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Thriving in a VUCA world with Strategic Business Planning

Written by Timothy Soo (Head of Strategic Planning, Trusted Services)


Sun Zi’s Art of War

The transition for Singapore’s new Prime Minister has been seamless, in stark contrast to many other nations. The global political landscape has and continues to face numerous impending elections with the presidential election in the US being of key interest to nations and corporations across the world. Each election brings with it market implications locally and some globally.

 

Leaders across the globe are pondering questions such as: “What if Trump wins the 2024 election? Will the Israel-Hamas conflict escalate into a regional war? How will global supply chains be affected by potential disruptions? Will climate change severely impact food and water supplies, leading to further conflicts? These underscore the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) nature of our times.


Need for Strategic Business Planning


In the well-read Sun Zi’s “Art of War”, the sage highlighted that it is impossible to predict outcomes with absolute certainty in a VUCA environment. He advocated meticulous preparation and planning, or what we today, in our context, call ‘Strategic Business Planning’ (SBP). Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many leaders viewed SBP as a waste of time. However, the pandemic highlighted its necessity for organisational survival and resilience.

 

Critics of SBP argue that its usage is limited by the unpredictability of future events. Yet, this unpredictability makes collaborative strategic planning even more critical. Navigating in a VUCA environment demands agility, adaptability, creativity, and strategic thinking from the entire leadership team. A well-tuned leadership team, familiar with market trends and patterns, can swiftly regroup and adjust strategies in response to significant changes. The SBP process — encompassing team deliberations on market intelligence analysis, self-evaluation, scenario formulation, strategising, and planning — is more valuable than the plans itself. While strategic direction and plans are dynamic and subject to changes, having a structured approach ensures that everyone in the leadership team is on the same page, facilitating cohesive action and alignment even when the plans are changed.


Strategic Business Planning at Trusted Services


At Trusted Services Pte Ltd (TSV), our SBP process involves comprehensive environmental scanning, understanding customer and competitor landscapes, relevant startups and technological changes. This enables us to identify driving forces behind trends and patterns of change, which helps us develop future scenarios to proactively create solutions.

 

Our scenarios provide a framework for deducing ‘Opportunities and Threats’ (OT), revealing what our clients might face, strategising about the future and allowing us to prepare and position ourselves effectively. Additionally, we conduct honest assessments of our internal capabilities and performance relative to our competitors, identifying our ‘Strengths and Weaknesses’ (SW) versus our competitors in responding to the scenarios. This comprehensive analysis informs our strategic planning and decision-making processes.

 

Effective implementation of strategic plans requires clear assignment of responsibility and accountability, and structured monitoring. Our plans include defined owners, goals, and timelines. During execution, disciplined reporting and monitoring processes, such as quarterly performance reviews are crucial. If goals are not met, root cause analysis and remedial action plans are done and reported.


Strategic Business Planning
Strategic Business Planning

Benefiting from Strategic Business Planning


TSV had gained much from our experience in doing and executing SBP, e.g.,

 

  1. Creation of a common context and narrative for the leadership team to rally behind and navigate and forms an anchor point amidst a rapidly changing landscape.

  2. Formation of an agreement between the Board and the senior management team that crystallises the strategy, and the execution plans to deliver its goals.

  3. Alignment of an organisation’s resources in pursuing its strategic objectives in a defined manner, which can be tracked and changed when necessary.

 

Why it matters


At TSV, our focus is on delighting our clients by anticipating and responding to their evolving needs as we partner them to navigate our dynamic VUCA world. This demands us to have a structured approach that enables our organisation to be aware of its position and to adapt swiftly to changes.

 

While SBP has its limitations and can be time consuming, there is a greater need for the Board, Management and the Organisation to be aligned, agile and adaptable to deliver and exceed the expectations of our clients based on not just today’s requirements, but, more so for their future needs.


Board.Vision – Board of Directors’ invaluable digital assistant for governance and strategic collaboration


The SBP documents contain the organisation's strategy and plans to deliver on client needs and compete in the marketplace. It is critical that these documents are kept securely as records on the agreed plan between management and board. At the same time, they need to be easily accessible to the Board of Directors and the Management to facilitate strategic collaboration. This is where Board.Vision, a secure digital board management solution, can be an invaluable digital assistant for your organisation.

Viewing Strategic Business Planning Document on Board.Vision
Viewing Strategic Business Planning Document on Board.Vision

Board.Vision helps to safeguard company records and provide a ‘centralised & secure system of records’ for board discussion and approval. Board.Vision also secures the information and is securely accessible anytime and anywhere on any devices.

 



 

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