Recession Prompts Shift From Strategic Plans to Quick Decisions

The Wall Street Journal reports on how the recession has prompted businesses to shift away from strategic plans to more flexible strategy reviews and quick decision-making:

Office Depot

Office Depot Inc., for example, began updating its annual budget every month, starting in early 2009. “This downturn has changed the way we will think about our business for many years to come,” says Steve Odland, Office Depot’s chairman and chief executive.

J.C. Penney

Amid the slowing economy in early 2008, [Chief Executive Myron E. “Mike”] Ullman realized that “there’s no way you can have all gun barrels blazing.” So he devised a tentative “bridge” plan that lasted through 2009. “We hit the pause button on a lot of things,” he explains, while speeding up efforts to woo customers in fresh ways such as through social-networking sites. Mr. Ullman says the bridge plan succeeded, and he cites Penney’s improved margins and lack of layoffs.

Spartan Motors

[Chief Executive John] Sztykiel inaugurated a three-year strategic plan that he and his lieutenants update every month. The Spartan CEO has started to see a payoff. In November, the company agreed to buy Utilimaster Corp., a maker of delivery vans and custom chassis, for $45 million. Mr. Sztykiel is sure the deal wouldn’t have crossed his radar in time if he had stuck with quarterly strategy reviews.

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