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"Strategy As We Knew It Is Dead."

...says Walt Shill, head of North American management consulting practice for Accenture Ltd.

The "Managing" column in today's Wall Street Journal describes the economy's impact on corporate strategic planning processes. Maybe the key phrase there is "...as we knew it..."

Out: rigid calendars, static three-year plans and quarterly updates.

In: flexibility, accelerated decision-making, 'adaptive' strategy, scenario-testing, war rooms and opportunism.

Office Depot began updating its budget every month after quarterly reviews left leaders slow to react to changing customer needs.

Retailer J.C. Penney put its entire strategy on hold in favor of a "bridge" plan, delaying some efforts and speeding up others. Penney's CEO 'Mike' Ullman III credits the plan with improving margins and helping the company avoid layoffs. Now he's reviewing the 2007 plan's "relevance" and whether it should be revived. Wanna bet?

Historically, appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. considered demand scenarios based on 5% swings up or down. Now it's 15%.

Yet how much do you really "know" about strategy if it took an economic crash of historic proportions to convince you to build speed and adaptability into your planning process? I guess the answer to that question is why consultants at McKinsey & Co. see a huge uptick in demand for their services.


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