Making strategic planning work: a case study of Countrywide Financial

Handbook of Business Strategy 12/2005; 7(1):187-193. DOI: 10.1108/10775730610618800


Purpose – Strategic planning is a misunderstood and maligned managerial tool. Most organizations have tried it but relatively few actually achieve success in strategic planning. Design/methodology/approach – The experience of Countrywide Financial Corporation demonstrates how strategic planning can be used as a key lever for change and describes the benefits that accrued to it through this process. Stanford Kurland, the Company’s COO, engaged Eric Flamholtz to assist with developing a more sophisticated approach to strategic planning at Countrywide. Flamholtz introduced: a template for organizational assessment and development; and a systematic process for strategic planning that had been applied elsewhere with considerable success. The new planning process s became a corporate priority. Findings – The planning system has also led to a variety of other significant organizational benefits including: a constructive forum for elevating management’s focus from tactical and operational concerns to broader strategic challenges; a shift away from a “silo mentality” to a “Countrywide perspective”; a clear set of priorities to guide operating unit activities and decision-making; measurable objectives that emphasize linkages across organizational boundaries; and greater understanding and communication of the plan throughout the organization. Originality/value – Kurland was focused on longer-range issues for the company, but most of the other members of Countrywide’s senior management were more focused on short-term competitive success in their own divisions. It led to significant changes and benefits at Countrywide, including a strategic shift in corporate direction.

1 Follower
35 Reads
  • Source
    • "68-9), an effective vision is essential in breaking the status quo and looking beyond the immediate goals of the organization. A study at Countrywide Financial Corporation (Flamholtz and Kurland, 2006) revealed that vision and strategic planning was necessary to extend management's thinking beyond incremental performance improvement goals and to address longer-term issues and changing competitive dynamics. A clearly defined vision is easier for employees to understand and to act on, even if the first steps required are painful (Kotter, 1996, pp. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to gather current (2011) arguments and counterarguments in support of the classic change management model proposed by John P. Kotter in his 1996 book Leading Change. His work was based on his personal business and research experience, and did not reference any outside sources that has questioned its value. A current perspective on a limited tested model aims to be a focus of this paper. Design/methodology/approach: The literature on change management was reviewed for each of the eight steps defined in Kotter's model, to review how much support each of these steps had, individually and collectively, in 15 years of literature. Findings: The review found support for most of the steps, although no formal studies were found covering the entire spectrum and structure of the model. Kotter's change management model appears to derive its popularity more from its direct and usable format than from any scientific consensus on the results. However the model has several limitations, that are identified, impacting upon its universal acceptance and popularity. Research limitations/implications: Further studies should examine the validity of Kotter's model as a whole. More importantly, change management research should form a greater link with stakeholders in order to translate current research into a format usable by practitioners. Practical implications: No evidence was found against Kotter's change management model and it remains a recommendable reference. This paper attempts to "test" the "how-to-do-change management" with empirical and practitioner literature that was not evident in the original text. The model would be most useful as an implementation planning tool, but complementary tools should also be used during the implementation process to adapt to contextual factors or obstacles. Originality/value: Based upon a thorough review, this is the first formal review of Kotter's change management model, 15 years after its introduction.
    Journal of Management Development 08/2012; 31(8):764-782. DOI:10.1108/02621711211253231 · 0.32 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: For public libraries, as with most organizations, effective strategic planning is critical to longevity, facilitating cohesive and coordinated responses to ever present and ever changing political, economic, social, and technological (PEST) forces which shape and influence direction. Strategic planning is widely recognized as a challenging activity, however, which can be both time consuming and unproductive, and there exists limited guidance regarding how to evaluate documented and disseminated strategic plans, particularly within the not-for-profit sector. In response, this research proposes and tests an inspection-based approach to the evaluation of strategic plans, based upon a rubric specifying the key attributes of each of the core components of a plan, combined with an appropriate assessment scale. The rubric provides a method to identify and assess completeness of strategic plan, extending to qualitative assessment of communication aspects such as specification and terminology, and synergistic aspects such as cohesion and integration. In the most comprehensive study of its kind to date, the method is successfully trialed across the devolved Scottish public library sector, with the strategic plans of 28 of the 32 regional networks evaluated. Of the 28 plans, 17, or 61%, were found to be incomplete and/or to contain contradictory or uncoordinated components. It is recommended that Scottish public libraries improve not only completeness of plans, but also their precision, specificity, explicitness, coordination, and consistency, and overall mapping to library services. Recommendations are made for further widespread application of the rubric.
    Library & Information Science Research 04/2012; 34(2):125–130. DOI:10.1016/j.lisr.2011.11.004 · 1.63 Impact Factor