I have been interested in strategy, both at a conceptual level and as a practitioner, since the late 1960s when I was studying for my MBA at the Schulich School of Business and at the same time learning to be a President. There was a transition under way from talking about long-range planning to thinking about strategy. The sorry reputation of the five year plan still provides an excuse for many small business owners to avoid any type of planning.
Many core conceptual frameworks of strategy were emerging. One of the early leaders in this field was Arthur D. Little, Inc. which developed a rigorous ‘process’ for strategic planning. I had the opportunity to work with ADL in my next role as a Manager of Corporate Development in a conglomerate. I learned about facilitation in the workshops, and applied the lessons learned to managing the development of strategic plans in that role and for many and varied businesses since.
I am struck by how robust this process is. I have been a volunteer board member for a number of years with the IMC strategic business simulation program for Rotman School Commerce students. Howard Honickman, Adjunct Professor of Management at Rotman, provides the students with a detailed strategic planning workbook that incorporates the same fundamental concepts and processes, of course refined, expanded and updated.
I believe that there are certain principles that must be followed in certain steps in formulating strategy. There are now many different planning models, but some that take shortcuts or just skip important steps. It is my experience that the end result misses something.