Dr James A Robertson
Would you like to have a clear view of the Critical Issues facing your company in a manner that enables an instant improvement in understanding and decision making?
Would you like to be able to develop a robust short or long-term plan that strengthens the strategic essence of your business?
Would you like that plan to be highly structured, prioritized on the basis of your Critical Factors and with the final plan directly traced back to the original analysis undertaken by the Executive Team?
Would you like a concise and effective process that allows you to quickly arrive at such a plan and move to implementation within weeks?
We offer a two-day Critical Issues based Strategic Executive (StratSnap©) Workshop preceded by one day of Executive Interviews that will lay the foundation for a comprehensive tactical short term or strategic long term planning process and give you clarity regarding key issues in the current climate.
We can deliver this service remotely with Zoom or Skype anywhere in the world.
Please see below for more information and click here to schedule a one-hour telephone, Zoom or Skype call to further discuss how we can assist you right now.
I make some strong claims for the Pulse Measurement© — this section seeks to answer some questions you might have:
How can you claim to deliver a reliable diagnosis in such a short space of time? – We have been battling with this problem for months / years?
Answer: The simple answer is that I have been doing diagnostic Pulse Measurement© for very many years and I have done this a very large number of times for a wide diversity of industries, systems and problems. So, in the same way as when you consult a Medical Doctor I listen for key words that point to the diagnosis and I have such diverse experience of these matters that this points me to the treatment most of the time very quickly.
I still don’t get it, this is MUCH more complex than the average medical condition – it involves all sorts of systems and people!
Answer: The methods I use are based on my engineering training and experience which includes a wide repertoire of problem solving and diagnostic techniques to lead me to an accurate diagnosis and recommended treatment in a short space of time.
But engineers are systematic and methodical and painstaking – how can you produce a reliably result so quickly?!
Answer: Well, YES, there IS another dimension
I was a Regimental Commander with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in our Citizen Force Army (National Guard) and I received in-depth training in methods of Tactical Appreciation (Combat Analysis) at Brigade level (5,000 troops of all disciplines) in the context of high-speed mobile warfare.
This taught me rapid critical issue analysis techniques which enable me to sift through large amounts of information and zoom in on the essence of the situation that point to action very quickly.
Answer: That is true but if you attend one of my briefings or courses you will find that nearly all the factors that give rise to failure of strategic projects relate to psychology, method, strategy, governance, etc which are largely the same no matter what industry, business or technology or plan I am investigating.
I have evaluated an extremely diverse range of businesses over the years, so I am able to easily and rapidly interpolate and extrapolate from these other experiences. My line of inquiry also enables me to understand the critical essence of your business very quickly and very accurately.
Answer: In some cases that may be true but I have experience of a very diverse range of systems so, to the extent that I may not have had exposure to your particular system or combination of systems, I am able to rapidly interpolate and extrapolate from my very diverse systems experience.
I also have a solid fundamental first principles understanding of how organizations work and this enables me to quickly understand the fundamentals of any particular situation. I have been working in this field for a long time.
Answer: Most of the time my findings are very much practical common sense such that often I authoritatively confirm your gut feel and explain it in simple to understand terms such that you will KNOW that I am correct – frequently my findings are just “blinding glimpses of the obvious”.
Knowing what to DO with the finding is of course a separate issue.
Answer: I provide comprehensive high-level advisory services to guide you through the implementation of my recommendations at whatever level of involvement you require
Where required, I am available to take over the leadership of a project in order to achieve the required outcome.
I hope my answers to these questions have helped you to better understand how the Pulse Measurement© works.
The Pulse Measurement REALLY IS that effective and is that TIME AND COST EFFICIENT.
The Pulse Measurement comprises the following:
1) One hour one-on-one interviews with your executive team starting with your CEO to obtain a clear executive problem statement and understand your business;
2) Brief walk-through of the business facilitated by a Business Executive in order to gain insight into the strategic fundamentals of the business (the essence of the business and how it thrives);
3) One on one interviews with key business leaders in your project at various levels as appropriate to the focus of the investigation;
4) Interviews with operational staff and service providers;
5) Review of critical plan elements as appropriate to the focus of the investigation;
6) A structured analysis resulting in a concise structured report.
7) This analysis identifies and prioritizes (weighted ratings) approximately seven “Critical Findings”;
8) Approximately seven prioritized and weighted “Critical Actions” arising from the investigation are proposed;
9) Optionally the report may be followed with a formal presentation or briefing to your executive team and possibly other audiences supported by a diversity of standard slides developed over decades;
10) Optionally I offer a critical issues workshop process to formulate specific response to the findings, such as definition of critical business requirements for a system (new or existing) or development of a critical action plan;
11) Optionally I offer comprehensive advisory services with regard to implementation of my recommendations;
12) I can also be engaged to run a turnaround project.
The Pulse Measurement will give a concise assessment of the health of your Strategic Plan or Strategic Business system or other organizational problem area through a limited scope, limited cost professional intervention that will give you greatly improved understanding of the problem in question and how to resolve it.
The findings are presented in a practical, no nonsense, manner that cuts to the chase in terms of the action required.
The pulse measurement is tailored to your exact requirements and will typically require from one to ten days of my time giving a cost effective, high value, high impact diagnostic intervention.
Over the years I have conducted dozens of Pulse Measurements for organizations of all types and sizes with regard to the full diversity of business systems, ERP’s, etc.
Isn’t it time to take the Pulse of YOUR Strategic Plan or Business Challenge today?
The following is an overview of the characteristics of the StratSnap© process:
Mature process – derived from Professor Malcolm MacDonald’s ExMar process over a number of years. Method and tool stable for many years and used in numerous workshops with diverse focus questions.
The process works with a mixture of private and group work that is highly collaborative and leads to a high level of consensus and common understanding.
The method avoids general discussion – it focusses on Information Harvesting – systematically gathering information from delegates in a highly structured manner that enables a large range of information to be canvassed in a short period of time thereby ensuring optimum utilization of delegates time.
For this reason, it is VITAL that a representative delegate group is present, absence of a key delegate can give rise to gaps in the plan later.
The tool makes use of numerical readings of importance and performance which are presented in a variety of graphs making interpretation of the data easy and facilitating development of understanding and insight into the underlying trends that are revealed by the process. This facilitates quality decision making.
The method is Critical Issues based – it limits delegates to not more than seven factors and the entire facilitation method is geared to ensuring that delegates collaboratively lift out the Critical (Pareto) Issues.
The essential goal of the process is to facilitate the delegate group to lift out those action areas that will give rise to the greatest beneficial impact on the organization.
The method makes use of the metaphor of “views of the mountain” to make it acceptable to express divergent views while at the same time creating the context to enable a consensus to be developed in terms of priorities for future action. Discordant views are identified numerically where they occur in a manner that facilitates sharing and constructive engagement.
The scoring process provides a mechanism to measure performance and the facilitation is designed to minimize the divergence of scores that result from different knowledge and experience sets thereby ensuring maximum reliability in the scores.
The scores provide a concise and effective method of assessing the performance of the organization and identifying gaps to be closed in detailed planning flowing from the SnapShot© process.
The weighted gap measurements ensure that at the end of the process delegates are focused on the aspects that most urgently require attention and provides the foundation for the separate gap analysis (StratGap©) workshop that is recommended as a follow-on to the SnapShot© process.
I hope that this outline has given some idea of the characteristics of the StratSnap© process and gives some idea of why it is such a powerful and effective tool.
Collaborative, consensus building, crystalizes understanding, immediately better decisions, resolves ambiguity, improves Executive Effectiveness, improves competitiveness
Testimonial Summary – Critical Issues Analysis – Paul Leigh April 2020
Testimonial – Critical Factor Analysis – Paul Leigh April 2020
A Strategic Planning method that enables organizations to develop a comprehensive measurable and actionable strategic plan with resource estimates and key performance indicators. This is done in a structured and systematic method that also provides measures of alignment or lack of alignment and provides a basis to facilitate alignment
What is this thing we call strategy?
How do we determine it?
How do we measure it?
How do we analyse it?
How do we translate the above into measurable and actionable plans that produce tangible results?
How do we implement these plans effectively?
This method answers these questions and delivers a practical planning method.
Many years ago I wrote a paper on the importance of aligning Business Information Systems with business strategy — and THEN I found that I could NOT define strategy concisely.
I also found that there were no robust and reliable methods of undertaking Strategic Analysis and Design (also known as Strategic Planning).
So, I set out on two parallel journeys, one to discover a concise and reliable definition of strategy and the other to develop a robust and reliable method of developing measurable and actionable strategic plans. Concurrently with this I also progressed my understanding of the importance of aligning Business Information System Implementations with Strategy and HOW to do this. These two threads have endured throughout my consulting career.
In the process I studied the work of a number of international experts in some detail and finally distilled what I consider to be the essential definition of strategy. I also developed a planning method that met my stringent requirements.
This Webinar discusses the entire process and shares the above findings – it headlines the journey and explains how this definition enables strategists and executives to more concisely and more accurately define this thing called “strategy”.
The presentation will also walk you through the headlines of the process and demonstrate the tool.
If you are wondering how to improve your strategic analysis and design methods or simply to better understand the essence of strategy this video and this method is a MUST.
For more information on Strategic Planning see https://james-a-robertson-and-associates.com/Strategy.aspx
Highly structured, collaborated, collegial amonst Executive Team, highlights gaps in a non-threatening constructive manner, systematic, prioritized, improve competitiveness and improve profitability
Radically increase the strategic and operational business decision support value delivered by your Integrated Business Information System installation by developing a comprehensive precision logical model of your business in the configuration.
Focus particularly on the “Strategic Business Information Architecture” — the content that defines the business ranging from the Item Class / Product Class / Materials Group through to the Chart of Accounts and ALL other attribute and classification tables in between. Do this within the context of a fully integrated business systems CONTENT design.
The following are the essential components of value creation using precision configuration based on Precision Taxonomies:
There are dramatic differences between this method of business systems implementation and the conventional methods.
For more information on Precision Configuration see https://james-a-robertson-and-associates.com/Configure.aspx
For Case Studies on the benefits of Precision Configuration see https://james-a-robertson-and-associates.com/Configure/ConfigCaseStudies.aspx
Very substantially improved ease of use of the system, improved efficiencies, improved effectiveness, reduced administrative head count, greatly improved strategic and operational management information, greatly improved profitability and competitiveness
Once all gaps have been processed in all SnapShots© analysed in the StratGap© process the entire suite of projects and plan actions are collated into a single StratAction© plan for further analysis.
In general, as lower priority gaps and SnapShots© are analysed it is found increasingly that projects or plan actions already arrived at will also close these gaps. Harmonization and grouping of these plan components enables the rationalization of the overall action plan.
The final plan can be traced back directly to the original SnapShot© analysis.
Consolidated assessment of priorities, timelines and particularly Executive and Senior Management time result in reconsideration of deadlines and priorities limiting planned actions to that which can be done within the limitations of those resource constraints.
This is a powerful device for reducing the incidence of failed or overdue projects owing to inadequate resourcing.
Convert to Project Plan
Once the Strategic Action Plan has been optimized the resulting projects are loaded into a Project Management software package and brought into execution mode.
Engineered Multi-Year Strategic Plan that is actionable and measurable and that derives directly from objectives set by the Executives or Senior Managers who participated in the original StratSnap© workshop and identified the high-level actions.
High Value — lasting, profitable, organizational improvement and change.
Profitable — Enables the organization to operate more profitably and more competitively.
The StratSnap process provides the inputs to the StratGap© gap analysis process which is typically undertaken by a group of personnel one level down in the organizational hierarchy from those who undertake the initial ShapShots© – this process allows the organization to translate the outputs of the SnapShot© process into action plans with timelines and resource requirements determined.
There are further extensions to this process.
The following is an overview of the components of the StratGap© process:
The StratGap© process builds on the weighted gap from the StratSnap© process.
Generally, a more senior group undertakes the StratSnap© process and delegates the detailed planning of actions to close the gap to one of the team members plus senior members of staff designated at the end of the StratSnap© workshop.
Delegates individually determine what they think are the most appropriate projects and plan actions to close the selected gap – gaps are analysed one Critical Factor at a time.
As with StratSnap© the individual Critical Projects are captured and then synthesized into a single set of approximately seven projects which are headlined and the headlines carried forward for planning purposes.
The headline timeline and ownership of each project is determined together with the percentage of the gap that each project is expected to close.
Resources are allocated across seven categories starting with Executives and Senior Managers – these two categories are frequently the invisible constraints on strategic and business change projects – a certain level of Executive input is generally vital and is generally the source of delays and compromises when it is not available at the required level.
This step in the process forces planners to think soberly about the level of executive input they require and if this is a constraint then formulate appropriate actions to relax the constraint by delaying certain projects or negotiating greater delegation.
I hope that this outline has given some idea of the components of the StratGap process and gives some idea of why it is such a powerful and effective tool.
Characteristics of the StratGap Strategic Gap Analysis Process
The following is an overview of the characteristics of the StratGap process:
The plan links back to the original Executive level Strategic Snapshot analysis so projects are directly derived from Executive evaluation of issues and priorities.
The critical projects and plan actions approach drives out the activities and projects that will do the most to achieve the desired improvement on a ranked and prioritized basis.
Pragmatic and practical assessment of executive and senior management constraints results in practical plans with realistic deadlines and delegation.
The method provides a systematic and structured means of undertaking the high-level conceptualization of projects and activities.
Provides a mechanism for short, medium- and long-term planning in a way that is sustainable and achievable and if followed through will support a culture of continuous organizational improvement.
Drives through to an overall integrated holistic Strategic Action plan that takes account of high-level considerations in a single worksheet.
I hope that this outline has given some idea of the characteristics of the StratGap process and why it is such a powerful and effective tool.
Collaborative — high levels of buy-in.
Practical — looks at most critical resource constraints
High value — enables the client organization to focus on activities that will generate most value
Actionable – enables the client organization to get on with activities that will deliver most benefit
One of the key differentiators of this process is that it focusses on the Essence of the Business and HOW it THRIVES (Strategy) and ensures that the new system is selected and implemented to support and enhance the Strategic Essence.
The process starts with a Pulse Measurement (see the previous page for more information) followed by a StratSnap© process to crystalize the Critical System requirements (see the next page for more information).
These Strategic Requirements then provide the framework for the entire project.
The Business Requirements document that forms the heart of the Tender document pack is formulated around the Strategic Requirements. This then informs the Bill of Services and the Tender Adjudication Criteria. This in turn filters through to the Precision Configuration of the System to ensure a perfect strategic competitive, operational and tactical fit to the business.
The consequence of this approach is that the entire project and the entire solution fit the ideal end state of the business like a glove resulting in an enduring, high value solution that greatly enhances the profitability and competitiveness of the business.
Please email me to arrange a call to discuss this in more detail.
Strong strategic alignment enhances competitiveness and profitability on a sustained basis.
The only way to prevent many of the almost universal problems with ERP, CRM and other Business Information System procurement, selection and implementation outcomes is to move to a much more rigorous and robust project and contract approach.
I have developed and proven such a method that includes:
1. An extremely robust Request for Proposal document that covers all the bases that Vendors and Implementers typically use to drive change of scope, misrepresentation, etc and results in a robust legally enforceable fixed price contract.
2. Three stage procurement process that allows the client to cast the net as wide as possible and lets the Vendors and Implementers do the work of proving their software can do the job.
3. Moves all the risk that belongs with the Software Vendor and Implementer to them and massively reduces client risk.
4. Balancing terms that govern client behaviour and responsibility.
5. High level strategic (Essence of the Business) business outcome oriented requirements specification which avoids all the incidental and irrelevant items that typically make up a requirements document and completely mask the real issues — these requirements are driven from strategic considerations from the top down with a high level of executive engagement and commitment.
6. A “Bill of Services” approach which is comparable to the “Bill of Materials” on a large construction project — a very detailed schedule of what will be done and by whom such that it creates a basis for an “allowables” based contracting approach — implementers ONLY get paid for items that are on the schedule and they ONLY get paid the amount on the schedule UNLESS the client business materially changes or there has been material non-disclosure by the client team.
7. Comprehensive configuration testing in a Business Simulation Laboratory that uses a small sample of statistically representative data to comprehensively test the configuration, develop and test the reports, Business Intelligence and workflows. This is also used to develop operating standards and training material and train personnel such that by the time the system is commissioned all staff know how to use it. This is coupled to a very robust legally enforceable “Certificate of Readiness to Commission” signed by all parties coupled to retention of a percentage of interim certificate payments.
8. Highly formalized three stage tender process in which the entire bid table of contents, certificates, etc are prescribed in the tender documents such that every bid can be lined up against the others section by section and compared on a robust basis. All key documents are initialled and signed such that the final outcome of the procurement is a comprehensive and robust enforceable contract.
9. Comprehensive reference document pack that contains every document, spreadsheet, etc that is currently used to run the business with a prioritized covering schedule which stipulates which documents are critical to the configuration and must be supplied / substituted before “go-live”.
This extremely robust and, by Business Information System standards, harsh, procurement approach forces Vendors and Implementers to be honest about their offerings and creates a basis to hold them to all of their promises.
Some years ago I completed a project using this approach where the implementer went about three times over budget as a consequence of under quoting to get the work and did NOT get paid extra because of the robustness of the contract. Most importantly, the client obtained a high-quality business outcome that was an exceptional fit to their REAL requirement.