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Get ready to realize your dream2017/07/14

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Before you formulate the strategy for an alternate path, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and build a business case for change.

By Dr. Santhi Kanoktanaporn

You decided to make a trip to Japan during the April 2018 sakura (cherry blossom) season and researched all possible information about the likely full-bloom dates. Now it’s important to plan the route and major stopover points and reserve a hotel that will meet your travel needs for the upcoming journey.

You know that Japan has abundant scenic mountain and lakeside trekking paths that add to the joy of cherry blossom viewing. However, before you decide to include them in the itinerary, you may want to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as a solo traveler and hiker. Or you may also want to consider visiting some of the fantastic golf ranges near Tokyo.

Teamwork meeting conceptThe fifth phase of the APO Strategy Development Approach is like planning that trip: we need to formulate an integrated organizational strategy as the potential pathway to our pole position, as defined after the “explore” phase. As I explained in the previous post, the fourth phase will help develop and explore alternate ways to deal with the plausible future environment. It also involves opportunity-versus-threat analysis based on the contextual environment and the main issues to be addressed in the strategy planning phase.

During the strategy formulation stage, the APO and member economies will be able to decide on the alternatives to be pursued for achieving the dream scenario visualized in the “anticipate” phase. This includes redesigning the business model that will best serve the purpose. Hence, it is important that during this phase we address the three vital questions of “who,” “what,” and “how.”

While the answer to “who” defines our stakeholders or customers, the opportunity should also be used to decide who will lead the initiative internally. In other words, “who” also assigns the internal responsibilities for driving change.

It is also important to define “what the stakeholders value” and “how we can deliver value to stakeholders.” All three questions need to be answered against the backdrop of the big-picture or the scenario we want to achieve. The phase should also be used to build a business-use case for the change using “from-to” analysis by mapping the “who,” “what,” and “how” questions against the value proposition defined during the “assess” phase. This will help understand the gap between what the organization can currently offer and what it needs to deliver to meet future requirements. For a strategy to succeed, an action plan to bridge this gap must be prepared.

While the explore phase included analysis of the opportunities and threats to create strategic options, during the “formulate” phase we need to evaluate strengths and weaknesses. This, as in case of a traveler planning to go hiking, will help decide the best route and equipment required during the journey.

As in the explore phase, when alternate pathways to achieve the future scenario are selected based on threat-and-opportunity analysis, it is essential to map different business models and deliberate on options that can best leverage our inherent strengths. Similarly, weaknesses and their impact on various business model options should be analyzed. This is also a perfect opportunity to decide how to overcome those weaknesses. The process will stand us in good stead during the “implementation phase” and help avoid surprises.

Put simply, the formulate phase should focus on deciding what the organization needs to do to address its strategic issues after considering the contextual environment and available resources, including skill sets and constraints.

Once the strategy is decided, it is time to move on to the execution phase and act to make the change a reality.

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