An established manufacturing company hired us to help them develop a five year strategic plan. Despite being in business for several decades, the company had not before engaged in a formal planning process. While the leader’s mindset was strategic, the employees had much more tactical mindsets. They focused on solving day to day problems and putting out fires – only to have some of them combust again the next day. Meetings went on too long and leadership was getting pulled into solve problems rather than spending time on sales.
Some employees had a short-sighted mentality that an uptick in sales would be overwhelming and create more problems. In contrast, the CEO wanted to increase sales and create a five year vision and strategy. Clearly there was a cultural conflict: The current tactical culture could not support the creation and implementation of a five year strategic plan.
Before beginning the strategic planning process, we assessed the culture to understand the obstacles to thinking strategically. We discovered a long history of employees “doing what they were told” to do and asking the same questions repeatedly. At some point, the culture had learned to stop thinking long term or taking the risk to solve problems in innovative ways. Both of these cultural habits blocked strategic thinking.
Thinking and behaving strategically became one of the strategies used to meet the overall goal of increasing sales. We conducted training on strategic thinking and discussed what that meant to company. Employees began to see the value of strategy and were enthusiastic about learning to think and work differently. We also identified behaviors that would show the leader and employees that their think and actions had become less tactical. Finally, we architected the strategic planning teams based on areas of expertise to maximize flow of productivity, knowledge and to increase innovation and risk-taking.
As a result, this company moved forward with successfully developing and implementing their five year strategic plan and shifted their cultural values to include long term thinking, planning ahead and finding permanent solutions to important problems. The company supported the CEO to carry out the five year strategic plan to boost sales and increase sales.