Agile Strategic Planning
Is there a compelling in your organization to change to an agile strategic planning approach?
Various studies outline a myriad of reasons for strategic planning failures. Surveys results suggest:
When you look closely at the top long-term performing companies in any industry, you find outstanding strategic management systems (ability to develop strategies, plans and implement those). However, the frustration level with strategic planning processes, regardless of the strategic planning maturity of the company, is high. Eric D. Beinhocker & Sarah Kaplan report in McKinsey Quarterly:
Senior executives generally agree that crafting strategy is one of the most important parts of their job. As a result, most companies invest significant time and effort in a formal, annual strategic-planning process that typically culminates in a series of business unit and corporate strategy reviews with the CEO and the top management team. Yet the extraordinary reality is that few executives think this time-consuming process pays off, and many CEOs complain that their strategic-planning process yields few new ideas and is often fraught with politics.
Why the mismatch between effort and result? Some claim that the annual strategy review frequently amounts to little more than a stage on which business unit leaders present warmed-over updates of last year’s presentations, take few risks in broaching new ideas, and strive above all to avoid embarrassment… One executive told us. “There is a lot of dancing, waving of feathers, and beating of drums. No one is exactly sure why we do it, but there is an almost mystical hope that something good will come out of it.”
Why has strategic planning become in too many cases become so bureaucratic, inflexible, and unproductive? Could an agile strategic planning approach be of help to your organization?
There are considerable similarities between software development and strategic planning. Opportunities for breakthrough improvements in both worlds are enormous. Both require a vision of the future, however, the specifics of how to exactly achieve the vision are generally fuzzy. Both processes require inordinate amounts of time in planning, communicating and achieving buy-in.
The failure rates of software projects are high. A Standish group reported that:
The reasons that IT projects struggle according to survey results reported by Standish group include:
IBM reports that the top best practice in software development is:
Development process – It is important to choose the appropriate development lifecycle process to the project at hand because all other activities are derived from the process. For most modern software development projects, some kind of spiral-based methodology is used over a waterfall process…
Agile development encompasses the different spiral-based development methods. According to several surveys over the last nine years, Agile has led to higher software productivity improvement, cost reductions, and reduced development time-frames. Moreover, the claimed adoption rate of agile development rates is high. The question today isn’t do agile methods work, but rather what are agile best practices and how do we apply them effectively?
So what is agile, and how could agile strategic planning help you?
IBM describes agile development as:
a collaborative, incremental, and iterative approach to software development that can produce high-quality software in a cost effective and timely manner. Unlike traditional software development, agile development emphasizes flexibility, continuous testing and integration, and rapid delivery of functionality.
Agile practices include: