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Journal cover: Handbook of Business Strategy

Handbook of Business Strategy

ISSN: 1077-5730
Currently published as: Business Strategy Series

Online from: 2000

Subject Area: Strategy

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Making strategic planning work: a case study of Countrywide Financial

Document Information:
Title:Making strategic planning work: a case study of Countrywide Financial
Author(s):Eric Flamholtz, (Professor of Management in The Anderson School at UCLA and President of the Management Systems Consulting Corporation that he founded in 1978. He can be reached at, Stanford Kurland, (President and Chief Operating Officer of Countrywide Financial Corporation (NYSE: CFC). He is also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for its main subsidiary, Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. He also serves as Chairman for all subsidiaries of Countrywide Financial Corporation.)
Citation:Eric Flamholtz, Stanford Kurland, (2006) "Making strategic planning work: a case study of Countrywide Financial", Handbook of Business Strategy, Vol. 7 Iss: 1, pp.187 - 193
Keywords:Corporate strategy, Organizational change, Strategic planning
Article type:Case study
DOI:10.1108/10775730610618800 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – Strategic planning is a misunderstood and maligned managerial tool. Most organizations have tried it but relatively few actually achieve success in strategic planning.

Design/methodology/approach – The experience of Countrywide Financial Corporation demonstrates how strategic planning can be used as a key lever for change and describes the benefits that accrued to it through this process. Stanford Kurland, the Company’s COO, engaged Eric Flamholtz to assist with developing a more sophisticated approach to strategic planning at Countrywide. Flamholtz introduced: a template for organizational assessment and development; and a systematic process for strategic planning that had been applied elsewhere with considerable success. The new planning process s became a corporate priority.

Findings – The planning system has also led to a variety of other significant organizational benefits including: a constructive forum for elevating management’s focus from tactical and operational concerns to broader strategic challenges; a shift away from a “silo mentality” to a “Countrywide perspective”; a clear set of priorities to guide operating unit activities and decision-making; measurable objectives that emphasize linkages across organizational boundaries; and greater understanding and communication of the plan throughout the organization.

Originality/value – Kurland was focused on longer-range issues for the company, but most of the other members of Countrywide’s senior management were more focused on short-term competitive success in their own divisions. It led to significant changes and benefits at Countrywide, including a strategic shift in corporate direction.

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