COVID-19 Underscores the Imperative for a Short Strategy to Execution Cycle


In an ideal world, firms will always be able to plan out their strategy well in advance, but in the real world organizations need to be able to react to crises and should be able to go from strategy to execution rapidly.

The current state of the coronavirus crisis is in a curious position. Many readers could be forgiven for thinking the crisis, or at least the “first wave” is largely coming to an end, with lockdowns easing and some nations having eliminated the virus entirely. Worldwide there is a different picture, as cases continue to rise and some nations – many of them developing – struggle to control the virus. Depending on where a business is located, their short-term planning could be very different, though it is likely that everyone will be impacted by the economic damage. 

Regardless of how well your home nation is dealing with the coronavirus, there is no doubt that it highlights the importance of being able to shift strategy very rapidly; many organizations are now having to quickly adjust their marketing in response to widespread protests, for example. In an ideal world, firms will always be able to plan out their strategy well in advance, taking care to estimate impacts from any change and create roadmaps for every step of the process. Unfortunately, in the real world organizations need to be able to react to crises and will not be able to control exactly how they need to change. 

At these times, responsiveness and agility are critical to enterprise survival. However, if there are any traits which large enterprises lack, then those two would be the first to be named. Indeed, so much of the “disruption” that we have seen in recent times has been because large organizations were simply too slow to react to their nimble, start-up competitors. Consider the example of Blockbuster and Netflix. Netflix were originally a mail film rental firm, and Blockbuster had actually developed the technology for online movie streaming before Netflix. However, Netflix swiftly pivoted to streaming in the mid-2000s while Blockbuster lumbered forwards, missing their chance and paying the price. Of course, this example took place over several years, and was hardly a rapid-onset crisis!  

What can an enterprise do about this, when the fundamental nature of size is opposed to agility? This question is essentially what strategic portfolio management was designed to answer. One of the big problems with business size is that there are so many “moving parts” in a business, that changing anything can have huge unintended impacts, and make take ages to propagate through the business. Take Blockbuster again. They had thousands of franchise stores spread across dozens of countries, meaning any strategic shift had to take all of these markets and stakeholders into account – a challenging task even for the best of managers. With portfolio management, a business can have a much better understanding of itself, and be quicker to react, shortening the journey from strategy to execution.  

Having the capability to perform strategic portfolio management in your enterprise architecture department means have the right tools for the job. Orbus Software have recently released a major update to iServer’s SPM capabilities, with new dashboards and features, making this a perfect time to invest in portfolio management and protect against crises.