. The executives will ask questions of the team to ensure that the team has used a logical methodology to arrive at its conclusion. The executives will challenge the team and make recommendations for other goals and categories. The team will defend its position with data. If there are disagreements both parties will work until Conesus is reached. With consensus the executive team will approve the planning teams going forward on the ten highest priority goals .
- Part 3 Month 3 Goal Strategies – During the next five modules, the planning team, working with the approved list of goals, will develop strategies that will achieve these goals, limited to five strategies per goal. The effort for this module will be directed at goal number one. Each strategy will have an associated benefit and timeline demonstrating how the strategy will insure achievement. Revenue, in the broad sense, can only be increased by selling more product to the existing customer base, selling existing products to new customers, or selling new products to both existing and new customers. A strategy which is a restatement of one of these three is not a strategy, it is a wish. A strategy could be, to hire more salespeople to contact more customers and thereby sell more product. In the same vein, decrease manufacturing costs is too broad. A narrower focus even with a diagnostic condition would be better. A strategy that the manufacturing costs in the casting department are excessive when compared to the industry averages, particularly in scrap costs, and these costs will be reduced to industry average. It is conceivable that fifty different strategies will be developed. There will not be any attempts to limit them or to rank them in any way. That will take place in the next module. The purpose of this module is to formulate as many strategies as possible that could possibly achieve the goals. Throughout this process the team is presenting their findings, conclusions and recommendations for approval. The executive team will become de-facto members of the planning team during this period.
- Part 3 Month 4 Goal Strategies – As in module three, the team will continue to develop strategies. In this module the concentration will be on goals two and three.
- Part 3 Month 5 Goal Strategies – As in module three, the team will continue to develop strategies. In this module the concentration will be on goals four and five.
- Part 3 Month 6 Goal Strategies – As in module three, the team will continue to develop strategies. In this module the concentration will be on goals six and seven.
- Part 3 Month 7 Goal Strategies – As in module three, the team will continue to develop strategies. In this module the concentration will be on goals eight, nine and ten.
- Part 3 Month 8 Prioritizing Strategies – With strategies developed, it is time for the team to prioritize them based on their likely hood of success and their potential positive impact on the goal they are aiming to achieve. The strategies for each goal that was established in the past modules was limited to five, with the total number being fifty at the maximum. Fifty is too many for the team to focus on. This next step is to reduce the number of strategies to a more manageable number. Using the data the team has gathered during their work, and any other available data or experts, the team will rank each of the strategies within its goal. The team will then group the top three strategies from each goal and rank them as a group. It is the intension to develop a list of strategies to be implemented to ensure reaching the goals established by the executive team. It is not necessary that every department within the company have a strategy to work on for this to happen. Only a limited number of strategies can be implemented at any one time and it is up to the planning and executive teams to ensure that the number of strategies is correct. Most strategies require considerable time and resources to implement and it is in the best interest of all that they be spent on the strategies with the best benefit. The team will prepare the prioritized lists for presentation to the executive team for their review, modification and approval.
- Part 3 Month 9 Action Planning – Action plans and their execution are at the heart of turning a strategic plan into a tactical plan. Up until this point, the team has been doing research on the company, its competition, the market, and the external environment. The executive team has stated its long-term vision and the planning team has constructed shorter-term visions, down to five years. They have also generated key performance indicators for the intervening years in the five years leading up to the five-year vision. The team has generated strategies that they believe will achieve the one-year targets, thereby ensuring the five-year vision. They have prioritized these strategies to those with the best likely hood of success and best benefit to the company. It is now time to prepare the plans for implementation. These implementation plans are called action plans. They detail those actions necessary to achieve each strategic objective. It lists the due date for each action, who is accountable for having the action satisfactorily completed on or before its due date, and the key performance indicators, kpi’s, that indicate success. Due to the time-consuming nature of generation action plans, the team will limit itself to the first action plan only in this module. Part of the action planning process is the establishment of an implementation team meeting. The participants of this meeting are the strategic planning team, members of the executive or senior management teams as they desire, and those tasked with implementing the actions in the action plan. Part of the module includes the initiation of the action plan implementation team and the team meetings. These meetings will ensure that those accountable for actions take responsibility. As they are accountable, they must be allowed some freedom to revise the plans, with the executive team approval. Formulation of the implementation team will be finalized in a following module.
- Part 3 Month 10 Action Planning – Development of the action plans continues in this module as in module nine. The team will have had the experience of development in module nine and will undertake the development of half of the remaining plans.
- Part 3 Month 11 Action Planning – Development of the action plans continues in this module as in modules nine and ten. As the team will have had the experience of development in module nine and ten, it will undertake the development of the remaining plans.
- Part 3 Month 12 Summary Report – With all of the action plans prepared, the team has accomplished the planning portion of its task. The team will prepare for executive review all of the action plans prepared. It will summarize their completion dates so that the entire program can be monitored. The team will have developed key performance indicators (kpi) for each plan that indicate performance to date and cumulative. In this way, the planning executive teams can see how the implementation teams are performing when implementation is initiated. The team will also recruit, with the assistance of the executive team, those associates who will lead the implementation, entirely or in phases, and who are accountable for successful conclusion. The implementation team members will be introduced as a team at the executive review meeting. Prior to the executive review meeting, the planning team will have met with all the potential implementation team members and their managers to gain their agreement to their membership. As these people already have full time jobs, their superiors will have to relieve them of other responsibilities in order to accomplish these strategic tasks, or they can change the nature of their positions to include the strategic tasks. In case of conflict, senior management will have to make the final determination.
Strategic Planning – Part 4- Year 4
- Part 4 Month 1 Implementation Schedule – This is the implementation year of the strategic plan and we want to get off to a great start. The objective of this module is to do that. With the planning team and implementing team, and any other parties felt necessary, we will construct a yearlong schedule of implantation. The schedule will show key milestones for task, completion dates, and key performance indicators. These indicators will be directly relatable to the goals we are pursuing. The teams will prepare a review format for the executive reviews and it will be utilized for each of them. It will show overall performance, and individual action plan / goal performance. So as to be familiar, the teams will use the standard company format. The data used in reporting will be extracted from normal company reports. If this is not possible in certain cases, the data reported will be traced to standard company numbers. It is the intent to not have to invent new and original report formats. If revenue is the metric, revenue as reported on the company’s income statement will be used. If scrap reduction is a metric, the normal manufacturing scrap reports will be the source of data. The two teams will develop a standard agenda for their meetings and decide on what and how it will be reported. Much thought must be given to the agenda. There will be times when targets are missed, and the implementer is not responsible for the miss. If the manufacturing engineers are to install a new process which will capture the targeted scrap reduction, but are behind schedule due to equipment manufacturer hold ups, the implementation team member is not holding things up. He or she is only the messenger. The teams need to have as part of their agenda, time to research problems and develop resolutions. During this module the teams will prepare for analyzing and reporting results and taking the appropriate actions when results are not as desired. The meeting of the implementation groups should be considered one of the key company meetings and executives and senior managers should be involved.
- Part 4 Month 2 Implement Actions – Each of the following modules, module two through module 10, will ensure the completion of the required actions. Using a standardized agenda, the same material will be followed so as to ensure that all of the information that is needed is reported. It is expected that executives and other senior members of the management team will attend these meetings and it is important that they and other attendees be clear as to what is being reported. The teams will review the overall project. Some of the metrics would be schedule attainment, and percent complete on projects and revenue or savings realized. There will be a review of each of the individual action plans. The review should provide answers to the following: is the plan on schedule? Are key performance indicators positive with respect to expectations? Are there any anticipated issues? If the answers to these inquiries is positive, the review would move on to the next action plan. If not, a short discussion of remedies can take place. If the discussion is too long, the subject will be tabled and addressed at the end of the meeting. The review should move briskly through the plans that are on track, and then focus, with those responsible or involved, on the others. In this way the plans can be reviewed and those that have issues can have a more focused discussion with only those that can contribute. Also, those that are not involved can leave the meeting and continue to work on their action plans.
- Part 4 Month 3 Implement Actions – As is stated in module two, the teams will review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues.
- Part 4 Month 4 Implement Actions – As is stated in module two, the teams will review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues.
- Part 4 Month 5 Implement Actions – As is stated in module two, the teams will review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues.
- Part 4 Month 6 Implement Actions – As is stated in module two, the teams will review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues.
- Part 4 Month 7 Implementation Review – In addition to having the teams review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues as in module two, the teams will prepare an interim report for executive management detailing results to date. They will address the schedule and the key performance indicators and goals, actuals vs. expected.
- Part 4 Month 8 Implement Actions – As is stated in module two, the teams will review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues.
- Part 4 Month 9 Implement Actions – As is stated in module two, the teams will review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues.
- Part 4 Month 10 Implement Actions – As is stated in module two, the teams will review the status of the action plans, key performance indicators, schedule, and issues.
- Part 4 Month 11 Formalize Actions – The teams will formalize a report of their activities and accomplishments that will be presented for executive review. The report will summarize the entire four-year history of the project. It will include the long-term goals, all of the research results, the five-year goals, the one, two, three, and four year goals that support the five year goal, the entire list of strategies for reaching the goals, those strategies selected for implantation, the action plans for implementation, and the results of implementing the action plans. A report on goal attainment should be resented. The purpose is for the executive team to understand and appreciate the work of the various teams in this process. And to recognize the results that the team has accomplished and how far they have progressed in the company’s journey to the five and longer-term goals. The teams will continue implementing the action plans.
- Part 4 Month 12 Report Results – The teams will report the results of their efforts. They will continue implementing the action plans.
The strategic planning program makes use of four powerful theories which alone are primary motivators and in combination are geometrically multiplied. The first is if you know where you want to go, it is far better to plan your way than leave it to chance. In the planning phase, we start with the owner and determine his or her desired end point. We then proceed to lay out the plan to achieve the owner’s goals.
The second theory is that teams are a proven method for accomplishing great deeds. In study after study teams perform better than individuals in formulating goals, determining how to attain them, and then implementing action for their capture. With teams you have a community of individuals united in the same goal. Fairly early in the planning phase we introduce the concept of teams, first with the executives, and then with the strategic planning team.
The third theory is that people perform better when they are held accountable for its success and they believe in its possibility. As the planning team sets its own goals, there is an automatic belief in them being attainable. The senior staff and owner’s review of the teams progress and encouragement holds them accountable to their commitments.
The fourth theory is that to achieve company goals, they must be in alignment with the implementers personal goals. During this phase we develop the owner’s, the executives’, and the team members personal goals. A part of this phase is to examine the personal goals and the company goals as espoused by the owner and senior monument for alignment.
Each of the four theories plays a part in the planning phase and together they exert a force on all of those involved to succeed.
During this phase the team develops the information necessary before the strategic plan can be prepared. Team dynamics are very much in play during this phase as it is the team who develops the goals for the strategic plan. To do so, they must conduct analysis of all the major areas that impact on the company’s ability to succeed. Starting with the owner’s and senior management’s goals, the team undertakes a journey of analysis. The team members may find that they are not conversant with all of the areas that they will analyze. Team members will come from diverse areas in the company. Marketing, manufacturing, purchasing, sales and customer service to name a few candidates. Each of the team members brings their own expertise in their area. Together the team combines the individual expertise into a team expertise. In their team meetings the members will learn which members are more expert in certain areas and which are not. They will learn which team members can be allowed to lead discussions and which cannot. Only in a team setting can this sense of the members be generated at the rare that it is.
During this phase the team will have its work questioned thoroughly by senior management and have to defend it logically with data. The data they generate has to lead them to the plan, not a particular individual’s preconceived notion. Discussions with the executives will be accountability tools for the team, and the executives. An executive who makes a commitment to the team and then fails in its execution will be held accountable by the team and the other executives. Likewise, the team members will hold themselves accountable.
During the implementation phase the team will prepare the strategic plan. The plan will benefit from the team’s nature as a composite group all working to the same goal. In determining the future path for the company, they will receive a lot of feedback from the executives. After all, the executives’ careers are riding on the strategic teams output. The executives will hold the team accountable to produce a plan which is based on data that the team has generated in the development phase, and that is aimed at the goals that the owner and executive team have set. As the teem progresses through this phase, the executives accountable will review the first-year targets for their impact on the long-term goals. They will hold the team accountable for producing the evidence of their targets.
The team will then generate strategies to achieve the targets approved by the executives. The executives must approve these strategies, or with the team, develop ones that all agree are more likely to achieve the targets. This mutually generated set of targets is used as part of the plan.
With the strategies agreed, the team will build action plans for achieving each of them. These action plans list what must be accomplished, the action, when it must be completed, and the individual responsible and accountable for its completion by its due date. These action plans are a very powerful way to hold each other accountable for success. The reviews at the executive level serve to keep the pressure on their completion, to highlight difficulties is their success, and to identify assistance that can be given to ensure its completion.
This phase is the culmination of the others preceding. During this phase the strategic plan is acted on via the action plans, their review, and execution. The strategic plan is the document that shows how the personal and company goals can coexist and be in alignment. The strategic plan is aimed at ensuring that the first year of the plan supports the ongoing activities that will ensure the long-term goals. The team stays together during this phase as it is the primary group to oversee the execution of the plans. The team is accountable for the plans execution and modifications necessary. The executives now hold the team accountable for executing the plan and for holding those accountable for the success of the actions.
The strategic and action plans demonstrate the need for a road map to ensure a successful journey. The company does not want to wander aimlessly and take what chance delivers. If you do not know where you want to go, any road can get you there, or not. When you know your destination, you must map it out.
This last phase provides a point of reflection. Is the strategic plan what is needed to achieve your long-term goals? Are the action plans detailed enough to allow those accountable to know what is required of them? If the answers are yes, then the company needs to decide how to continue on the strategic planning path. Most successful companies recast the plan annually, using some of the original team members, and adding some new ones. They start roughly when the completed plan is being executed. There is little need for detailed analysis as it is fairly fresh. Just a review to see if anything has changed. Then with the year two goals established, the strategies and action plans can be generated for that year. In this way, the company is constantly looking at its long-term goals.
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Although there were many inventors of the automobile, mainly in Europe, the automobile industry is rooted in Henry Ford’s assemble line manufacturing. Prior to him automobiles were a rich man’s luxury. Henry Ford realized if he could make his vehicles less expensively, he could sell them more cheaply and sell many more of them. His assembly line workers, thanks to less expensive cars and higher wages, could buy the cars they built. Henry Ford was not the only automotive manufacturer. There were other car makers at that time and the Dodge brothers were one of the success stories, but they were eventually bought out. General Motors was an assembly of various other auto companies that were bought up and made into GM. Their philosophy was to build cars at varying increasing price points. From the Chevrolet, the entry level GM car, to the Cadillac, GM’s luxury model, there was a GM car for everyone’s status and budget. When the great depression hit, many of the independent auto makers were forced into bankruptcy and the survivors bought up the pieces. Those that were able lived through the depression. World War II had a big impact on the industry and car makers switched to making tanks, jeeps, truck, airplanes and even ships. After the war, GM was in a better position than most and became the dominant player. The 1950’s were a time of expansion in the auto industry. Then came the foreign manufacturers. There had always been the sports car buyer, but it was a small part of the market. When Europe and Japan recovered from the war, the imports increased. From Europe came the BMW’s, Mercedes’s, Maserati’s, and Roles Royce’s. The Japanese could not build luxury cars at first, so, they concentrated on less expensive ones. The US auto makers thought the Japanese would never make any impact on their market and most did little to counter them. The Japanese auto makers learned from their entry vehicles that the US customer were not all the same. Although some wanted luxury or speed, many just wanted inexpensive dependable transportation. And that is what the Japanese concentrated on. Over time, they gained the reputation as the most dependable and highest quality car maker. While the Japanese were gathering US market share, the US auto makers were producing cars of lower and lower quality. They were concentrating on specialty cars such as Muscle Cars and the Corvette, and the US market was moving to the Japanese vehicles.
US auto manufacturing is facing stiff competition from Europe and Asia. The Big Three auto makers are now the Big Two, with Chrysler a part of Fiat Chrysler. During the Great Recession GM was forced to take a government bail out and restructure. It shed the Pontiac and Oldsmobile divisions as conditions for receiving a life saving loan. Chrysler has become Fiat Chrysler after Fiat controlled a majority of Chrysler stock. Ford is still independent and did not require a bail out. The US market is now being served at all levels from a worldwide number of auto makers. There are multiple European manufacturers from Italy through Germany, France and England, to the Scandinavian countries. They are aimed at the entire US market. From entry level to luxury cars, SUV’s to trucks, and off-road and specialty vehicles. The Asian suppliers are much the same. However, they not only are Japanese, they are also Korean and Chinese, among others. The US market is under international pressure from some savvy companies. There are other pressures brought on by US regulations. The push for less pollution and better gas mileage is changing the design of automobiles. There are electric cars, hybrid electric – gasoline cars as well as the standard internal combustion vehicles. In the US independent auto makers have appeared, most notably Tesla electric cars. These cars are not the norm of non-polluting cars. Tesla’s are fast, powerful, and stylish. Their performance is better than most internal combustion engine vehicles. The auto makers have a difficult path to follow.
The automotive sector is in controlled turmoil and will be in this state for years to come. The environmental regulations are getting tighter and tighter and continually changing. The fuel mileage and pollution standards are open to change as new administrations come into political power. Various environmental movements are espousing standards which may not be attainable. Ownership of cars is changing. The younger generation, the millennials, are not getting drivers licenses at the same rate as their seniors. Their auto ownership is also down from past generations. As prices of cars increase, people are driving their older model for a longer period. The days of buying a new car every three years is long gone. Experts are predicting that more electric and hybrid cars will be sold. More of them will be self-driving. All of this requires an increase in technology in cars and a corresponding increase in cost. Sales of cars are changing. What was a once the only way to shop, buying through the dealer, has become many ways. There are on-line dealer sites which provide most of what the dealer experience did. There are full online sales that drop off your new can and pick up your trade in. There is no dealer input to this sale. Auto makers have to determine how or if they fit in this buying scenario. There are many ways to travel by car without owning one, Uber and Lyft are two leaders in this industry. How does the automotive industry fit in the non-ownership market? Cities are mandating auto free zones. Cities like New York and San Francisco are among the leaders in this cause. Auto free zones will require more mass transit to move into and around the city. New York with its bus and subway system can move people. The question there is how do people get to the cities to use the mass transit. San Francisco has rail service to get people to the city, but to go from the peninsula to Marine county requires a drive trough the city. The auto makers will be facing a decrease in buyers and an increase in car cost. How they wend their way through this quagmire of regulation will foretell their future.
Electricity as a science is relatively new. Ben Franklin with his lighting experiments was one of the experts of his time, and was internationally known as the father of electricity. Barely one hundred years later electricity was a reality. The electronics industry can be traced back to Edison and Tesla, two of the leading pioneers in electricity and its generation and usage. Edison with his inventive team invented the practical light bulb. Tesla was a champion of high voltage alternating current transmission. They, with other entrepreneurs, electrified the US and took it from no electrification in 1900 to ninety percent electrified in 1980. Early electronic inventions included the telegraph, telephone, radio and television. During World War II the electronics industry was stimulated to improve and invent items used in the war. Radio was improved, radar was invented and refined, avionics were necessary for long range airplane’s bombing. All of these inventions found their way to a peace time use. Radio expanded and every locality had its hometown station. Television piggy-backed on radio and was in every home. The military remained the source of most research that resulted in civilian use. Airborne electronics help the airline industry grow. Military communications became civilian radio and improved television. The start of the space age, and NASA, provided many other products. The first digital computers were built to solve large problems. They were extremely large and required special environments to operate reliably. They grew in computing power and became smaller. The personal computer, PC, came from this computer maturation. This grow in computing power and reduction in size has resulted in cell phones that fit in your hand and have more computing power that those that put a man on the moon.
Today electronics are everywhere. We are all connected by the internet on our pc’s or cell phones. They are ubiquitous. We are looking at our cell phones every few minutes, some more so than others. We research on the internet, not the library. Our businesses are being run via computers which are connected to the web. We are so reliant on the electronics in our lives that when they are disrupted, we cannot function. And, our reliance on these is getting more intense. With the internet of things, IoT, most devices can be interconnected. However, this interconnection has its downside. Hackers are finding devious ways to access other peoples’ accounts for nefarious purposes. Not everyone on the internet is honest and upstanding. The internet is both good and bad. On the positive side, it does enable us to connect with each other. We can share information and access more information than our local libraries could contain. On the other side, not all information on the internet is correct. Some are intentionally false while others are just opinion. With instant communication via twitter and the like, we can proclaim our views, our feelings in public and hide behind twitter. This allows all types of opinions to be published and believed. Hate groups use it. Public figures use it. It has usurped the traditional media as many people’s news source. Televisions have migrated to flat screen sets. These sets provide a bigger and clearer picture than the older CRT sets. Network TV, broadcast over the radio waves has been supplanted to a large part by cable and satellite transmission. Cable provides many more channels of television, but in trying to serve everyone, many of these channels are of no interest to most. Satellite is similar but is plagued with interruptions, mostly related to weather. With our reliance on electronics comes criminal activities, Ransomware, an activity that locks you out of your computer, personal or business, and demands payment for allowing you to access it. Hacking, where unauthorized people enter into your computer network to steal industry secrets, or personal information to be sold to other criminals is on the rise. The industry has provided services for a fee to alleviate some of the hacking, but until a truly secure firewall can be built, which some experts say is impossible, we will have to be extremely guarded with how we access the internet.
New cell phone models come out every year. They have more features and take better pictures. They are an international product with national network differences. They include features that were once other devices. You can listen to music on your iPhone. You do not need a Walkman to listen to music. You can read a book on your phone. The pc and laptop businesses are combining. More physical attributes are being provided via software. The electronics industry has been on what could be called a self-destructive course for some time, but it is continually remaking itself. We are all more reliant on the electronics in our pockets, on our walls, in our cars, everywhere. There is some push back against the electronics industry. The products they provide have a lot of features that some of the public wants and appreciate. But, the prices of cell phones keep on increasing. The push back over price vs usability is one the industry will have to deal with. We see providers of cell service selling simple cell phones at reasonable prices. The market is segmenting, and the industry will adapt to it. Hacking will continue to be problematic. Until virtual private networks are used by all, and assuming that hackers do not find a way around them, hacking will be an issue. The industry has no choice but to do something about this. The alternative is for consumer groups to force legislation that puts the onus of identity theft on the banks and other financials institutions that allow identity thieves access to funds when they misrepresent themselves as others. The network providers, computer manufactures, and software writers will have to build more robust protection to prevent hacking.
Manufacturing, that is making products, has a long history. Pre-historic mankind made weapons and farm tools by hand, each one different. Some men became skilled at making weapons and set up what we might call blacksmith operations. In the middle ages, the blacksmith made everything from armor to swords, all one at a time and all unique. In time a blacksmith might hire apprentices and have them do some of the work. This worked well for ages. After all, a man’s armor was a custom fit, so it would be different from another’s suit. As weapons advanced and firearms were introduced, the blacksmith became a gunsmith, a highly skilled occupation. A skilled gunsmith made very accurate and beautiful guns, but when they failed the gunsmith had to repair them and make new parts by hand, a laborious and lengthily process. In the eighteen century, Eli Whitney, an American gunsmith had a better idea. He would build guns from interchangeable parts so that any part could be fit in any gun. He used relatively unskilled workers in his assembly plants and highly accurate machinery to make the parts so one would be the same as another. In America, Whiney is considered the father of modern manufacturing. In England, at about the same time, James Watt invented the steam engine. These two breakthroughs began the industrial revolution. In the US steam power did not take off as in England due to the plentiful locations for water wheels providing waterpower. Ford’s assembly lines proved another benefit to manufacturing. Anything made repeatedly could use this same process. But even though the process was faster, it still required many hands. As we moved into the high-tech world of electronics, the manufacturing technology remained the same. Hand assembling parts into sub-assemblies and assemblies into final products. With the introduction of industrial engineering, manufacturing was broken down into functions and each function optimized to produce the lowest cost. The auto industry had a wake-up call when the Japanese began to take US market share mainly on the quality of their cars. American car makers adopted some of the techniques from Japan, notable just in time and lean, but not fully.
In the US there is a mix of high tech, job shop and in between manufacturers. The high tech can be represented by automobile makers, telecommunications equipment manufacturers, computer and cell phone makers, military equipment providers, and those that supply NASA. Job shops supply the high-tech companies with parts and pieces. In the auto industry, tiers one and two suppliers are of this model. They might be highly technical in what they do, but when it comes to manufacturing, they are not. Mold makers who make the molds used by injection molders comes to mind. The molds they produce are very sophisticated, expensive, and extremely accurately dimensioned. But they are made one at a time as that is what is required and therefore ordered. In the auto industry there are constant changes that have to be input to the mold design. Having several multi-million-dollar in molds that would have to be scrapped is not good financial sense. Most of the high-tech manufacturers are fully computerized and use a form of production control software, usually called mrp, to plan the facility. An mrp system is based on starting the manufacturing process early enough to be able to delivery to customer’s desire. They have to order and receive all the necessary materials, manufacture the parts so they can be assembled into final product, and final assembles and tested, if necessary, by the committed ship date. Most mrp systems are push systems, in that they push material, parts, assemblies, and finished goods through the factory. The auto industry, learning from the Japanese, use various types of pull systems, usually lean or jit (just in time). They believe that these systems produce products faster and at higher quality.
Various manufacturers are using different tools to gain in efficiency and productivity. The concentration on improving the factory will be ongoing. Today, there are many philosophies on how to improve manufacturing. Large companies, such as the auto makers, will continue to modernize their factories and continue to add robotics. They are examining artificial intelligence (ai) and will implement more and more over time. Process companies have used technology to improve their processes. The flow of petroleum in a refinery, the ingredients used in toothpaste, and the making of chemicals are all instances where automatic monitoring of conditions and taking appropriate actions is paramount in production improvement. Such companies will continue automating and changing automation to artificial intelligence is definitely in the future. The software that controls all aspects of the factories is due a major revision. Maybe not so much a revision, as a revolution. The mrp systems actually control the minimum through-put time once they are loaded. Various safety times are built in to the mrp system and the user is instructed to populate these safety times according to how the facility has run. Users tend to want to be safe and they load times that are the worst that they have experienced. Unfortunately, these times are seldom experienced, but so when they are loaded. They drive the system to the worst case. that individually can occur but would never occur at the same time. MRP is a batch or is used as a batch system. Even if material can move through the factory more quickly, it is scheduled to include the safety times and proceeds at this limit. Until production managers gain more flexibility this will continue. Lean, just in time and other systems have been around for a long time and have proven to be more effective than the standard ways we tend to operate factory’s. However, with rare exceptions we continue with more of the same. Now we are talking about agile. Agile flies in the face of good management practices as practiced today. It is dynamic. Decisions are made quickly by teams. There is little higher management involved in daily activity. It will be tough to introduce agile in most factories. Most manufacturing people tend to be careful. They have seen the latest flavor of the month fail. Only if upper management is convinced and ready to take a long journey down any improvement road will there be a change in the factories.
Our technology history begins with fire. Before fire, man was like the other animals. Huddling together to keep warm, eating raw food, and depending on the sun for illumination. Fire changed all that. Fire brought warmth, cooked food, and activity lighted after sundown. The fire keeper was a person with a lot of responsibility in the early society. If the fire extinguished, fire could only be gotten from the next natural occurrence, usually lighting storms. When man learned how to make fire he was free to roam. The fire did not keep him tied to the location of fire and the fire maker supplanted the fire keeper. For early man woodworking was highly tech. Tools and weapons made from wood were essential. With fire, tools and weapons could be constructed of metals and the iron, brass and bronze ages brought civilization to mankind. Metallurgy became a science and a profitable and necessary technology. Transportation technology advanced as well. Travel was once only by foot. Then came mules and horses to ride. With the invention of the wheel, a high-tech device, wagons came into being. On the water, canoes of varying types provided transport for people and goods. Early sailboats could only sail downwind. When a keel and rudder were added, boats were able to sail both down and up wind. In the seventeenth century onward the sailboat was the high tech of the age. The industrial revolution following the age of enlightenment brought technology many steps forward. Steam engines and machines to do what once was hand labor brought on a new generation of technological innovation. Wars had their influences on the technology revolution. Wars bring the need for better weapons to defeat the enemies. Battle ships, airplanes, aircraft carriers, tanks, bigger bombs, culmination in the atomic and thermo nuclear weapons of today. Communications was once accomplished by letters, written out by individuals long-hand. They could take days, weeks, or months to reach their addressees depending on where on the globe they lived. A round trip inquiry could take years to resolve. Improvements in communications did come. Over land, the semaphore could send messages in minutes that would take a day or more without it. With the telegraph, messages could be transmitted almost instantaneously between stations, they still relieved on hand delivery to the final recipient. Messages still had to rely on ships if the correspondents were separated by oceans. With the laying of the trans- oceanic cables, messages could be transmitted as if the two locations were in the same country. Communications improved and we now have computers and cell phones with which to communicate.
The present state of technology is divided. On the one hand, everyone has a computer and a cell phone. There is a computer in every hand. NASA has put a man on the moon and is now planning to put more on Mars. Automobiles and appliances are full of technology, from sensors to specialize computers. We have the internet, a fountain of knowledge, half-truth, and lies. In its proper use, it supplants all of our reference books. It is a library in a computer. It allows us to transmit pictures of special events, birthday parties, weddings, and other celebrations to those who cannot attend. We can share our views on anything and everything, and either sign our opinions or be anonymous. In its negative life, the internet may give wrong information by accident or by design. It can send pictures that once were considered personal or to the world. It can espouse opinions that are mean, despicable, lies or just plan propaganda. We are all tied together via the internet and many of our services, appliances, factories, banks and other financial institutions, and utilities are vulnerable to cyber attacks by hackers. These attacks can be annoying to financially disastrous, to shutting down essential services. We have invented the Internet of Things (IoT) which ties, in theory, any digital device to any or all others. This might allow hackers to access your home computer with all of your banking information, including how to gain access to you accounts, by entering via an appliance. There is another side to technology. In the middle of this tech rich world sits a tach starved population. There are areas in the US and in the world in general that are not tach savvy. They do not use computers, can not get access to computers, or can only use them at work or school. There are those in the workplace that can work form home due to the computers that they have at home or can take home from their place of work. This has formed at lest two classes of workers in this time of Covid pandemic, those that can work at home due to their access to computers, there by remaining employed, and those who’s jobs must be attended to at their place of employment. The latter can not go to work and have become unemployed.
The future of technology is fuzzy. Those that embrace the future see a world immersed in the technology of the times. On the other hand, those that do not or will not keep up with the new tech demands see the future as frustrating. They are comfortable with a low to medium tech world. Cellphones are fine as are computers for email. Living on a smart phone is not, and they do not want to be driven there by the high-tech people. There are some for who the computer is out of their financial reach and feel left out of the digital world. There is a classic case of haves and have nots which has developed and is continuing to develop that could drive a wedge between the two groups. The haves are disciples of high tech. The have nots are anti-disciples. Looking at how quickly technology has grown over the past fifty years, the next fifty will be astonishing. We are experimenting with self-driving cars, self-piloting aircraft, various forms of non-hydrocarbon energy (electricity, hybrid, hydrogen). Aircraft are being looked at to take other fuels. Solar energy is rampant and with the advent of improved batteries, even more reliable. In entertainment, television has moved and is moving further towards providing everything for everybody in all languages, and at the same time providing nothing for any individual. As more and more technology enters the main steam of our world, our worlds become more and more complicated. We have already moved beyond the world where we can fix, or have fixed, most things if they break, to a world where if it breaks, we buy another one. Cars that could be maintained by any competent person, have turned into computer-controlled vehicles that cannot be repaired by anyone other than a computer technician. We have changed are world by inventing our high technology products. We have done this before and have survived and even come out on the other side happier than before. I am confident that we will find a way through this high-tech forest and be glad that we made the journey.
Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone in 1876, the beginning telecommunications history. He also founded AT&T, the company which produced and operated the telephone systems in the US, and eventually internationally. The first[ phone systems were urban, as that is where most phone customers were. Each customer had wires from their phone run to a central office in which were operators who would connect the originating customer to the receiving customer. As more people became connected to the system, miles of wire ran from phones to central offices and between these offices. Eventually, technology produced multiplexing where several phone signals could be sent over a single line, saving all of the individual wires. Long distance calls were handled by operators between central offices. Eventually special long-distance lines, called trunk lines, were installed to handle these calls. With the adoption of the phone, more and more operators were needed to provide the connections between callers. The introduction of electronic relay operated switches provided automatic connections and eliminated the need for large numbers of operators. Over time, the switches were enhanced and made digital. The later digital switches were, in reality, specialized computers doing the switching function. On the business side, AT&T was made up of three separate companies. Separate Bell Telephone Companies operated the local phone systems. Bell Labs was the systems research center and developed new phone produces. This is the arm that invented the transistor. Western Electric was the manufacturing arm of AT&T. On the international front, AT&T operated phone systems in Europe and in South and Central America. Over time, they were forced to divest themselves of non-US companies. First to go were the Central and South American companies. These formed the beginnings of ITT. Then the European companies were nationalized or spun off. Lastly, the Canadian company became independent. The last part of AT&T’s breakup resulted in it being split into seven Baby Bells which eventually merged into three, and Bell Core, the old Bell Labs. With cell phones AT&T is one of the primary carriers, the others being Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobil, and US Cellular.
At present, the US phone industry is divided into two main parts, landlines and cell service. The landline parts are the remnants of the old bell system and are under the umbrella of one of the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOC), or one of several smaller companies. The providers vary state by state. Landline service has been losing customers over the past ten years as more and more people abandon their old phone systems for cell service. Younger people may never have had a landline, except in their parents homes. Cell service includes more than just voice service. With smart phones there are new offerings presented with each new phone. The latest phones provide internet connectivity, enabling a user to get email on their phone, do research with google or other search engines, run applications (aps) that can give directions, find a hotel or restaurant, book a flight or hotel room, or lots more. Telecommunications has moved from voice communications to a communication, research, assistant, etc. in your hand. From the consumers perspective, telecommunications in cell service. And landlines are there because they were installed in the stone age of telephony and haven’t been removed. Some people keep landlines because they are reliable and, in an emergency, will be available for a longer period of time, as they run on phone company power. Most people use cell phones for emergencies and all other tasks. Cellphone providers offer specials every day and are trying to capture market share. Local Telco’s have their landline customer as captive and don’t run specials on them. Today the market is almost entirely cellular.
The future in telecommunications is driven by the smart phone and the smart phone makers, and the 5G platform driving to interconnect everything. 5G with its broader band width will allow for faster communications, and therefore better connectivity and a more stable signal. 5G is promised to provide for more connectivity leading to smarter electric networks, and connected vehicles. In factories, this would lead to better production line controls and reactions to supply fluctuations before they are apparent to the floor. It is especially conducive to the IoT, where a lot of connections are maintained over the same networks. So, what does this mean for the future? Telecommunications has morphed beyond people talking to people. It is computers talking to computers. Wherever a computer is attached to a device, that device can be remotely controlled. With artificial intelligence (AI) these machines can be run autonomously. The self-driving vehicle requires this to be operating in any numbers. Drone services need the same thing. Telecommunications is further morphing into the supplier of electronic highways for data and machine communications to flow. The amount of data that has to be communicated between an autonomous taxi, its pickup location, and the surrounding traffic is massive. This data has to be constantly refreshed in real time to allow the taxi to safely navigate to the pickup, take the passenger on board and verify their credentials, and then safely navigate to the passengers destination. Without the ability to do this, the autonomous taxi, autonomous drone and many other self-controlling devices or operations cannot be realized. If the telecommunications industry is going to continue to change to support this type of traffic, it will become more and more a vehicle to transfer data.
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Detroit has a long history. Founded in 1701 by the French, its economy was based on the fur trade. The British and French both contended for this trade and due to its position on Lake Michigan, these countries vied for ownership, resulting in the French and Indian Wars. After the American revolution, the British and Americans fought again in the war of 1812. During the American Civil war, Detroit volunteers fought for the Union army with distinction.
During the late 19th century, the city was a major port and transportation hub and with its Great Lakes location it had grown into a major shipping and manufacturing center. From this sprouted the automotive industry. Henry Ford, followed by the Dodge brothers, Walter Chrysler, and others built an industry and made Detroit the automotive capital of the world.
With the auto industry, there became the inevitable organization of the auto unions. There were positive and negative outcomes of the unions. On one hand the 40-hour work week became the standard of industry. Working conditions were improved and auto workers’ salaries grew. On the other hand, the unions and their leadership increased their influence in the industry and were influenced by organized crime.
With the growth of Detroit and the plentiful job opportunities came unprece