Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Strategic Planning - A Comparison

Studying through the various articles this week, made me realize the importance of the various processes, meetings, training, and talks that I experienced working for Deloitte and a start-up company. The articles made it evident that strategies play a huge role in how a company functions, and also shapes the core culture and beliefs of a company. Since I worked in both these scenarios, I would like to reflect on my experiences and draw a few comparisons on how strategies are planned.

As a new graduate and a campus hire, Deloitte gave the right platform to experience challenging information technology problems in an environment that fostered integrity and commitment to the team and the clients. These values were supported by the belief that workplace diversity is a core strategy for success. I believe, Deloitte has a strategy to solve complex problems for their clients using the concept of multidimensional thinking which stems from people of different cultures and thinking styles. That being said, Deloitte being a company of huge proportions cannot involve every employee in its strategic discussions. The organization model plays a very important role in defining how the employees are engaged when it comes to building a company strategy. Being majorly in the technology services, I noticed that strategy was planned and executed by a core team of strategy experts in close conjunction with partners and directors. This kind of a planning exercise cannot be strictly classified into any of the “Strategic Styles” mentioned in the article by Martin Reeves, Claire Love, and Philipp Tillmanns - Your Strategy Needs a Strategy. It has flavors of both a “Classical” and “Adaptive” styles. In the IT services space, predictability is quite high owing to the many legacy systems for which services have to be provided. But, the malleability factor is quite low as major over-hauling of such systems take time. These factors decided the strategic planning exercises.

On the other hand, I experienced a radical change in culture and processes in the start-up. As a company which aimed to disrupt the pharmacy retail business, the strategy planning and decision making were very different. Strategy planning process was taken seriously and its importance was reinforced when we had to explain to our investors — “why we are doing what we are doing ?” The pharmacy retail space was very difficult to predict and since the competition was very high, new players could come and disrupt heath care industry. In retrospect, our strategy plan did loosely resemble the “Shaping” style. The entry barriers were low which required our strategy to account for having a high rate of innovation. I could notice a drastic difference when we had short, continuous planning cycles for adapting and shaping new strategies. We had flexible plans to account for the change in the market, investor requirements and legal requirements. 

The real challenge was in the hands-on approach with regard to strategy scope and process. Unlike Deloitte, which had a wide base of interests in technology services, a product based start-up required us to plan for basic questions of new uses for technology, customer interaction, and competitor analysis. Investors also had a say with the kind of strategy we planned for. The strategy we finally adopted - “A Cockroach” (versus the “Unicorn”) gave us good results with better customer retention and high growth figures.

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