“Strategy” is a word bandied around by businesses on a daily basis. Fundamentally, it’s become a simple term, part of the “business jargon brigade”.
The nuances of great strategy are lost to many, cheapened by the short course mentality of “this is easy”. After all, who knows my business better than I do?
The truth is there is no one that understands your business better than you do. However, when you’re the only source of inspiration, your business is on the path to failure.
If strategy emanates from only one source – the risks of idea fatigue, poor implementation and business stagnation are very real dangers. Don’t get me wrong, great strategic direction could be derived from one source, but must always be shaped by the organisation.
Strategy is an inclusive approach not reserved for “C” Suite executives.
There is a fallacy in business that expects the “C-suite” to deliver the strategy in its entirety. The result of this expectation is that even great strategy is relegated to the top draw, only to be hauled out every couple of years, dusted off and then put back. Why? Because the “C-suite” is often viewed as being out of touch with the areas of operation.
Excuses are advanced as to why things weren’t done, with very little attention given to the fact that months or years have passed before this realisation occurs. This is indicative of the poor nature of strategy formulation and execution.
We have a strategy because the manual says so
My greatest fear is the above statement. I meet businesses on a daily basis that have a strategy, but when asked about their implementation plan and deliverables, I’m met with nothing but stunned silence. They hear the words and know that there should be an answer but most often it’s an assumption-based response.
They assume that just because the edict has been delivered, that the business is joyfully implementing it. The truth is, the business is simply continuing with their day-to-day operations and their organisations have fallen into the check-box mentality of “we have a strategy, look here it is!”
The elephant in the room has been ignored
The personalities required to deliver have been sidelined and the strategy is blamed (“we knew it wouldn’t work”). Failure to implement is in fact the primary reason for strategic failure. Yet most businesses refuse to admit this.
The reality is, when correctly analysed, all successful strategic plans have a single common denominator: they were all implemented correctly.
This implementation in turn features some key indicators: they had the correct feedback mechanisms, regular review processes, correctly allocated project drivers and buy-in from all parties (even those at risk).
I may be accused of some “link baiting” with regards to the title of this article but it’s an important topic that needs to be addressed. We need to see strategic debate moving to the top of our agendas and becoming the driving force behind all of our business decision-making processes.