Strategic Planning II: Not a 12 month process!

29 01 2013


For the past 5-6 years, my company, PFP, has simplified its strategic plan to the point where it can be and is printed on a business card.  It is one of the most popular items to hand out and discuss with clients and partners.  On one side of the card is our mission statement and brand promise.  On the other side of the card is a list of our strategies for the year.  These strategies are the result of strategic planning sessions and agreed upon by all of PFP’s top executives.  The end result is available to be presented publicly and is presented to every employee of the company along with a personal letter from our President, Mark Sessel.

Our strategic plan this year was unusual since it did not contain a single initiative that was new to our organization.  At our strategic planning session, we determined it was necessary to dig deeper to achieve the desired results of our current innovations and bring them to successful fruition.

This is a good thing.  And if it happens to your team and organization, embrace it.  It does not mean that your team has lost its innovative edge.  It is not a sign of “lazy” strategic planning.  To the contrary, it is recognition that the arbitrary twelve-month timeframe in between your annual Strategic Planning Sessions does not coincide with the time needed to effectively implement the desired initiatives each year.

Timelines to gain buy-in to get onto the plan are lengthy.

Gaining consensus on the pain the organization is feeling without the innovation, and using the meetings and planning sessions to get the innovation on the list for the year is more complex than originally thought.  In order to gain buy-in, one must follow a process (see POST).

Timelines to build the foundation of Innovation are lengthy.

We start with an image and vision of what the innovation looks like and how it will perform when fully implemented.  Then reality begins to weave its way into the innovation.  There are technical, financial, resource and skill-set realities.    The goal is to engage the necessary resources to build the foundation for the implementation of the innovation.  The foundation allows the team to develop an efficient process and effective method of operating that can grow with the needs of your company.  Building this foundation takes significant time.

Duplication of the innovation and proving success is time consuming.

Just because you launched the innovative idea doesn’t mean it is going to ultimately revolutionize your company.  You need to prove your concept and this takes time.  Get some results, turn your projections into realities and share the facts.  These become the “assumptions” for the future as you attempt to replicate your results while using different variables.  As you change the picture and continue to show results, your expectations will change appropriately.  While this process keeps the innovation on target to realize its potential, the timeframe to navigate through this step is lengthy.

Bringing the revolution throughout your company is not a quick process.

Until it consistently becomes part of the budgeted operation of your firm, the initiative is in its innovative and strategic stage.  Once you have hired people, built an operation, developed efficient processes and created significant momentum you are on your way.  Your expenses and revenues can and should be projected.  When this happens, the innovation has officially moved from strategic thought to strategic action and lastly to operational day-to-day management.


There is no rule that sets the innovation and implementation process as a 12 month process.  As a result, Eye-Cubed organizations must have the intestinal fortitude to keep initiatives on the strategic list for more than one year.  Pull the innovation off the list too soon and risk losing momentum and destroying your vision.  Get it right and reap the massive rewards.


Invaluable Perspectives from Keynote Interview of David J. Sussman, Esq. CLU

22 01 2013

Do not miss Ronald Allen’s live keynote interview of David Susman, Esq. CLU, SVP of PFP and President of Eye-Cubed-U, LLC

Gain perspectives on:  Succession, Corporate Value, Leadership, Partnership, Change, Inspiration, Innovation, Family Businesses and more.  The President and innovator of Eye-Cubed-U, LLC shares his experiences and philosophies that spurred the formation of a new wave of corporate language and culture.

Click Here and listen live!  It really is a fantastic interview.  Thank you.

Tune In

Hear about these wonderful people:


  • The culture of the credit union industry
  • Selling to the credit union industry
  • Adding value to B to B clients
  • Innovating the Insurance Industry

Perspectives on how to become a:

  • Consultant
  • Speaker
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Presenter
  • Thought Leader

Hear advice on:

Books mentioned in the interview:

Companies mentioned by David Sussman and Ronald Allen:

Strategic Planning I: What is strategy?

15 01 2013

The Meeting


In the fourth quarter, you met as a management team to prepare for the upcoming year in a strategic planning session.  It was time to agree upon and delineate your strategic initiatives for the next year.

  • Do you have them written down easily accessible to review throughout the year?
  • Did you use a consultant, facilitator or was your meeting conducted by one of your senior leaders?
  • Were you pleased with the result of your strategic planning session?

Maximize your strategic results by doing the following:

  1. Change the location of this meeting from your normal location to allow for fresh thinking in a new stimulating environment.  Offsite is a great consideration.
  2. Foster a creative and strategic mindset.  Pre-work, such as providing a series of leading strategic questions for the team to answer, is a great way to allow folks time to think about their ideas and prepare them for the meeting.  Having the team breakout into small groups brings more ideas to the table than one big discussion.
  3. Have rules for this meeting to protect free-thinking and enhance participation.  Make sure there is no negativity regarding any ideas that may surface.  Make sure that the meeting is not dominated by the folks who speak all of the time.
  4. Plan to meet regularly throughout the year to keep the team informed and updated regarding the status of the initiatives.  Is your group “one and done”?  How often are you getting the team together to review the agreed-upon plan?  Strategic planning meetings should take place throughout the year, not just once a year.  I suggest monthly meetings where you move the focus beyond the potential of the idea as well as the buy-in process.  Rather, your team should dig into the challenges.  Uncover the bottleneck for the innovation and work on breaking through.  Keep the goals, vision and plan in front of the team and make the language within the plan part of the typical corporate conversation.
  5. Have a goal to focus on strategy and actively avoid operational issues in the meeting.  Make sure that you are conducting a strategy meeting where you will discuss innovation and implementation.  This is not the time for operational issues to be discussed and planned.  Consider the difference between operational issues and strategic issues.  Have a separate meeting for each.


Goal Setting vs. Strategic Planning

If this meeting has an agenda for setting up expectations and goals for your existing departments, it is not a strategic planning meeting.  If the meeting has a focus on “how” to achieve specific goals, such meetings are operational in nature and not strategic.  Operational meetings are as important as Strategy meetings.  However, do not mistake one for the other.  They could not be more different from one another.  True strategic meetings focus on corporate vision and where you want your company to be.

Operational Management vs. Strategic Management

There is a tremendous amount of strategy that goes into running the operation of your business.  And looking into the processes with the purpose of improving them or doing more of them is certainly a necessary and valuable part of your operational strategy.  However, such an endeavor is not part of your global strategic plan.  Strategic planning sets in motion initiatives that can move your organization in an innovative direction with new processes and new measurements.

Day-to-Day Concerns vs. Vision

We are typically busy focused on putting out fires and issues relating to the day-to-day business concerns.  Once one pulls back from this and sees the bigger picture including global concerns and future direction, one can gain the vision needed to participate fully in effective conversations regarding strategy.

Eye-Cubed executives and leaders appreciate the time needed to become inspired, determine the value of each innovative initiative and execute the implementation needed for success.  By differentiating between operational concerns and strategic endeavors, determining a measurement technique, process and timeframe, your team will drive the initiatives forward and evolve towards greatness.

Make Your Innovation Real: “It Is All About Them, Not About Us.”

8 01 2013


I can see a gem when it is in front of me.  That is how I felt when Howard Bass, Partner at Ernst & Young commented on Eye-Cubed University:

“It’s all about them, not about us…that is a great principle to apply in making social media, in making innovation real.” 

When the global leader in media and entertainment advisory services makes a statement, it is important to listen and internalize the message.  Okay…now what?    I need to make sure that my Eye-Cubed company takes this advice and makes the experience better for “them” – our customers.

In 2013, our key strategies focus on new delivery technologies to facilitate the sale by adding convenience, new channels for accessing a greater pool of potential customers, new retention methods to prevent customers from inadvertently losing the valuable products they purchased and new communication tools that provide our communities greater choices on how to work with and access their information.  Everything listed on our strategic plan is about “them”.  That is a good start.

It is no coincidence, however, that our direction is so focused on helping our customer.  And if I were paying for Howard Bass’ advice at E&Y (well worth every penny), I would move him beyond that issue and have him dig a bit deeper to find something else in my company on which to focus.  However, I personally had learned today’s lesson in September 2008 on a prior strategic endeavor, when I was in the middle of executing a plan to reorganize our call center.  My decisions and plan had wielded a devastating blow to our service levels and it took over a year to rebuild our customer experience to the levels we expect and demand of ourselves.  That was an unacceptable result and we vowed never to lose focus on our customer again.  If a decision had a detrimental impact on our clients, we would avoid it if possible, tread lightly if we must and definitely beware of the risks involved.

Now it is time to turn attention on your organization.  Is each innovation you are focused on designed to improve your customer’s experience?  Can your Eye-Cubed team connect the dots between your effort and its impact?


International media companies turn to Mr. Bass for advice and they consistently reap the benefit of employing his philosophy.  He clearly has the Eye-Cubed mentality and understands the ultimate goal.  The advice he provides with his one-sentence comment is invaluable.  It is a gem for you to pick up, shine, put in your pocket and keep forever.

Engage Eye-Cubed Speaker To Strategize For Success

1 01 2013

Join corporate business leaders across the globe in 2013 as we launch EYE-CUBED-U at conferences, meetings, consulting and strategic planning sessions on site or at your location.  When looking for a keynote speaker, a consultant or a speaker that will tackle your greatest strategic challenges, a corporate speaker to motivate and inspire your team, small groups as well as conference gatherings, let Eye-Cubed-U Founder and President David Sussman bring the corporate vision of inspiration-innovation-implementation directly to you!

great profile pic

Throughout long term consulting relationships, keynote addresses or all-day strategic planning sessions, this face-to-face opportunity gives your team the tools necessary to excel in today’s challenging corporate environment.

Selecting the best keynote speaker is no longer a problem.  This  dynamic conference speaker specializes in innovative programs for strategic groups from 5 to 2,000 that are customized to the needs of your company and your industry.   Here is an overview of several EYE-CUBED-U topics:

  1. Evolution on the Fringe:  The process of transforming your company using the inspiration-innovation-implementation guidelines.
  2. Change and How to Pay for It:  Using the latest Corporate Strategic Planning methods.
  3. Teamwork:  Moving your Company or Family Business to the next generation incorporating Strategic Management and Succession Planning.
  4. Diversity of Personality:  Variety stirs your melting pot for success as diversity stimulates Corporate Innovation.
  5. Hydrology:  Analyzing your streams of income as a guide in developing your Corporate Strategy.
  6. How to avoid the Perfect Storm:  Does your corporate climate guarantee survival among Chaos, Uncertainty and/or Disaster? This up-to-the minute keynote address is a call to action for aggressive management teams.
  7. Pursuing Innovation:  Let Eye-Cubed Consultant and Motivational Speaker, David Sussman help you pinpoint who should lead and how to measure the results.
  8. Dendochronology:  Look to the trees when measuring your company’s innovative past and present.  This unique approach taps into the latest Strategic Management Methods.
  9. Inspiration:   David Sussman, world-class inspirational speaker and consultant unlocks the secrets of this critical topic….Inspiration—Where to get it, how to share it and what to do with it
  10. Innovators:  The curse, the cure and other challenges outlined and made real during this critical presentation by Corporate Speaker and Consultant, David Sussman.

Make 2013 the year to set your company apart from the competition.  Get the most from your Corporate Strategic Meeting Facilitator, Industry Conferences and Team Building Events by hiring the best speaker and consultant for Inspirational, Motivational and Strategic events—take advantage of the Eye-Cubed-U philosophy.   I look forward to discussing availability for your next corporate event or conference.

David J. Sussman, Esq. CLU

Founder and President, Eye-Cubed-U, LLC

Building the Vision for Inspiration. Innovation. Implementation.

Cell Phone:  203-247-2104:  Email: