Published Article

One Plan Many Pieces

September 2006


By Robert Zabors, Steve Sheridan, & Nicholas Hays, Published in Electric Perspectives

In these days of rising costs and higher expectations for all stakeholders, many companies are increasing their focus on strategic planning.

Many companies focus their strategic planning efforts in an integrated resource planning process or through annual business planning and budgeting. But is that enough?

Opening up strategic planning can seem like a risky proposition. But taking risks in the planning process is an excellent way to reduce other more significant — and potentially costly — risks in the resulting strategy and implementation. Starting in 2003, Great Plains Energy (GPE) took that risk, using a structured and inclusive process that identified and evaluated a wide range of options.

The company sought out and evaluated a variety of perspectives, which can be complicated as external information is often outdated, contradictory, and difficult to synthesize. GPE discussed the fundamental drivers of change in the industry, a range of future scenarios, and the potential impact and opportunities for business units and the overall corporate portfolio. The outcome of the process — making strategy work — required employees who understand the challenges, buy-in to the approach, and are supported by the corporate culture.

The results? Since GPE announced its strategic intent in late 2004, the resulting regulatory plans have won unanimous approval in two states, and deregulated components have led to greater focus on specific customer segments. The company’s strategy won the support of employees, community leaders, investors, and most important, customers. This is GPE’s story.

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