What Is Strategic Navigation 2008™?

People have asked, "How does Strategic Navigation 2008™ differ from other methodologies, such as Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma, or Lean?" This is a fair question, as the number of buzzwords and methods has proliferated over the past 10 years or so.

Internal Focus.

Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Six Sigma, and Lean are process management methodologies, primarily inwardly focused (though not excluding external considerations). They can be very complicated and detailed, and their emphasis is on short-term (daily, weekly, monthly) efforts at managing processes.

Acknowledging the System Constraint.

But BSC, Lean and Six Sigma are no different from one another in one key respect: None of them explicitly acknowledge that larger systems are constrained or limited in what they can do in some way. It seems as if the concept of a system constraint is totally transparent to them. This is not surprising, since all of these methods seem to operate at a lower level of the organization than the whole-system level (i.e., they seem to be process-oriented, rather than system oriented). Strategic Navigation 2008™, on the other hand, is based on the idea that all systems are constrained in some way, and that realizing higher levels of system performance (i.e., not process), requires focusing on that system constraint, whatever it may be, and wherever it might lie.

Book: Strategic Navigation  Book: Goldratt's Theory of Constraints   Book: Manufacturing at Warp Speed  Book: Breaking the Constraints to World-Class Performance   Book: Brainpower Networking

What Strategic Navigation 2008™ Does.

So, Strategic Navigation 2008™ is nothing more than a convenient title for a systems-level, constraint-oriented approach to determining what the most effective corporate strategy should be and how to deploy that strategy. It is based on first determining what the organization's owners are trying to achieve (the single overriding goal), what the critical success factors are (no more than about 3-5 of those) that must be satisfied in order for the goal to be achieved, and some of the major necessary conditions (intermediate outcomes) that must be achieved to satisfy the critical success factors.

The Strategic Navigation 2008™ approach is designed to provide a clear system-level picture of where the organization stands with respect to both it's goal/critical success factors and the ever-changing external environment. In this respect, it's as much outward-looking as inward looking. And it contains elements and principles of maneuver warfare to ensure flexibility and agility to keep the system pointed in the right direction when the environment changes.

At the risk of oversimplifying, Strategic Navigation 2008 ™ basically says, "If you want your system to succeed in reaching your stated goal, THESE are the few things you should concentrate on today, THOSE are the things that are likely to become important tomorrow, and you'd better be ready to reassess your direction and efforts for getting there as the external competitive environment changes (sometimes drastically, as with 9/11)." Strategic Navigation™ does NOT involve itself in the mundane details that BSC, Lean, and Six Sigma seem to concentrate on (even revel in!).

Different Objectives

To use a nautical analogy, the Captain is up on the bridge using Strategic Navigation 2008 ™ to determine where to point the ship, how to navigate the storms and shoals, how fast to go, how to avoid the pirates, and how much progress the ship is making. The Chief Engineer is down in the engine room, NOT looking out, but watching what's going on inside, using Lean/Six Sigma/BSC to make sure the engine is running smoothly, applying more power when the Captain demands it, and maybe even turning the rudder to the proper deflection when a course change is directed.

To get a better feel for how big a difference this implies, picture yourself as the chief executive of a major international flag-carrier airline on the morning of 9/12/2001. You're operating your airline on the basis of BSC, Six Sigma, or Lean. In one earth-shattering moment, your whole world has turned upside down, the paradigm in which you function has changed drastically (economically, politically, legally, and security-wise), and you have to do something about changing the way you operate as quickly as possible to keep from going under in the turbulence. Strategic Navigation 2008 ™ could do that for you in about 2-4 weeks of concentrated effort. It's doubtful that BSC could do that for you in 6 months, if at all. And forget Lean and Six Sigma. They don't tell you anything about dealing with a problem of that magnitude.

So, how does Strategic Navigation 2008 ™ differ from BSC? In a nutshell, I would say that Strategic Navigation™ simplifies the challenge of leadership. It tells leaders:

  • Where/how to focus their BSC, Lean or Six Sigma efforts
  • What to pay attention to, and
  • What to ignore.

(After all 90% of the information resident in a system is "noise" and only 10%—or even less—is useful "signal.")

Leadership and Management

Strategic Navigation 2008 ™ is likely to be of more interest to leaders; BSC/Lean/Six Sigma would be more appropriate for managers—and there is a critical difference between the two. This is not to say, however, that they are mutually exclusive or that there might not be some synergy between the two. They are intended to do two different things.

Click HERE to download an Acrobat file that describes Strategic Navigation 2008™ in detail