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CFO Insights — Strategic planning: Why you should zoom out and zoom in

Published on: May 30, 2019

Despite the challenges of strategic planning in a rapidly changing world, most companies have remained loyal to the five-year plan as a basic framework. Some have moved to a three-year horizon to address the growing uncertainty, with a few taking the dramatic step of abandoning a long-term strategic plan altogether.

Regardless of the time frame, executives have increasingly adopted a reactive approach to strategy. The goal: to sense and respond as quickly as possible to events as they happen.

The result, however, has been that many companies are spreading themselves too thin dealing with an ever-expanding array of initiatives. Even the very largest companies are wrestling with the realization that the number of new programs exceeds the available resources. They are also recognizing that these initiatives tend to be incremental in nature, due not only to limited resources, but also because they are responses to short-term events.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. It’s based on an approach that some of the most successful digital technology companies have pursued over the past several decades. We call it zoom out/zoom in.

This issue discusses the components of zoom out/zoom in and why CFOs and other executives should embrace it to boost immediate strategic impact and prepare for the long-term.

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