Ali Palmer, Vice President of EMIAli Palmer, Vice President of EMI, recently sat down with Harvard Business School’s Dr. Hise Gibson to discuss the importance of strategy and strategic planning. Dr. Gibson, is a Senior Lecturer of Business Administration and Professor of Technology and Operations Management, had this to say:

“Strategy…is the guiding light of an organization. It spells out the overarching mission in concise terms, allowing the company to move productively in the same direction – oriented on its North Star.”

“Strategic planning, however, is how leaders operationalize this strategy,” Gibson continues. Through the leaders’ guidance and overseeing the components of an operational design – Ends (Goals & Objectives), Ways (Tactics & Techniques), and Means (Tools & Resources), teams can advance the mission and are more able to effectively and efficiently use activities and tasks to fulfill the company’s strategy.

With 20+ years in the Army as an aviator, combat officer, and battalion commander, Dr. Gibson’s experience informs three key components that make up healthy Strategic Planning:

  1. the smart development and implementation of PPT (People-Process-Technology); 
  2. consideration of the current and potential future market environments with PPT in mind; and 
  3. planned and measurable activities that all support the company’s goals. In all functional categories of the organization (e.g. HR, Operations Management, Sales & Marketing, Business Development, IT, etc.), activities must be integrated and have a system of disciplined measurement. 

In this manner, they can be executed with efficiency and become part of the company’s institutional fabric. Referring to the challenges of post-pandemic work, Gibson says that “it’s impossible to go ‘back to the future’ with COVID; it is a reality, and we must now adapt.”

He believes that pre-COVID, companies were successful with employee teams that needed to adjust to the leader’s style and preferences. Now, we have a 180-degree change, where leaders need to adapt to the preferences and capabilities/comforts of the employees while maintaining the right focus on profitability, operational excellence, and growth during the strategic planning process. For companies to lead effective Strategic Planning, they must have clearly established norms & priorities, functional integration, well-organized resource utilization and ultimately, the ability to create and implement their true “North Star.”