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Strategy Management for Today’s Turbulent Economy


In the current turbulent economic climate, there may be a tendency to pay less attention to the strategy management process, but perhaps it’s now more important than ever. 

In the past, the time horizons for strategy management have been fairly long term. Strategic plans have often focussed on achieving a vision or goals that are perhaps three to five years away. For commercial organizations, those goals would revolve around achieving growth and success in their market. The value of the strategy management process has been in aligning the organization with that strategic vision and driving execution towards it. 

Given the current economic environment, not surprisingly, many organizations are putting long term strategic planning onto the back burner. Strategy planning is now much more near term. Often, strategic planning horizons have reduced to 12, 6 or perhaps even 3 months. In many industries, the key goals have shifted from growth to increased efficiencies, reduced costs and better value for customers. As economic events unfold, goals and targets are being refined, perhaps on a monthly basis. It’s just as important for the organization to execute against these shorter term strategies, as it previously was to execute against the longer term strategies. 

The bottom line is that organizations are being more agile in their strategy formulation, so to close the loop they must be more agile in their strategy execution.  

This tends to reinforce the need for a solid strategy management process. If strategy is changing, it’s important to have a good mechanism to communicate and explain those changes to everyone in the organization. Similarly, if goals and targets are frequently being refined, it’s important that these are also communicated clearly. 

It is often argued that a fundamental goal of strategy management is to change behaviours within an organization – that is, encouraging people to change the way they work on a day-to-day basis, in order to achieve strategic goals. Those changes in behaviour are equally important for surviving the tough times, as well as thriving in the good times.

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  • Dear Robert,

    Thanks for the blog. Agree with you on significance of Strategy Management processes more so during current economic crisis.

    One of the problems which we often face is that most of the Organization feels that they’re not ready to have a system to do Strategy Management for them and often such processes remain within standalone spreadsheets!





    • This is a great point, and it will be hard to do it justice in a couple of paragraphs – but I’ll touch on a couple of aspects.

      Strategy Management is about aligning people in the organization towards achieving common goals – so the more people that are involved in the process, the better that alignment will be. For many organizations, the intent is that every employee should have access to the Strategy Management system, so that everyone has a clear understanding of strategy and how they can contribute to its execution. A system with this level of visibility and use must contain trustworthy, consistent information – with careful change controls etc. Spreadsheets are not the best tools for this.

      Conversely, some organizations see Strategy Management as an application for a select few Senior Managers and Executives (and therefore see spreadsheets as an appropriate delivery tool). This is a great first step in strategy management, but the overall value is limited. The Senior Managers and Executives are more likely to understand the strategy at the outset anyway; there is greater value to be derived from communicating strategy and achieving alignment at other levels.

      It’s also important to remember that Strategy Management is far more effective when it’s treated as a process. For example, if a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is out of line, the KPI owner can provide insight for others with an explanatory comment. Discussion threads could develop around how to get the KPI back on track, which spawn corrective action plans or initiatives. The action plans can be monitored over time to ensure progress, and to evaluate how effectively they are impacting the KPI. Action plans can be reviewed in hindsight to identify those which were successful, and those which were not. The successful ones may be reusable in other parts of the organization; the unsuccessful ones can be avoided.

      The benefit of a Strategy Management system is that it supports and drives this kind of process. All the components are stored and managed centrally, where they can be easily reviewed and analyzed – rather than dispersed across multiple spreadsheets, e-mail threads, and human minds.

      Best regards