Recently presented at conference the current trends of “strategy execution”; how to make strategy work! One of the simple observations is that terms may sometimes be not too well defined, like do people actually differentiate between “strategy formulation” (what is the best strategy?) versus “strategy execution” (what is the best implementation of it?). Among the key take-aways we have taken the following three ones for this blog post:
Strategy execution needs to move into behavior. We may choose another word, but to make an organization empowered to absorb a new strategy, it is crucial that such strategy is broken down into themes, elements and behavior: “What can I do differently when I go to work?”. Most people like to contribute to the bigger picture, so it is important that strategies are not always broken into programs, projects and tasks! That may work for closed-ended initiatives. But for open-ended strategies, it should be broken down to themes, elements and behavior. This is where strategy meets culture. Projects may be part of a strategy, but the human element is often much more important for the long-term change. Strategy execution at heart is about changing behavior. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, as said by Peter Drucker. So only by changing the culture, creating target behavior will it be possible to change the culture and succeed with larger changes.
Strategy should be less PowerPoints. The challenge is that when PowerPoints are seen as “plans”, then the strategy becomes quite static, not empowered to the many, and not iterated with messaging and experiments to work well. A successful strategy execution needs to leave the PowerPoint phase and move into a connected insight where the future best-practice is established around the future offerings and desired objectives. Leaving a PowerPoint also means it is possible to make insight and alive strategies that track changes and initiatives. This is where information modelling and scenario planning is much more relevant technologies than project tools. Projects may be part of strategy, but the key focus should be on the value creation and outcomes, not so much on projects and their performance.
Context is king. Even the best execution will not be able to ignore the fact that most people are busy as they go to work. Only by working with behavior and context, it is possible to provide the environment for people to contribute to the change. We are often impacted by the situation, by the way context is presented. Hence, if the objective and rational plans do not take into consideration the irrational and human behavior, the business of people in daily work-life, then the plans will often be useless, whereas the planning and insight to experiments will be much more supportive to fulfill the change.
And while strategy planning becomes a living estate, the pendulum swings back to central knowledge, democratized input, for all the dots that need to be connected in a larger enterprise as the execution is empowered. This is where information management is key to support the ongoing iterations and impact.
We often advocate that for companies who are interested in big change, they should start to map out the themes and choose strategy elements of the inner game, outer game or customer focused theme.
One may see the digitization as a pre-burner or enabler for the digital transformation. With digitization we see the consistent paradigm of electrifying the processes to obtain better processes. This is clearly a playground on its own, where we can help you to get transparency to business processes, optimize the processes and secure leaner and more efficient business operations. This theme will keep the paradigm of the current business operations and trim it.
This also means, that digitization is disjoint from the digital transformation where elements like disruption, IoT and AI are considered. Working with new models, new blueprints, there is quite another risk, and also a larger need to use scenario-based planning. Long-live the planning that supports models such as digital twins. This is where we can guide you!
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