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Strategic Planning, Facilitation and Sony Corp.

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Johns Hopkins University

Master in Organizational Development

Facilitating Strategic Planning, Problems Solving and Decision Making

By Carolina Goicochea Castro

January 8, 2007


Overview Introduction of Strategic Planning and Facilitation

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is the continuous and systematic process of guiding members of an organization to make decisions about its future, develop the necessary procedures and operations to achieve that future, and determine how success will be achieved.

Oppenheim (2006) defines Strategic Planning as the methodical process by which an organization anticipates and plans for its future by undertaking an examination of the organization and its environment by those who have a stake in its future success.

Strategic Planning is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, as differentiated from tactics or immediate actions. It may employ methods like SWOT analysis to help clarify objectives and strategies. Strategic planning uses "the big picture" to pursue large scale, long term objectives. (Wikipedia - Strategic Planning, 2006).

The primary motive for organizations to do strategic planning is to learn and to make decisions about the future of the organization based on that learning.

The basic strategic planning process includes: 1. Identify your purpose (articulate mission and vision); 2. Assess the Situation; 3. Develop Strategies, Goals, and Objectives; 4. Identify specific approaches or strategies that must be implemented to reach each goal; 5. Identify specific action plans to implement each strategy, and 6. Monitor and update the plan.

A challenge in strategic planning is to decide what bits and where bits of information will be used to support business decisions. In general, strategic plans can fail for two types of reasons: inappropriate strategy and poor implementation.

Good strategic planning is typically based on a rich mix of conceptual, qualitative and quantitative information about what works for whom.

The amount of time it takes an organization to complete a strategic plan varies greatly depending on a number of factors, including; the size and complexity of the organization, past experience with strategic planning, accessibility of planning data, and time and availability of board and staff.

Strategic Planning results in a written document that serves as a blueprint to guide the organization towards its future goals, but far more important than the strategic plan document, is the strategic planning process itself.


Wikipedia - Facilitation (2006) defines facilitation as any activity which makes easy the tasks of others. From a business and/or organizational development perspective, Gaffney (2000) explains that facilitation "is the process of enabling groups to work cooperatively and effectively".

In particular, facilitation is important in circumstances where people of diverse backgrounds, interests and capabilities work together. Facilitation concerns itself with all the tasks needed to run a productive and impartial meeting. Facilitation serves the needs of any group who are meeting with the aim of making a decision or accomplish its goals.

A facilitator is an expert, not in providing answers, but in managing the dynamics of the group that is doing the work; is someone who skillfully helps a group of people understand their common objectives and plan to achieve them without personally taking any side of the argument.

The facilitator will try to assist the group in achieving a consensus on any disagreements that preexist or emerge in the meeting so that it has a strong basis for future action. The role has been likened to that of a "midwife" who assists in the process of creation but is not the producer of the end result. (Wikipedia - Facilitation, 2006).

Article & Discussion


The article that I chose for this assignment is "Sony: Playing a long game" (The Economist, 2006). This article talks about the complex problems that Sony had been having during the last months and how their "star" product, Playstation3 (PS3) could help the company, despite some problems with its introduction in the market last November 2006.

Sony, the Japanese multinational corporation, is one of the world's largest media conglomerates. Sony Corporation recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $67 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2005, and it employs 158,100 people worldwide. Sony is one of the leading manufacturers of electronics, video, communications, video games, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets (Wikipedia - Sony, 2006). At this moment Sony is under a big turnaround led by his CEO, Sir. Howard Stringer.

Sony recently announced quarterly results to the financial world, for the period July - September 2006, but they do not make good reading at all. In fact they are a disaster, with net profit for the quarter falling 94% to 1.7 billion Yen, compared to 28.5 billion Yen for the same period last year (Benson, 2006). It looks if as recent mistakes are starting to take their toll.

The stated or perceived problem

There is no doubt that the last months have been very difficult for the Company, and recent problems had begun to have an effect in this corporation. These problems include:

1. Recall of 9.6 million Sony Laptop batteries, after finding that they were liable to overheat and potentially burst into flames. The recall cost the company $436 million (The Economist, 2006). This is perhaps the one major factor behind the fall in profitability.

2. American regulators are investigating Sony regarding some allegations of price-fixing in the memory-chip market. (The Economist, 2006)

3. Sony's Blu-ray high-definition technology, has suffered from delays and component shortages, and it is involved in a war with the rival HD-DVD format, and together with some manufacturing problems delayed the PS3's launch (The Economist, 2006).

Sony projected to sell 2million PS3's



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