Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Portfolio-Thread View (PTV©) in action within a 2020 strategic planning scenario

As we are well aware, within the last few weeks, we have been pitching a compelling case for our "PtC© collaboration driven PTV© View"– based on the lessons learned from the dominant strategy views (SPV, RBV, SEV, DTV etc.) of recent years- especially from the standpoint of how they have evolved within the last 50+ years. While our compelling pitches have definitely got the attention of few strategy practitioners - one of our fellow strategists encouraged us to expound on PTV© in detail- in terms of how it will actually come to life within a real world engagement with a “day in the life” strategic planning scenario. In other words, we are going to challenge ourselves and put PTV© in Practice using a real world strategic planning case study within today’s blog.

To meet this challenge, we have developed a metaphor driven “mini case study”- leveraging the learning’s from one of our recent strategic planning engagements of our client called CPGR-Co Inc. (our fictitious CPG/Retail Corporation pronounced as ZipGyarCo) - who had asked us to help them formulate their 2020 strategic plan - to unleash their growth and innovation opportunities. As a starting point, using our 10 box model, we framed up their strategic planning problem space with a set of 6W based hypothesis (or questions) to help solve their 2020 challenge. For the purposes of this case study (and to maintain their anonymity), we have provided only the hypothesis part of our case study (& not the final answers) – given the fact, hypothesis formulation (& its sub questions) is the single most important task within any strategic planning engagement/case study – and the subsequent answers are client specific – as it varies from client to client, industry to industry depending upon the internal/external environmental data points. With that said, let us first agree on few foundational definitions (with a help of a metaphor) to get grounded before plunging in to the case study in detail.

So, what is PTV© again?

First things first - under PTV©- strategy is a portfolio of aspiration structures that are knitted together by our 10 box model based strategic threads/themes - producing multiple strategy choices as outlined in one of our earlier blogs. Let us use a card game puzzle metaphor to better understand how PTV© is different from other dominant views. In most strategy views, strategy is viewed as a traditional card game puzzle – wherein each part of the puzzle (i.e. aspiration structure portfolio elements) is viewed as individual pieces of the strategy that are being assembled together to form the final big picture. On the other hand, within PTV©, strategy is viewed as an “Anchor Stone Tangram” puzzle with its 36+ design constructs - when assembled in various combinations producing variety of meaningful big pictures depending upon the sequence in which they are assembled - very much like how our PTV© helps us to develop multiple strategy choices depending upon the way we sequence/knit the aspiration structure portfolio elements and the strategy threads – that are further shaped by the competitive situation scenarios and the vision/ imagination of the strategists.

PT view is all about fishing for the Perfect choice within the set of Permissive choices

To understand this multiple strategic choices development process further – let us use yet another “chute and ladder (CL)” game metaphor, to better grasp its concept. The chutes and ladders within the game board playing area can be visualized as the opportunities and roadblocks respectively within the four walls of a corporation campus - in which one can reach the senior leadership floor- using multiple paths (very much like how one can reach the CL game destination using multiple paths within the CL game). Nevertheless, only one path, in general is the perfect path that is commonly used by the senior leaders except on few situations - where the internal/external conditions (construction work, unfortunate accidents beyond one’s control, bad weather etc) might make the senior leaders to take an alternate path – which might become the perfect path for a period of time and so and so forth.

This is where our PTV© comes in to the picture- as it is designed to help us find that perfect path in those unexpected situations – i.e. finding the perfect strategy choice from the multiple permissive strategy choices depending upon the internal/external competitive scenarios. The question however is - what happens if one chooses to take the permissive path even in normal circumstances? Granted, we will still be able to reach the final destination, but definitely not in an optimal fashion- as there might exist one or more chutes along the way within those permissive paths to slow us down before reaching the final destination - and this is where our PT view again (with its set of dashboard tools, techniques and templates) help us to perform various “what if scenario analysis” on top of its portfolio of aspiration structures to help arrive at the perfect choice (providing the right to win SCA ) out of the various permissive choices. Interestingly enough, we may be able to derive some additional insights from the spiritual concept of finding “GOD’S PERFECT WILL vs. PERMISSIVE WILL” that is commonly taught within the scriptures (of west and east alike) to better understand this PERFECT CHOICE vs. PERMISSIVE CHOICE strategy dilemmas.

The natural follow-on question is how do we choose the perfect choice between these two seemingly opposing permissive choices (i.e. Yin and Yang type scenarios) with conflicting goals? Well, this is where we need to use our intuition/synthesis based converging techniques (as opposed to the analytics based diverging techniques ) to reconcile/agree on the "essential" features from both options, yet compromising on the non-essential features – thus formulating the third option with a best of both worlds. While it might sound like an abstract theory – we can feel rest assured - that it has been used successfully by the philosophers of yester-years to resolve the doctrinal dilemmas for centuries.

Some of the most notable examples being - a) Augustine who had used a similar intuitive synthesis based technique to resolve the doctrinal conflicts between two opposing views in Church history and b) Gaudiya tradition that used a similar intuitive tactics to resolve Shiva-Vishnu conflicts. Augustine would say “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity” – which perfectly aligns with this intuitive synthesis principle of agreeing on the best of both world type essentials - yet compromising on the non essentials. Similarly under the Gaudiya tradition, the Shiva-Vishnu question is nicely dealt with, in terms of reconciling the major Shiva/Vishnu related doctrinal conflicts using intuitive contextual interpretation – in which Shiva/Vishnu are jiva on certain occasions and sometimes not- depending upon the context in which the deity is being interpreted very much like how “God the Father” and “God the Son” are being interpreted in bible. Honestly speaking – I have always been inspired by the deeper insights from the ancient scriptures of both west and the east like – and found them to be very helpful in sharpening the strategic insights. I would love to hear from other readers on their experiences as well.

PT View in Practice

Now that we have understood the perfect choice vs. permissive choice dilemmas within the context of both spiritual and strategy disciplines- the next obvious question is how does PTV© inherently help us to solve these dilemmas efficiently? The answer lies in the way PTV© efficiently knits (or balances) the aspiration structure portfolio elements with a help of our 10 box strategy threads/themes (such as differentiation, cost leadership, focus, globalization etc.) within the context of the four BSC perspectives - as identified by Kaplan/Norton’s BSC framework. In other words, PT view is designed to balance (and answer) the following “6W based cause and effect driven opposing scenario questions” within the context of the four perspectives of Kaplan/Norton’s BSC design - to help arrive at the optimal aspiration structure portfolio mix producing the magical SCA providing the right to win for our client CPG-Co– as part of their 2020 strategic planning engagement.

As we can clearly see that – each of the four perspectives of BSC are often at odds with each other in terms of their goals and requirements resulting in a 6W based seemingly opposing scenarios within these four perspectives- as outlined below and in the picture on the top of the page . For example, the most notable dilemma being the conflict between Financial and Growth/Learning perspectives - resulting in Q-To-Q results vs. long term results dilemma and so on and so forth. Solving these 6W’s efficiently is what sets an organization apart in terms of developing, testing and implementing well differentiated/well guarded strategies that are difficult to be emulated by the competitors.

  1. Purpose vs. Profit Scenario (Addressing the WHO do we serve question of adding value to customers vs. shareholders). This hypothesis further drills down in to the customer and shareholder value segmentations at a granular level - to balance the profit and purpose value dilemmas in an effective and efficient manner.

  2. Market Driven vs. Resource Driven Scenario (SPV vs. RBV) – Addressing “WHAT strategy formulation view to use” question by using the best features from Strategic Positioning View vs. Resource Based View. This hypothesis further drills down to choose the perfect choice out of the many permissive choices at a granular level – and to clearly articulate the underpinnings of the portfolio aspiration structure portfolio elements (that maximizes the SCA) with a help of a dashboard driven what-if-analysis scenario design tools, techniques and templates.

  3. Operational Excellence vs. Innovation Excellence Scenario (SEV vs. DTV) - Addressing “WHICH strategy management view to use question” by using the best features from Strategic Execution View and Design Thinking View. This hypothesis further drills down to choose the perfect choice out of the many permissive choices at a granular level – and to clearly articulate the underpinnings of the portfolio aspiration structure portfolio elements (that maximizes the SCA) with a help of a dashboard driven what-if-analysis scenario design tools, techniques and templates.

  4. Customer centric vs. Vision centric Scenario – Addressing WHY do we exist question – or the reason for being in the business - i.e. meeting the “needs and wants” of customers vs. redefining their” needs and wants” with a vision centric innovation. This hypothesis further drills down to at a granular level - to clearly define the boundaries and source of innovation in terms of whether it is going to be limited within four walls and meets just the current needs and wants of customers vs. going across the related and unrelated industry vertical boundaries in the form of the purpose innovation as we had identified in our earlier blog .

  5. Supply/Push driven vs. Demand/Pull Driven Scenario (Inside the Four walls vs. outside the four walls) – Addressing the WHERE to position the value question – to help design an efficient value chain based on the best features from Push and pull value chain designs. This hypothesis further drills down at a granular level - to clearly define how and where the value will be created and consumed in terms of whether it is going to be limited within four walls meeting just the current needs and wants of customers (and the immediate partners/suppliers) vs. going across the related and unrelated industry verticals in the form of the pull value chain based purpose innovation as we had identified in our earlier blog .

  6. Q-To-Q results vs. long term results Scenario -Addressing the WHEN to reap the financial value question of focusing on quarter by quarter results vs. 3-5 year results. These hypothesis further drills down in to financial results at a granular level to help focus both on the Q-To-Q results and long term results with a Corporate Performance Management (CPM) System.

Although these 6W’s appear to be resulting in 6 seemingly opposing scenarios on the surface – PTV© inherently helps us to balance (& solve) these 6W’s – with a set of analytics/synthesis based tools, techniques and templates (using an automated what if scenario based dashboard tools) to help answer these 6W’s with clarity, certainty and speed. In other words, PTV© uses a balanced combination of analytics and synthesis driven “doing both” principle driven problem solving techniques, tools and templates - as promoted by Inder Sidhu and Roger Martin. Time permitting- we will cover the details behind these dashboard tools/techniques in a future blog. Coincidentally, couple of our fellow strategist like Mr. Gerald Nanninga (http://planninga-from-nanninga.blogspot.com/search/label/Balanced%20Scorecard) and Mr. Ali Annani have used similar balancing opposites based thinking to show the relationship between blue ocean strategy and team work dimension of BSC framework(http://www.slideshare.net/hudali15/blue-ocean-strategy-balanced-scorecard-strategy-and-team-forming-a-shared-perspective) as well.


This type of PtC© collaboration driven PTV© strategic view – not only helps us to answer these seemingly opposing 6W’s - but also, inherently enables us to take a systemic view in our strategic planning efforts– which further positions us to create boundary less purpose innovation models and bundles as outlined in one of our earlier blogs.In other words, this well orchestrated strategic planning process that is based on the nature’s principle of balancing opposites, reinforcing teamwork and collaboration - is what differentiates PTV© from other dominant strategic views. With that said, let us be rest assured that this PtC© driven PTV© is guaranteed to help unlock the creative innovation potential that is buried deep inside the large organizations like CPGR-Co.


  1. Hello Charles,

    This is an insightful and thought-provoking post. It really sums up your previous posts in a grand way. The more I read the post, the more I find it necessary to rethink my conclusions and understanding. I feel my ideas are floating on moving sand and find it difficult to balance my position and ideas. Your post tires the mind for it forces it to think and rethink continuously.
    I have a general question: are we talking about the current time, or the future time? Time dimension is important. For example, the dimension of customer centric vs. vision centric serves to explain my point. Vision is proactive and requires different sets to anticipate the future. In contrast, current customer needs are focused on the present time and therefore anticipation or forecast is of less importance. Since strategic planning is visioning where do we need to be in a future time it might be in conflict with the present needs. Is it due then to a time dimension that we have different perspective?
    I told you Charles I feel I am standing on moving sand. I want to thank you this time and in future times for the grand way you referred to my presentations.
    I shall ponder more on this grand post.

  2. Hello Ali.

    Appreciate your comment. As always, you bring up some insightful observations and follow-up questions- and that shows that you read my blogs carefully.

    In a way, your blue ocean strategy (BOS) mapping to team work is very similar to the way I have mapped the PTV (with its 6 seemingly opposites) to the four perspectives of the BSC. The only difference is that you have mapped BOS only to one perspective of BSC called team work– whereas I have extended it to all the four perspectives – which I hope makes it holistic and simple to understand the big picture.

    Coming back to Customer centric vs. Vision centric dilemma. The Vision in this context is not about the vision/mission and so time dimension does not apply the way you have identified – rather it is about innovation vision. The crux of the dilemma in this context is answering the question of “Why do companies exist or how do they innovate to meet the needs/wants of the customers they serve? i.e. do companies need to come up with a products/service meeting the existing unmet needs/wants of customers (which is sometimes called user centric innovation and the example being P&G coming up with a Tide basic) or do they redefine the “needs and wants” of customers with a newer market or product/service which was never in existence before (like Smart phones/iPads where Apple literally created a new need which was not existing before). This type of innovation is called vision centric innovation as they were not derived by observing the unmet needs of customers – rather these products came from the creative vision of innovators like Steve Job’s and his team.

    In a way companies need to do both – customer centric innovation and vision centric innovation. Hope it clarifies.

    Again, very insightful comment!

  3. Charles, I appreciate your clear and concise response. What I really meant is taking a proactive view might not please customers who are immersed in today's interest and problems. Companies who could see beyond this barrier came up with the innovative products that you mention. If companies are totally customer-focused would that mean taking care of the shortcoming views of customers? Or, should companies balance today’s need and interest with the futuristic emerging ones?

    As for my publication I really discussed the balanced scorecard marginally, as you said and as I indicated in the last slide of the presentation. I felt I should leave that out for a forthcoming publication. I mostly focused on comparing team build-up process with the Blue Ocean Strategy.

    I thank you Charles for your sound response.