PNR Insights | Planning for uncertainty

January 12, 2021

Searches for the word “unprecedented” peaked last year. To say that last year was unexpected is an understatement. Not many organizations planned or prepared for a global pandemic at the start of the year. Dealing and preparing for uncertainty has taken on a whole new level of importance for leaders. The future is uncertain and trying to predict specific outcomes is often a futile task.

Understanding the world around us and executing an effective plan forward is at the heart of good strategy. Traditional strategic planning models are simply too static and don’t take into account a constantly changing environment. Last year was a wake up call, organizations need to not only make sense of an evolving landscape but also adapt their strategy accordingly.

Our core philosophy | Strategy in Action

In 2019, we developed our Strategy in Action methodology. It is in part inspired by the principles of Agile software development. At its heart, it focuses on execution and adaptability. Our belief is that strategy design and execution are ongoing and constant processes.

Having conducted over 100 strategy in action sessions and workshops with organizations of all sizes, we’ve learned a few key lessons for a successful outcome. Through research and application, the most important variable is alignment.

The secret to success | Strategic Alignment

The highest performing organizations are the ones typically with the best alignment.

Strategic alignment is defined as the process of aligning an organization’s decisions and actions such that they support the achievement of strategic goals.[1] In other words, how well the purpose, strategy and organizational capabilities are aligned.

Typically, the first step in this process is for a leadership team to survey their environment and make strategic choices accordingly. They also need to be aligned on what needs to get done (i.e. execution) to make their choices a reality.

Here is a visual representation of an aligned enterprise.

We believe that alignment holds the key to unlock enormous enterprise value. As a next step, we’re beginning to concretely measure the concept of alignment across our customers and their various stakeholders. We’ll continue expanding on these concepts based on our experience in coming editions.

If you have faced similar challenges in the past with alignment, we would love to hear from you!

Some company news!

We’re excited to announce two new members to the PNR team.

Béatrice Girardin

Béatrice completed her bachelor’s degree at Polytechnique Montréal. In addition to her engineering studies, she has experience as a consultant in the healthcare, entertainment and technology industries. She also carried out strategic plans for municipalities and sports institutions in the Montreal area. Within PNR, Béatrice is an analyst, she is playing an important role in ensuring the quality of the solutions offered to our clients. Outside work, Beatrice enjoys visual arts and photography, reading and the outdoors.

Maxime Dautraix

After a Bachelor in Management Science completed in France, Maxime holds a Master degree in Strategy from HEC Montréal. He did this in parallel with his high-level swimmer career. Before PNR, Maxime worked as an Operations Manager at Decathlon. He was responsible for winter/summer sports and swimming departments as supporting his sales teams and defined the strategic action plan. Outside of work, Maxime is a former high-level swimmer. He won multiple titles and was part of the international junior team. In his free time, he enjoys travelling, and watching soccer and NBA .

Fun stuff

Our most downloaded podcasts from the past year:

Reimagining manufacturing with Étienne Lacroix, Founder & CEO @ Vention

Etienne is a business leader and entrepreneur building and turning around engineering-intensive businesses. He is the founder and CEO of Vention, a software and hardware platform that enables manufacturing professionals to automate their production in just a few days.

Before Vention, he spent five years at McKinsey & Company as an Associate Principal with the Operations and Product Development Practices. In this role, he led enterprise-wide strategic, operational, and turnaround programs at global industrial and high-tech companies. Before joining McKinsey, he held various positions in product management, product development, and supply chain at General Electric as part of the Technical Leadership Program.

He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BA in mechanical engineering from the École de Technologie Supérieure.

On the show, we spoke about:

  • Being an inventor from a young age
  • Straight from the gut by Jack Welch and the ninja mindset
  • Three questions to ask yourself in your career
  • Vention’s mission and how they are reinventing manufacturing
  • Their business model innovations from a product and go to market perspective
  • The value of execution and being intellectually agile
  • Raising money from world class investors and their plan to go big
  • Vention’s unique culture

Transforming the economy with Stephan Morency, Chief Investment Officer @ Fondaction

Stéphan Morency has more than 15 years of experience as a private equity fund manager and entrepreneur specializing in enterprise corporate strategy consulting.

He founded 2 companies and managed them from inception to divestiture. He currently works at Fondaction, a 2B+$ fund dedicated to sustainable development, as Chief Investment Officer. He is primarily active in the impact investment sectors targeted by Fondaction and related to climate change, sustainable agro food transition and land revitalization. He is also serving as board member for several organizations including Transition Energetique Quebec.

On the show, we spoke about:

  • Finding purpose in his work
  • How he decided to focus on sustainability
  • The importance of impact investing
  • Fondaction’s mission, vision and investments

Business journalism with Marine Thomas, Editor in Chief @ Les Affaires

Marine is driven by a desire to offer our readers relevant and high-quality content, whether in paper or digital form. In addition, she sits on the Board of Directors of the Montreal Women’s Y – YWCA Montreal since 2014. She is currently Vice-Chair of the Board. Previously, she was editor-in-chief at Revue Gestion – HEC Montréal, editor-in-chief of Inspiro Media and deputy editor-in-chief of Premieres en Affaires. Marine has a Masters in Culture and Media Management (Press and Publishing Specialty) from Sciences Po (Paris).

On the show, we spoke about:

  • The acquisition of Les Affaires
  • The importance of diversifying revenue sources as well as quality journalism
  • Putting the client at the center of a transformation
  • Where media is headed

Our favorite articles:

Strategy under uncertainty Jerry Newmann (reading time: 16 minutes)

This is an absolutely terrific post on strategy and what it actually means. Large corporations have established strategies because the problem they are solving for is known; this is what makes strategic planning possible. For a startup however, you can’t plan because the degree of uncertainty is too high; specifically, because it is impossible to predict the future accurately. Jerry Newmann explains how uncertainty enters the decision making process

Five Lessons from History Collaborative Fund (reading time: 21 minutes)

We love reading about history and we’ve been reading more these days to try to make sense of how people lived through turbulent times in the past. This is an amazing post Morgan Housel written last year but it might as well been written yesterday. He provides five key lessons from history that are tremendously applicable today.

Begin with Trust Harvard Business Review (reading time: 17 minutes)

One of the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic is the importance of trust. We’re not often impressed by articles in HBR. This post does a great job of explaining why and how leaders need to build trust with their team. It uses the example of Uber to describe the point and how the company started rebuilding trust and empathy throughout the entire organization.

Past editions

Q1 2019 | French Version

2019 Review

Q3 2019

Q2 2019

Q1 2019

2018 Review

Q3 2018

Q2 2018

We hope that you have a great year!

The PNR Team

[1] https://www.transparentchoice.com/strategic-alignment