The explore phase marks the beginning of the action plans that will lead to identifying the potential pathways to winning.
By Dr. Santhi Kanoktanaporn
The APO Strategy Development Approach, as I explained earlier, is a well thought-out plan we will pursue during the upcoming Strategic Planning Workshop for NPOs in Tokyo. The new approach will allow the APO and member countries to revisit fundamentals and traditional beliefs, as well as review, revise, and recreate a comprehensive picture of the strategic direction needed to create new value for driving productivity growth.
My first three posts on the subject explained in detail the input phases of “define,” “assess,” and “anticipate.” These are important steps in the “end-to-end journey for the creation of strategy,” including the four steps of “explore,” “formulate,” “execute,” and “refresh” that together form the output phase.
While the input phase will enable us to ask the right questions by reviewing the predetermined issues, the assess phase will give member countries “deep insight into the starting position of the APO.” Similarly, the anticipate phase will indicate what the future may unfold by developing scenarios we should plan for.
The explore phase marks the beginning of the action plans that will help identify the potential pathways to winning. The first item on the action agenda in the explore phase is implication analysis of each scenario created during the anticipate phase for the APO to gain perspective on the future. Scenario planning usually involves plotting the two most critical uncertainties derived from the driving forces in graphic form on the x- and y-axes and developing a plausible scenario for each of the four quadrants.
However, it is important to validate the uncertainties to confirm how “challenging” and “plausible” they are, their impact on “divergent” STEEP factors, and “relevance” to the focal question that the organization is addressing. These are also known as the “CPDR” parameters. The focal question, for example, in the case of APO member countries, and based on the APO Roadmap to Achieve Vision 2020, could concern the impact of digital technologies on labor productivity through 2025.
Based on comparative analysis of the four scenarios, we will develop and explore alternate ways to deal with the plausible future environment. This includes identifying strategic opportunities and threats (OT). Outside-of-the-box thinking is critical at this stage to visualize likely prospects arising from the scenarios. In simple terms, it is opportunity-versus-threat analysis based on the contextual environment, except that the situation is based on “anticipated awareness” as defined by the scenarios.
As in planning for any current situation, the explore phase also involves identifying strategic options to deal with OTs. Options to seize opportunities and mitigate threats should be prioritized, along with strategic issues to address in the next phase of formulating a strategic plan. This can be achieved by combining the initial position as in step one or the define phase of the Strategy Development Approach with strategic issues.
This initial position includes predetermined factors, such as key objectives, productivity and technology challenges, capacity-building concerns, and strategic directions and approaches, as well as the roadmap and development framework.
In the APO context, we want to utilize this opportunity to map all our future programs against the scenarios created during the anticipate phase, the strategic goals based on the Vision 2020 document, and the new era of smart industry, smart agriculture, smart services, and smart public sectors, while including member country needs to make the programs more relevant.
The next important steps will be defining the integrated strategy and then executing it.