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Message from the CEO

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There is certainly a lot of uncertainty expressed by political and business leaders about the direction in which the country is heading. It is certain the election will have a dramatic impact in countless areas of business (and life). Taxes, technology, regulations, and healthcare are a few areas that may be significantly affected by a variety of election outcomes.

If executives feel confident, most will make decisions and take action.

If not, many may put efforts on hold in favor of a “wait and see” approach.

Often, however, there is as much danger in not making plans as there is in having plans go awry. We’ve been involved in more than a few strategic planning sessions for EKS&H, organizations we support, and clients we serve. During that time, we’ve observed a few keys to successful strategic planning:

  • Scenario Planning – One very effective method is scenario planning, which is asking the “What if” questions. While many find this strategic exercise remarkably difficult, the outcome of expanding your thinking, asking the right questions, and preparing for the unexpected is hugely valuable. McKinsey recently reported on Five DOs and DON’Ts of scenario planning.
  • Flexibility – You can’t plan for everything. We’ve watched businesses and organizations put in the hard work to develop a strong, strategic plan, only to scrap it when unexpected internal and external issues change the reality. To be truly strategic, plans must be appropriately adaptable for future developments. (Scenario planning can help with this!)
  • Engagement – An effective planning process must also involve the right people—not a small senior group. Including financial, technology, HR, and sales/marketing leaders can provide valuable insight into issues, challenges, and opportunities that may not be fully understood by top executives. Additionally, expanding the planning team promotes organizational buy-in when the time comes for strategy execution.
  • Simplicity – Elon Musk recently wrote that his first master plan for Tesla basically consisted of four steps. With $11 billion worth of reservations made earlier this year for the Model 3 (before he has even built one), I would say it’s been a pretty successful strategy. Too often, management gets caught in the strategic planning version of “analysis paralysis.” While specific tactics need to be properly detailed and supported, the strategic plan should have a limited number of initiatives and be understood by every stakeholder in the organization.

At EKS&H, our current five-year strategic plan has nine elements. And while our plan cannot account for all uncertainty, we believe we’ve appropriately prepared for most changes and developments.

If you’d like assistance with strategic planning for your business, please don’t hesitate to let your EKS&H contact know – we’d be glad to help.

Sincerely,

Bob Hottman