Monday, May 26, 2014

Building Bridges In the Midst of Complexity

It is common during strategic planning to encounter a situation where one needs a short term plan in order to create the right conditions for a longer term strategic plan. I call these short term strategic plans a “bridge plan” because they bridge the gap and create the right foundation for the longer term plan.

To create a successful bridge plan, one must first understand the difference between the following two concepts:

- Individual competencies refer to a specific person’s knowledge and skills required to fulfill specific role requirements.  

- Organizational capabilities are collective abilities of the company required to execute the business strategy.  

Sometimes a bridge plan may focus on individual competencies and other times it may focus more on organizational capabilities. The key is to be very clear on building at both levels because it will take both levels to create a sound long range strategic plan.

Second, one must understand that when building a long range strategic plan, you will be willing to work at three levels, namely the day to day operations, the distance future and the intermediate future. It is during this last level that organizations typically onboard the next generation of high growth opportunities that are already in their R&D pipeline. This is often called commercializing an innovative idea. The other thing that happens at this level is the closing of the gap between current competitive strengths and tomorrow’s competitive requirements. Here we are building new core individual competencies and new organizational capabilities.

Now, when building a bridge plan, we need to recognize the shorter time frame. Remember that the goal is to create better conditions for a more in-depth form of long range strategic planning and execution. Therefore, hardwire the plan for numerous short term wins, and to over-communicate the why factor as part of building the bridge plan. Then, make sure the metrics used actually measure progress in a clear and valid way.

Bridge plans can be very effective as an organization evolves, and they can make a profound difference when dealing with adaptive process. This week as you plan for the future, consider the option of building a bridge plan before you create a more in-depth strategic plan.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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