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  • Coca-Cola
    Strategic Planning ‘As a Service’
    Process Design

    What does a company more than 130 years old, that maintains more than 500 brands, do to respond to the requirements of a world that never stops moving?

    With more than a century under its belt, its 4700 products and presence in 200 countries, The Coca-Cola Company is still the most profitable consumer goods concern on the planet. Its worldwide market leadership obeys, among other things, a sophisticated operational ecosystem made up of more than two hundred strategic partners and bottlers from numerous regions, including Mexico’s FEMSA and Arca Continental, that produce, distribute and commercialize the corporate portfolio.  

    Seeking simultaneously to comply with business objectives and the notion of “Refreshing the World and Making a Difference,” Coca-Cola and its associates work, year in and year out on notably ambitious strategic-planning exercises. That said, as is the case with everything, these exercises are not exempt from factors beyond their control. The challenges inherent to an unpredictable market inspired the company to optimize its capacity for alignment, efficiency and responsivity. When dealing with the unforeseen, the consumer-products giant recognized there’s nothing better than being prepared.

    Human factor to center

    The Coca-Cola México Strategic Planning and Innovation team invited Thrust to step up to a challenge. How can we optimize the annual planning process to deftly respond to and synchronize with a world in constant movement?

    Following a pro-forma analysis, we resolved that the angle was not really reengineering the process but rather in the human factor. We discovered what seemed a perfect plan on paper, upon real application, had not considered moments of possible functional and emotional derailment that made meeting goals and responsiveness to change so difficult. We re-posited the model using a service-design perspective centered on different process players’ mindsets and challenges.   

    Strategic planning “as service”

    Thrust’s “double-loop” methodology—that consists of mapping, ethnographies and interaction with key players—identified opportunity areas based on a detailed, systematic diagnostic. Instead of focusing on just one element, we completed an integral evaluation that took up four factors: players, interactions, tools and processes. 

    Added to that we carried out a process-analysis in which we identified in-process functional and emotional obstacles, as well as the whys and hows behind them.  It allowed imagining a model in which agility and capillarity are the main axis both of planning as well as execution. It would change Coca-Cola into a responsive enterprise; at Thrust we use the term to name organizations specifically designed to anticipate and respond to market changes.  

    Changed model, changed paradigm

    After exhaustive research, outcomes revealed a need to re-posit the planning focus from a protocols-, financial objectives- and transactions management-centered model to one centered on people and synergies that shared purposes.

    According to the new plan, in order that the company flow with the efficiency and responsiveness markets required at “moments of truth” and change, those involved had to interact in so-called “sprintformats,” gathering appropriate profiles through moments, processes, communications and other appropriate tools. 

    Translating challenges into opportunities

    The new model is designed to generate impacts based on efficiency, alignment, development-time and experience-based indicators.

    Coca-Cola participants and members responded positively to Thrust’s observations, integrating insights and recommendations into the present-day strategic planning process, as well as within timely processes for the organization’s transversal areas. 

    With this project, Coca-Cola México not only assures real steps toward sustained growth in a market it already dominates, but as well, now holds the necessary tools for responding to challenges from a reality that promises nothing except it will never stop changing. It will continue being a market titan, but a titan capable of responding with a gazelle’s grace when challenges or circumstances “in the jungle” require it.

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