On My Mind: Strategic Management

Recently, I had the chance to sit in on a strategic management session for one of PF's sister magazines.

Recently, I had the chance to sit in on a strategic management session for one of PF's sister magazines. The process really challenged the staff of the other magazine to critically evaluate everything that they do.

Whether your company has been through a formal process or not, it is operating based on some strategy. Hopefully, that strategy is well understood by everyone in your company. If it's not, you might want to consider a strategic management process like the one I sat in on. Here's how it worked.

The first step is to define the current strategy, which consists of the goal, target market, competitive advantages, growth direction, driving force (are you customer oriented or product oriented), and competitive strategy (do you only powder coat or do you perform a number of finishing processes).

Once you have defined the current strategy, you need to list the key functionalities that help you execute the strategy and meet the goal. For a finisher, these key functionalities might be painting, quality control, customer service, engineering and sales/marketing.

After you have defined what you are currently doing, it is time to go back and re-examine your goal. The goal you set should be the outcome that everyone desires, and it should be one that can be measured in some manner.

Now that you have a new goal, what changes need to be made to the current strategy so that you can meet the new goal? Perhaps you need a greater emphasis on customer service or to improve your finishing technology.

Then comes the most important part of the process-what assumptions have you made during any part of this process that will affect the strategy you use to reach your goal? Once you have stated the assumptions, you will have to assign individuals the task of determining whether your assumption was correct or not. Do you really provide the highest quality plating? Do people really believe you are experts in the field?

If you decide to go through a process such as this, I suggest you do two things. One, bring in a facilitator that has expertise in strategic management to keep you focused. Two, recruit one or two people from outside your company that have knowledge of your industry to participate. They will provide an interesting perspective on what you're doing and help define the critical assumptions that you have made