There are a lot of great (and no so great might we add) opinions out there on the topic of strategy and related matters. We happen to have a few opinions of our own as well and will every now and then happily share those with you.

{jcomments on}As part of our Strategic Plan Sample&Review series we will have a look at the recently released  icon Strategic Plan of the Island Trust in British Columbia, Canada.
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The Islands Trust is a land use and planning agency - created by the province of British Columbia - to preserve and protect the trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the trust area and of the province generally, in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, other persons and organizations and the Government of British Columbia.
The Trust Council is responsible to provide strategic direction for the duration of it's elected term. The term of the current council is from November 2011 until November 2014. The strategic plan for the same period was released in September of 2012 after review and public consultation.
The plan is 12 pages long and divided into three distinct parts being:
We will briefly review each section and then end with a short summary of likes and dislikes.

Introduction and high-level objectives

This section of one page length. gives a short outline of the Trust area and the role the Trust Council plays in the governance of the Trust. These first two sections are the same as for the previous plan.
The third section of this part is a listing of the four main focus areas subdivided each with objectives and strategies. Each of the strategies is worded in an active way starting with a verb. We like that.
We miss the reason behind each of the four focus areas. In other words, why focus on those, what is the expected benefit for the trust?

Detailed overview of objectives, activities and success measures

The next 9 pages are used for a detailed breakdown of each of the focus areas. The form that is used is a landscape table with the following headings:
    2012-10-13 11-16-05
  • STATUS (Italics indicate status change since last TC meeting)
The objective and strategies are the same as on page one.
In the activities and phases column the phases are identified by fiscal year. The activities are for the most part described in an active way with a verb and an expected output.
We don't like the title of the next column "Who would work on it" for the simple reason that the word would implies a certain level of uncertainty. We understand why they might has chosen would over will as a more polite way of saying it but we think in these kind of directional documents a more direct way of saying things is better.
We like the inclusion of a funding column as it clearly gives an indication, albeit small, of the likelihood of the activities actually being executed.
The success measure column is excellent as it provides focus for the activity owners. However, some of the measures are not very specific and may need shoring up. For example, one of the activities for strategy 1.6 is "Trustee workshop about protection of special areas". The associated measure is "By whether a trustee workshop has been held". This seems circular. Better is to outline the objectives of the workshop and include those as a measure in the success column.
The status column is great as it appears that the status of the strategic plan will be reviewed/presented during the quarterly council meetings.

Strategic Planning Process Diagram (2012-2013)

2012-10-10 09-29-09This diagram is a simple one page circular block diagram outlining the sequence of events in developing the plan and the related budgets. Although there is mention of the achievement of some objective and the quarterly measurement of success we mis a more robust approach of strategic plan control and alignment.
There is no mention of the previous plan and its success (or lack thereof) and how the current plan relates to the previous plan. At least acknowledge what was  and was not achieved and how the new plan builds on that or departs from that.

In conclusion

What we liked:
  • Concise well written
  • Use of active words
  • Use a measures
What we did not like:
  • Lack of benefit statement (the why)
  • Use of non-specific measures
  • No link with previous plan (only as reference document on web-page)
All in all an excellent plan with enough detail to make things happen.

Under-CoverWe all know that an integral part of the strategic planning and realization process is having/getting a good understanding of what's going on in the organization.

As we also know there are multiple ways of doing that.
In 2009 a new TV-series called "undercover Boss" was introduced that gives a whole new meaning to the term fact finding. Basically it shows an executive going undercover as a worker for a week in her/his own company. Usually there are big eye opening moments and at the end of the week the executive sheds the disguise and shares her/his lessons-learned with his executive team and the employees she/he worked with during the week.

What do you think of going undercover to uncover? Please let us and the growing number of readers of this know what you think by casting your vote on the right.

{jcomments on}You can leave a comment below.

Why indeed?

Because whether you like it or not, you have one. Some may argue that:

"In a world where change is the only constant having a strategy is a necessity"

I would rephrase that by:

"In a world where change is the only constant all organizations have a strategy"

The question is not whether you should have a strategy but rather whether you know your strategy and are in control of it.

And those are the two big strategy questions:

1 Do you know your strategy?

2 Are you in control of your strategy?


If you are able to say yes to both that's great. In that case you could stop reading here. Please don't though! We would really like to hear from you how you do that. Use the comment section below to share your approach with the other readers.

If you can't answer both questions or maybe only question 1 let's see if we can give you some insight in how to get to two yesses. By the way, saying yes to question 2 implies by definition saying yes to question 1 as well.

{jcomments on}

Next time I will address the first question: Do you know your strategy?

I will tell you how to find out, even if you have never done any strategic planning at all, how to still determine what your current - yet implicit - strategy is.

I will give you some ideas how to establish a strategy.

Once that is done the real fun stuff begins (and it never ends!), getting and staying in control of your strategy.

Let's look at two recent quotes we found in the media:

"Here's the screw up: You made a promise that you'd deliver this and you missed three weeks later,"

"You've got to believe in Dave. Dave has a plan. Dave knows. You've got to believe in the plan."

The first one was recently made by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. The second one was made over a year ago by  Francesco Aquilini, owner of the National Hockey team the Vancouver Canucks, during an informal conversation with the newspaper The Vancouver Sun.

What makes these remarks so interesting is the current context in which we can reflect on them.

First of all, a few days ago Aqulini fired th man he referred to in his comment, Dave Nonis. Apparently he did not believe in the plan anymore. Aqulini said that the reason for firing Nonis was that the team had missed the playoffs.

Secondly, GE had just reported an unexpeted loss. About a month ago Welch's successor had actualy told the world that GE would hit its mark.