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Strategic Planning For Santa Claus

by Tom Wright, on Dec 25, 2019 5:32:00 AM

What Would Strategic Planning For Santa Claus Look Like?

As we come to the close of the year, I've been reflecting on all the different clients we’ve worked with on strategy. There's been such a variety of industries, markets and organizations - and it got me thinking about how strategic planning is at the core of most things we do. Even Christmas. So in the holiday spirit I've had a little fun and did some strategic planning for Santa Claus.

Aside from the fact that Santa may not exist, the brand behind Santa Claus and Christmas certainly does. From that perspective, he is the ultimate brand ambassador for Christmas. With that in mind and the market shifts that surround the season, it would make sense for Santa to have a clear strategic plan. In fact, there is no way he could deliver all those toys in one night without one!

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We began strategic planning for Santa Claus by taking a quick look at the people who run Christmas & Co.:

Santa Claus is obviously the CEO. You then have a board of directors consisting of Mrs. Claus (Head of Culture and HR), The Snowman (Chairman), Jack Frost (Operations), The Grinch (Customer Relations) and Scrooge (CFO).

Check them out on Cascade's org charting tool here (image below):

Strategic Planning For Santa Claus

If we head over to the strategy and planning part of Cascade, we can begin to build our strategy. First is the vision: "To spread plenty of cheer and joy". We could even add a video here of Santa explaining the vision, with a bit of "ho ho ho!" for good measure!

santa vision

The values for Christmas & Co. as a brand would be fairly obvious and I don't pretend to know the exact ones, but if I had to guess, they would revolve around fun, passion, enthusiasm, and innovation.

They are in the VFMCG space (VERY fast moving consumer goods), and have the logistical challenge of delivering millions of toys in a single night! If this wasn't enough of a challenge, they operate globally and from their headquarters in the North Pole (which is probably not the most central location). Christmas & Co. delivers on its brand promise through the manufacture AND delivery of toys to children who satisfy the 'naughty or nice' criteria. They do this through a sophisticated and somewhat magical end-to-end supply chain:


Mining of raw materials


Design and manufacture of toys by elves in the North Pole facility


Both product packaging and wrapping paper


25th of December, custom distribution process which includes reindeers, sleigh, magic sac, chimneys,  milk and cookies.


Children playing with delivered toys on Christmas day and boxing day


Cycle ends with product disposal (most of which takes place within 2 weeks of Christmas)

Putting the seemingly impossible task of delivering millions of toys worldwide from the most remote location on earth aside, there are a number of changes that Christmas & Co. must prepare for in order to stay true to its vision. While strategic planning for Santa Claus there were a number of global issues that present real challenges to the future of the brand that we came across. These include:

  • Climate change: Increased atmospheric carbon will cause temperatures to rise possibly melting ice caps. This would have an immediate effect on the manufacturing capabilities from the North Pole.
  • Resource scarcity: The availability of raw resources is limited and this will have an impact on the manufacturing process.
  • Population growth: There will be an estimated extra 2 billion people by 2050, so that also means more children.
  • Urban infrastructure: As more and more apartments are built, chimneys are becoming a luxury. This has an impact on the delivery method.
  • Health and nutrition: Diets that are high in sugar or fat are of concern to health experts. Leaving lollies along with the presents in the stockings may incur a backlash from public opinion (plus Santa tends to indulge in the cookies and milk left for him at each house).
  • Belief: The Christmas spirit has seen a decline over the years. Commercialization, media, and marketing have had a negative effect and many children just don't believe in Santa anymore.
  • Naughty & Nice list: There seems to be an increasing amount of noise around the list. Concerns about the cut off time and what exactly fits into the naughty & nice model could have an effect on manufacturing and distribution.

Santa's Focus Areas

Now that we have an idea of some of the challenges Santa faces, we can start plotting the key focus areas for the business: Toy quality control, sustainable operations, transparent and fair 'naughty or nice' list, and customer satisfaction & belief.

santa focus areas

Santa's Organizational Goals

The next step we went about while strategic planning for Santa Claus was to start adding key organizational goals under each focus area. The great thing about Cascade is that it allows us to visually see the goals in each focus area, encouraging the even distribution of organizational goals across the business. Cascade also allows you to quickly view these key goals in a Gantt format, which is help immediately identify where project or goal clashes may occur.

santa progress view

You can even quickly see the progress on each goal by simply ticking a box.

Santa's Reporting

Having to manufacture millions of toys requires a massive workforce, it also means that managing these teams can be daunting, let alone reporting on goals, projects, and tasks... The Snapshot reporting tool would certainly alleviate some of reporting burdens on every level. Not only can Santa's direct reports generate quick snapshots of where they are in terms of progress before a meeting with the big man in the red suit, but individuals can also use the tool to report on their own progress!

santas report snapshots

Lastly, Santa Claus himself has the ability to check out his progress on an awesome Cascade Christmas Dashboard. This could include the number of toys built thus far, the number of nice kids & naughty kids, material availability, sustainable projects, NPS, etc...

Santa is not the only one that can have a dashboard of course. Every single elf at Christmas & Co. HQ can have their own dashboard with all the relevant data, projects, goals and event tasks in front of them so that they can stay on target, but more importantly, forecast potential challenges ahead in regard to the focus areas.

santas dashboard

Strategic Planning For Santa Claus

OK ok, I get it - strategic planning for Santa Claus isn't the most serious example of strategic planning you'll have come across this year. does go to show that no matter what you're working to achieve; be it delivering MILLIONS of toys in a single night or selling more coffees at a cafe - starting with a strategic plan is fundamental to achieving your goals, no matter who you are. This is probably the greatest strength of Cascade. It not only empowers business heads but it also allows everyone with access to the software to contribute in a meaningful way, and feel part of something bigger.

Happy holidays everyone! Regardless of your beliefs, I want to wish everyone all the best for 2020! And an extra special thanks to our very own Elf Squad: Jingle-Jane, MincePie-Maddy and Prancing-Pat - who did 98% of the awesome work on this article! :)

(btw: If you are questioning the validity of delivering millions of presents in one night, I’m with you… although Dr. Larry Silverberg has a theory).

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