Profitable growth is a fundamental driver of shareholder value. Developing effective business strategies that reliably meet or exceed the market’s expectations for growth is the key to delivering superior long-term shareholder returns. Successful strategic planning is not a mysterious process available to an exclusive group of top-performing companies. Value-creating strategies are the result of executive commitment, hard work and a well-defined approach.

Despite good intentions and major resource commitments, few organizations have strategic planning processes that provide an ongoing catalyst for significant strategic dialogue, or that lead to high-impact business strategies. At many companies, a focus on short-term results, detailed financial forecasts, and formal presentations skews the process, crowding out attention to key strategic issues. Even in cases where the right issues are identified, little external data is made available, and management teams often lack the time, resources or objectivity to complete the analysis required to challenge the status quo.

We believe executive teams can assemble the data, skills, processes and commitment they need for robust and relevant strategies by learning from the best practices of other firms. This Executive Insights illustrates some practical techniques for managing the development and execution of business strategies. It is distilled from L.E.K. client experiences as well as several recent benchmarking studies we have conducted. In these studies, we identified the best practices in strategic planning across a diverse group of more than 40 top-performing companies worldwide in many industries.

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