Alexander Roos, James Tucker, Fabrice Roghé, Marc Rodt, Sebastian Stange

A company’s culture is frequently at the heart of mismanaged planning, with management often rewarding the wrong behavior. Because financial incentives are still frequently tied to the achievement of short-term plans, employees can feel pressured to negotiate financial goals and to sandbag. Consequently, planning begins to feel like a bazaar instead of the organized, top-down process it should be. Employees may be motivated to reach … [ Read more ]

Ulrich Pidun, Sebastian Stange

While post-completion audits for large projects are common in many companies, the feedback into decision making typically happens only sporadically. Advanced companies review not only projects but also past decisions. The head of corporate strategy at a large industrial conglomerate puts it this way: “We made our biggest losses from moves not made. So we also explicitly review opportunity cost mistakes.”

Ulrich Pidun, Sebastian Stange

In most firms, incentives are tied to company or business unit performance. The consequences of large investment decisions typically take too long to materialize to have an impact on an executive’s bonus or promotion. This can lead to moral hazard, especially when managers expect to move on after a couple of years in a position.

We recommend tying personal targets and incentives to the success of … [ Read more ]

Ulrich Pidun, Sebastian Stange

Understanding the underlying risks should be a particular focus in project selection. Research has shown time and again that human beings are weak at risk assessment, but some techniques can help. A good starting point can be to frame the discussion in terms of a base question: What do we need to believe in to make this an attractive investment? This framing can help uncover … [ Read more ]

Sebastian Stange, Bjarte Bogsnes, Hardik Sheth

Traditional budgeting is like trying to square a circle, because the process tries to meet three ultimately incompatible objectives. First, budgeting sets targets to motivate and promote performance. These targets require directional and stretch goals. Second, budgeting provides forecasts of what lies ahead, but the forecasts only work if they are realistic, unbiased predictions. Production, for example, has to know what the expected sales are, … [ Read more ]

The Art of Risk Management

We worry that in their headlong embrace of formal systems of risk management, many companies are pursuing a highly technical approach to risk management—characterized by complex financial models and elaborate, formal risk-management systems—in isolation from the day-to-day activities of the broader organization. The result is that risk management may exist as a formal function, but it is not really embedded in the “mindset” of the … [ Read more ]

The Art of Planning

Since businesses face more aggressive competition than ever before and have to assume increasing risk, they need to prioritize their deployment of resources even more carefully and govern their wide-ranging global activities more diligently. Smart planning has never been as important as it is today.

In this Focus, we delve into the changes and challenges that have altered the context in which companies must now undertake … [ Read more ]

Going Beyond Budgeting

Among CFOs, alternative approaches to budgeting are getting a lot of attention. In particular, Beyond Budgeting, a concrete alternative to traditional budgeting, is gaining mainstream traction. The approach is producing impressive results at a growing number of global companies. Moreover, a BCG study confirmed that Beyond Budgeting has significant benefits: 59% of 174 finance executives surveyed reported increased sales, 56% saved significant costs in the … [ Read more ]

Designing the Corporate Center: How to Turn Strategy into Structure

Complex global corporations are under unrelenting pressure to create value. But no corporate center can add value without an effective parenting strategy, and no strategy can succeed without an organizational design that translates strategy into operational reality. Learn how to turn your corporate center into a value-creation engine.