Strategic Planning

I love planning. Absolutely, love it. I don’t think I realized how much I enjoyed planning until more recently as my job responsibilities have changed. I enjoy looking into the future to create vision and devising plans on how to achieve that vision. Thinking through the details, all the angles, all the possibilities. It excites me.

I guess I should have realized this sooner and worked to leverage that side of who I am. Even as a youngster the signs were there. Learning to play chess and enjoying the complex strategy needed to win. Visualizing what moves your opponent would make and what your options would be. Some matches even able to predict 7-10 moves ahead what my opponent would be doing. Other areas where planning tendencies manifested included putting together neighborhood fishing, basketball, and football tournaments.

In June, I transitioned from CIO to COO. My new set of responsibilities include Strategic Planning, PMO, and Internal Communications. While I’ve lead Strategic Planning for many of our Ramsey Solution digital efforts over the past 15 years, I’m now leading the company’s entire strategic planning efforts, and it is a challenge.

I’m excited about the progress we’ve made this year in developing some process and structure around our top level planning. In the past, we have been a bottom up very entrepreneurial culture. While we are still maintaining that very entrepreneurial bent, we are balancing it with some top level direction that connects our many businesses and products in a stronger way. With this change, we hope to reach even more people and impact their lives.

As I’ve reached out to other leaders at companies of all sizes, it has been interesting to discover how many companies don’t do any top level strategic planning. I’ve been asked several times from companies smaller than ours to several times larger than us, “are you getting any value out of strategic planning? What are you doing?”

For those of you who are interested, here a few of the resources that are influencing our strategic planning efforts.

Patterson’s StratOp Process

Traction – EOS (Entreprenuerial Operating System) by Gino Wickman

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The Rockerfeller Habits by Verne Harnish
Additional Resources

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Strategic Planning and Innovation Summit


5 thoughts on “Strategic Planning

  1. Tony,

    I have been through a number of strategic planning sessions with Keith McFarland author of the Breakthrough Company ( ). He focuses on how small but successful entrepreneurial companies handle their rapid growth and transition to enterprise organizations…thus “breaking through”. It is an interesting problem because, as I am sure you are more aware than I, the skills that got the company to where it is are not necessarily the skills that they will need to transition to a larger full-fledged organization.

    I have worked for two such companies. One made it and the other still flounders. The comparison is interesting. So many things have to change and it is not easy. The biggest issues I have seen personally fall under the categories of hiring, culture, communication, process, and focus:

    1) Unbalanced hiring. We hired too fast in one department but did not ramp up proportionally in adjacent departments. (e.g. too many engineers and not enough product managers)
    2) Too rapid hiring. Typically when we were ready to hire it was because the backlog was so large “we needed people now” and rushed the process. I’d rather not hire at all than just fill a seat with a warm body.

    Breakdown in communication. Growth in numbers increases the number of communication channels exponentially. With the growth in numbers we continued communicating in the same ways we always did. The message started getting lost because our methods had not scaled. Chaos followed because everybody was running off in their own direction

    The application develop life cycle changes as number of staff and customer base grows. When we were small we could coordinate very easily but as we grew it required much better coordination. Also, the cost of system outages became much more pronounced since more people were relying on the system being up. Both development and deployment processes had to change to meet the new needs but we were slow to adjust.
    Culture and Vision
    Dilution of culture and vision. As we brought on lots of new staff we also brought on lots of new opinions and habits all of which were uniformed by the organization’s history. We did not have a plan for on-boarding these new hires and getting them up to speed.

    Poor focus. The increased budget and staffing levels resulted in unfocused project spending. We no longer had to focus on what was most important. Rather than lasering in on key result areas we spread our energies across a hundred different projects and ended up getting less done than we previously did with fewer people.

    If you blog more on this topic I would be interested in hearing how you have been handling these issues yourself.

  2. Hey Tony – just came across your blog and wanted to say thank you! It’s cool to hear how you’re enjoying using the Paterson StratOp process. We at the Paterson Center are honored you guys use it – the Ramsey team make such an awesome impact in the world, and it’s cool to be a help to that. Wishing you every success in your new role and hope we get to meet at some point. Cheers! David (President at Paterson Center)

  3. Thanks David. Sorry I didn’t see this post sooner! Can’t believe I missed it. We should connect sometime.

  4. Thanks William. Those are all real problems in organizations and we experienced them too. I would put communication and the transition to operational processes near the to of the importance list just behind vision and culture. Small startup companies usually don’t have any processes. As a company grows, it’s important to create processes to help with repeatability and scalability of the organization.

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