Views on Strategic Planning from Inside the Top of the Tower; Some Comments from Key Planners on How Their Companies Encourage People to Think Ahead

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COMMUNICATION IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS

Robert P. Rittereiser, Executive Vice President, Strategy and Finance, Merrill Lynch & Company, Inc., New York

Stimulating people to think and act strategically first requires a pragmatic strategy. Within this context, the mission, positioning, priorities, and critical path must be clearly communicated to line managers who implement the strategy. Finally, strategic management is stimulated by including issue analysis and multi-year planning objectives in performance reviews. SEEKING THE EDGE ON THE COMPETITION

Wendy Peter Abt, Director, Strategic Planning, Bank of Boston

Strategy is a series of activities which, sequenced properly, seeks to obtain advantage (hopefully, lasting) against competitors. Sound strategy requires clear purpose. Heed reality; recognize its dynamic nature. Interpret information about customers and competitors wisely and purposefully; don't becomd mesmerized or bogged down. Be imaginative. Unique insight into financial service markets and products builds sustainable competitive advantage and strengths. Keep score. If a strategy fails to raise stock price, you're drifting. Finally, do not bother if your CEO and key line managers are not the real strategic planners in your institution. A COMMON PURPOSE SHARED BY THE STAFF

Thomas F. Chapman, Executive Vice President, First National Bank of Atlanta

Corporate strategies must be fluid, driven both by the market and emerging opportunities. Against the tapestry of broad corporate strategies, we have been most successful in motivating employees to think opportunistically. Our driving force has been the sense of common purpose shared by employees. Their response places us in a stronger position to take advantage of strategic opportunities facing the bank. THE NEED TO GET OUT OF THE HOTHOUSE

Charles B. Hintz, Vice President, Corporate Development & Finance, Northern Trust Company, Chicago

In too many banks, strategic planning has become an "ivory tower" exercise in which isolated staffs produce analyses in an endless search for the perfect plan. It is unlikely that strategies developed in such "hothouse" environments will ever be implemented. At Northern, we have found that new corporate directions can best be established when the chief executive takes personal control of the strategic planning effort. It is through this personal involvement that the commitment to a new corporate direction develops. In our recent planning effort, a continuing dialogue with senior management provided the guidance and operating perspectives to develop a shared vision for the future of Northern Trust. This vision was then communicated throughout the institution and its implementation ensured by the continuing support of management and by a reward system which encourages progress towards the goals of the plan. GETTING THE INPUT TO UPSCALE OUTPUT

John B. Olsen, Senior Vice president, Mellon Bank, Pittsburgh

In brief, strategic planning adds value to the management of an enterprise by providing the means for timely strategic decision-making and consequent resource allocation that will shape the future of the business. …