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Blank Check Strategy
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Due to organizations having limited resources (e.g. talent, capital, time, etc.), the focus of Strategy Development is often the optimization and prioritization of said resources to maximize the potential to reach its strategic objectives. But what if that weren’t the case? This is the thinking behind Blank Check Strategy.
The blank check approach takes a contrarian viewpoint. The fundamental question then becomes, what if resources were not a constraint? This compels managers to think big and not worry about resources.
A blank check is a metaphor the freedom of a team or business is given to determine for themselves the resources they need to achieve a set of agreed-upon goals within a defined timeframe.
The issue with working with confined resources is that it not only limits your plans, but also limits the creative potential of people. In other words, by removing the resource restraint, we also removing an invisible restraint on creativity and imagine.
Through this approach, business leaders, instead of defining budgets and resources, focus on defining ambitious goals. Then, they leave it to their managers and teams to request for resources needed to achieve these goals. Many organizations that have embraced this approach managed to achieve astounding results.
When teams decide their own budgets, they feel more accountable, empowerment, and ownership. They are thus inspired to achieve more ambitious, stretch goals.
It is critical to under that a blank check is not a license to spend without restraint, guidelines, or consequences. To effectively apply the blank check approach, there are several important principles that should be followed. In other words, blank checks offer freedom within a framework. There are still rules to ensure these initiatives remain aligned with our Strategy and product results.
One of the most important important guiding principles is to seek to drive the Virtuous Cycle of Growth. What this means is a blank check initiative needs to have the potential to produce sustainable, continuous, profitable growth.
The Virtuous Cycle of Growth follows 5 key phases, as captured on this slide below.
Each phase of the cycle emphasizes an outcome and the means to achieve the outcome. These phases must be followed with rigor to ensure that the blank check initiative does not veer off course and achieves sustainable growth.
The Virtuous Cycle of Growth is based on the foundational premise that the more you grow revenues and reduce costs, the more resources you then have available to invest in future growth. In other words, growth generates resources that drive further growth.
To achieve sustainable growth that drives a virtuous cycle, the selected initiative needs to be gross-margin accretive. Margin expansion can be derived from increased revenues, cost reduction, or productivity improvements.
To effectively launch a blank check initiative, we should follow the 5-phase approach to Blank Check Strategy:
- Select the Best Big Bets – We should prioritize the funding of big bets that have potential growth.
- Select the Team – Not all teams are suitable for the blank check approach—we need to select people with the potential passion, and perseverance to transform their businesses.
- Define Goals & Plans – The goals and targets of the initiative need to be clearly defined—they should be quantified, aggressive, and time-bound.
- Kick Off the Blank Check Initiative – After the business plan has been clearly defined and agreed upon, the organization needs to formally “issue the check.”
- Monitor & Measure Results – Throughout implementation, it is important to set milestones for key deliverables and track performance throughout.
Interested in diving deeper into the Blank Check Strategy? We have a developed a framework presentation on Blank Check Strategy, which elaborates on all the guiding principles, pillars to success, as well as discusses each of the 5-phases to Blank Check Strategy implementation in further depth. It is a fully editable PowerPoint presentation and also also includes slide templates for you to use in your own business presentations. This, and 100s of other similar business framework presentations, are found in the FlevyPro Library.
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"Strategy without Tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without Strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu
For effective Strategy Development and Strategic Planning, we must master both Strategy and Tactics. Our frameworks cover all phases of Strategy, from Strategy Design and Formulation to Strategy Deployment and Execution; as well as all levels of Strategy, from Corporate Strategy to Business Strategy to "Tactical" Strategy. Many of these methodologies are authored by global strategy consulting firms and have been successfully implemented at their Fortune 100 client organizations.
These frameworks include Porter's Five Forces, BCG Growth-Share Matrix, Greiner's Growth Model, Capabilities-driven Strategy (CDS), Business Model Innovation (BMI), Value Chain Analysis (VCA), Endgame Niche Strategies, Value Patterns, Integrated Strategy Model for Value Creation, Scenario Planning, to name a few.
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About David TangDavid Tang is an entrepreneur and management consultant. His current focus is Flevy, the marketplace for business best practices (e.g. frameworks & methodologies, presentation templates, financial models). Prior to Flevy, David worked as a management consultant for 8 years. His consulting experience spans corporate strategy, marketing, operations, change management, and IT; both domestic and international (EMEA + APAC). Industries served include Media & Entertainment, Telecommunications, Consumer Products/Retail, High-Tech, Life Sciences, and Business Services. You can connect with David here on LinkedIn.
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