musings of a budding social entrepeneur

Monday, August 31, 2009

Strategy Journal Post #1

Strategy formulation is a thoughtful process, often philosophical. Questions of Management vs. Leadership vs. Strategy arise. Keep a weekly journal (10 total) in which you pose a question you‘ve had about strategy and write several paragraphs exploring the question

In the context of our POL project with http://www.jbei.org, the initial challenge is scope scope scope. We need to identify a decision that jbei is trying to make and develop a strategy plan for determining the answer.

This weekend, strategy was defined by our faculty and a series of panelists. It's one of those amorphous concepts that many define in the context of their own environments and experiences. For some strategy is a process, for others it's an exploration, for others a decision.

I feel my first question to answer is, what is my interpretation of strategy? What does it mean to me? From there, I can apply my definition to the POL. From what I understand, strategy is a process through which decisions are made. To DO strategy is to engage in the process of making decisions. A strategic plan does the following

1) Defines a specific business question to ask, the answer of which supports decisive action.
2) Lays out the framework for decision making around a particular question.
3) Clarifies all inputs (data points and assumptions)
4) Concludes with an answer or set of recommendations for how to proceed given the inputs to the framework

The result of engaging through the process in steps 1-4 is a decision that improves or maintains the integrity and performance of the business.

Gerald Harris defined it as "Decisions which lead to structural or process changes in an organization designed to support further growth or maintain the current positive performance of the organization."

Does my definition gel with Gerald's? Close but not exactly. My definition is a process that leads to a decision. Though the by-product of DOING strategy, could be considered a "Set of decisions which...". Let's look at another definition from Teddy's slides. "Strategy is a creative endeavor"... "decisions about resource allocation, especially time/effort/attention". Again, strategy is decisions.
Jay's scenario planning is one way to engage in the process of making decisions.

Ok, let's bring it back to JBEI. What's the first thing to do in the strategic planning process?

1) Define the question whose answer supports decisive action:
Questions related to resource allocation around certain research activities
Should JBEI model bio ethanol or something else?
Should JBEI cut spending on research of a certain technology?
Should JBEI refocus spending on certain feedstocks?
Should JBEI increase investment in X?
Should JBEI decrease investment in X?
Should JBEI divert funds to biodiesel research?

Questions related to resource allocation around certain financing options:
Should JBEI recommend financing of biorefineries through government bonds?
Should JBEI recommend financing of biorefineries through equity?
Are these really applicable to strategy?

Questions related to onsite discussion:
Should JBEI encourage farmers to switch to growing different feedstocks?


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