Is Your Company Strategy "Customer" Engaged?

Much is said about strategic planning and the role it plays in directing company activity. However, do all strategic planning processes result in an engagement of company resources toward the right activities to meet customer needs? I have been party to a number of strategic planning engagements where the initial intent was to develop a plan based upon internal knowledge (“they knew”) of what the customer wanted. Steering the process to be customer focused changed the tone and focus of the process and what priorities were eventually used in making decisions to deploy company resources.

The entry point to an effective planning process is market or customer data, needs, requirements, etc. that should reflect a variety of factors that influence short and long term buying behavior. In collecting and considering this valuable input are biases recognized that may be present in the process? Have filters been created which discard valuable perspectives and feedback that may challenge current capability, competency and internal preferences.

Validating the beginning point to the strategic planning process is essential to having an engaged strategy. This adds to the front end work of the process but unless the a good “unbiased” analysis is made of what is driving the customer in their markets and how that will ripple down to purchasing your services you a re likely to have a strategic planning misfire.

Absorbing good customer input may be difficult as it may question the existence of lines of business, business practices and product technology that all have their internal, highly influential, champions. Effective company leadership will call into question whether the strategic planning process is aligning resources and actions toward changing customer needs or whether internal forces are active resisting and defending current direction and practices.

Changes in the marketplace will often impose demanding changes to current business direction. An organization staffed with people prepared to make the necessary adjustments to what they are doing to meet customer requirements will be highly competitive. Effectively responding to customer demands will create business opportunities.

Make sure that your strategic planning process is engaged with the customer!

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