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What happened to the Plan ?

Posted by Philip Smith on 14 January 2018

We no longer need a plan, we need a Strategic Strategy to define our Strategic Strategy Initiative to achieve our Strategic Objectives !!!.....yadayadayada 

As can be seen in the sign below, who on earth would want a Development opportunity, when one could have a Strategic Development opportunity?



There was a time when all we needed was a plan, a clear objective and some skilled people, to successfully complete projects.

Nowadays we need a Strategy followed by a Strategic Plan.

To define this strategy we need a Strategy Committee, Strategic advisors, Strategy Consultants, Strategic co-ordinators and many more..... 

If we are lucky we end up with a Strategic "direction" or a draft  "pre-decisional report" requiring a raft of new disciplines and many meetings and reports to create a Strategy that is aligned with our Strategic "direction" to reach the interim Strategic Plan. Read here

When, in this environment, a real project gets underway ( ICT that is ) the outcomes are likely to be a mess and the likelihood of failure is high, or as it would be explained by some Strategy wonk - "The team lacked the full power to derive the optimum results due to extraordinary complexity encountered during the latter phases of consolidation but the results are still supported by the Benefits Realisation review".  Yea right ! 

A simple question - have we made all this too complicated and do we have experienced people to make decisions based on something more than the latest "fad"?

We need to involve craftsman with experience acquired over years of learning their craft and building their skills. Instead we now frequently have newly minted "bureaucrats or Top Students" with fancy titles, many degrees and no idea or entrenched old "bureaucrats" who never had a clue, waiting out the time to retirement. ( this is in both government and the public sector ).

In fairness there are many talented people of all ages working in organisations, but often their voices can not be heard as they are too far down the ladder or in a position where speaking out can be the end of their career.

Unfortunately the real value of Strategy is lost in the flood of misunderstanding of where Startegy is required and why. It is true that Stratgey is important but like many important issues, it is suffering from over use. 

It appears that mostly failures are ignored with no lessons taken from them, other than to add  a range of new methodologies, processes, procedures, committees, reports and so on, while the failure rates continue at a steady pace !

A recent Federal government report identifies management and procurement incompetence as some of the primary drivers of failed ICT projects. The same report makes no recommendations to overcome this and instead recommends a few more committees for oversight and another review in twelve months. Read Here

A state government minister for Innovation et al launched a new Digital Strategy ( Nov 2017 )  and it is claimed to deliberately not have any timeframe, anticipated outcome or budget. Group hug everybody and then we can all sing kumbaja.  Read Here

Even Mr. Turnbull's "Innovation agenda"  is screwed and compared to a script for Utopia ( this is a common theme) , but hey its only our money ! Read Here

These examples of government disasters are the tip of the iceberg, indicative of their "expertise" and considering the Federal government alone spends around $ 60 Bil each year on procurement, I suspect we are in deep trouble having to continue funding a bloated bureaucracy with disastrous outcomes.

Governance structures, metaphorically speaking, conform to the old medieval castle structure, complete with drawbridge and moat. Those on the inside are unable or unwilling to listen to any information not emanating from inside the castle walls.

From a business perspective the quest is to get a "stall" inside the castle walls, as that is the first requirement to becoming the indispensable oracle on any one service or product.

There never appears to be a problem beyond the ability or capacity of the "stallholders" that cannot be fixed by another investigation or report, resulting in more assignments and dollars to the "stallholders".

The downside is that in all groupthink, reality becomes based on a specifically defined range of solutions, and there is no mechanism to listen to any advice from outside the castle walls.

Unfortunately many organisations in the private sector are no better. Read here for a few examples

There are experts who would explain this problem in simple but clear terms, Read what MICHAEL E. PORTER says about strategy. 

There are solutions and they are remarkably simple but -

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow- witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him" - Leo Tolstoy



Philip SmithAuthor:Philip Smith
About: Philip specialises in getting projects and businesses that are not performing as well as expected, back on track.
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