FINANCIAL DISTRICT: Never Mind About Plan B. Do You Have a Plan A?
S+ra+egy: do you have one?
Planning is vital to compete in this construction market
By Brian Moore
hen FMI asked contractors what they
thought about long-range planning
in the face of the 2009 recession
many of the answers were bleak.
Although most everyone was concerned
with survival — often referred to as “hunkering
down” — at that point, there were also those who
affirmed the benefits of long-range and shortrange planning.
Given the outlook today, what will your strategy be five to 10 years from now, or even over
the next three years?
Hope is Not a Strategy
These days, we often hear people say they hope
business will get better. Who doesn’t? However,
I am not an advocate for sitting by and hoping.
I have learned that many firms have a strategic
plan but no real strategy. We often say, “your firm
is perfectly designed to get your current results,”
but consider the potential benefits of focusing
like a laser on just one strategy — ensuring excellence in your operations. It is a low-risk strategy
with high rewards. Here are a few things to think
about when beginning the strategic reinvention
Identify where and why the game has changed
for you, and review your capabilities:
Examine what you should be doing to create an organization that is sustainable in good
times as well as the inevitable bad times.
ten in the interim,
an organization. Purpose adds depth, richness
and direction to strategic action.
5. Innovation. The fragmented nature of the
construction industry and a generally shared
belief that construction is fundamentally a tactical business limit the infusion of innovation
as a competitive advantage. Strategic thinkers
practice the ability to reframe their perspective
to look at systems, processes and markets in a
of an organization.
derstanding of the context in which the company
the same thing. However, they are two different
but complementary processes, and both can be
learned and put to effective use. Briefly, here are
Traditional strategic planning tends to be:
(an action plan),
Strategic thinkers practice the ability to reframe
their perspective to look at systems, processes
and markets in a unique way.
Strategic thinking is:
seeing the world,
als’ ability to identify both opportunity and
Strategic thinking is not hard to describe, and
some of the keys elements include:
1. Vision. The ability to envision a future is a fundamental skill of strategic thinkers. Without it,
leaders are purely opportunistic and reactive.
2. Pattern recognition. Strategic thinkers must
be trend spotters, able to recognize patterns
that emerge in social, political, economic and
technological change. This ability to “connect
the dots” among seemingly unrelated trends,
think through the implications for the busi-
to changing context or economy.
to leverage their individual contributions.
Strategic Thinking for Better Strategy
For some senior executives, their own thoughts
about strategy are inextricably linked to the firm’s
strategy — even if that strategy is not written into
a formal plan and shared with others. It is easy
to see strategic thinking and strategic planning as
36 April 2012 Better Roads
operates. One of the first steps is to prepare the
background information to define your company’s environment. Before you can understand
where opportunity exists, you must fully understand the 4Cs of context:
essential to strategic thinking.
3. Seeing risk. A key component of strategic
thinking is the ability to take a clear-eyed, realistic view of an organization’s risk profile. Strategic thinkers have a constant, restless sense of
low-level paranoia that drives them constantly
to test their assumptions and beliefs about the
risk of the business.
tioned ability of strategic thinking is the capacity to create a unifying sense of purpose in
The 4Cs of Context:
Climate: All the external factors and forces
that influence your business, e.g., economic
forecasts, surety capacity, commodity prices,
ers, e.g., changes in buying behavior, unmet
needs, drivers of their business and industry.
gressiveness, pricing patterns, key staff changes, etc.
e.g., strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, resources, key differentiators.
I have often found that many executives in a
firm believe they have a pretty good understanding of the 4Cs for their firm off the top of their
heads. However, with deeper research and discussion, they are often surprised at what they didn’t
know or didn’t think about that might impact
Brian Moore is principal with FMI, management consultants and
focuses on consulting with contractors and construction materials
producers Contact: 919-785-9269; email@example.com.