Kraft Foods took a monstrously long time to develop its strategic plan back in the day. I’m talking months and months. Operations would start building product cost estimates beginning in early June. Marketing began building their plans early in the third quarter. And finance, well finance was always planning.
Granted, Kraft was a $40B global behemoth back then but there are serious problems with planning cycles that are too long. Here are three. You probably could add more to the list.
It seems obvious but even in the lethargic food industry, things change; sometimes very quickly. For example, competitors can, and often do, make moves that steal away business which then require a strategic response from you. You’ve done all that planning, months of it, and in the blink of an eye it becomes, well, a little more than worthless.
Most planning that takes that much time is not value added. It’s not generating revenues. It’s not generating earnings. It’s not serving customers. It’s just costing you time and money. The costliest overhead process in all of Kraft at that time was the planning process. Not marketing. Not new product development. Not purchasing. Planning.
The culture becomes jaded when it comes to developing strategy. The typical scenario goes like this. A 2-day offsite is planned to kick off the process. Leaders gather in a room to fill flip charts with issues, opportunities, and potential plans. Everyone is excited. Even people back at the office who’ve heard about the offsite are curious and hopeful. But then the session is over and… nothing happens. Sometimes for a very long time. Rinse and repeat. Every year. Jaded.
There's a very narrow window of opportunity when it comes to effective strategy development. As opposed to a long, expensive strategy process that takes months and then is irrelevant almost as soon as it’s presented, businesses need to cut the planning process to a few days or weeks and begin executing right away. As in, "before you have everything perfectly planned out". Start executing and then make tactical adjustments in real time. This keeps the strategy process fast, effective, responsive, relevant to the needs of the business, and relevant to your organization.
Our strategy development technology, training and –if you need it– advisory services, are designed so you can get your strategy developed quickly and move to execution and impact in days or a few weeks. Contact us to find out more or go here.