The way we use strategy is changing. In simple, stable environments the cirulation of an annual set of amorphous decks might have been enough. If an established company had a winning product or service, there was little risk of encountering major roadblocks. If any hurdles were detected, there was more time to formulate a response and react.
But in the digital economy the stakes have changed. Time is compressed, competition comes from everywhere and most industries are vulnerable to disruption. Subsequently, a well-formulated, well-communicated & widely adopted strategy has now becomes a crucial success factor.
Reflecting on my many years work within complex transformations in regulated environments, I believe that the most successful strategies are NOT those are the most accurate or insightful. They are approaches that:
- Take very firm positions on the bets that the company is making.
- Paint a vivid vision of the desired end state.
- Clearly set out the overarching structures and capabilities that are needed to achieve the desired vision.
The idea is that messaging is crystal clear & can be simple enough to be understood at each and every level. This leads to quicker decision making and feedback that provide opportunities to test the validity of the core stategy.
The three components of a well-formulated strategy
To achieve the firmness and clarity, there are a few critical components that must exist. I believe these should be reenforced and developed irrespective of the market or context. These are:
- The Vision: Describing where are we going and why. Including:
- Ideas & language that viscerally bring the future to life.
- The Future Objectives and Key Metrics.
- Shared principles that unite all components of the strategy.
- The Operating Model: Detailing how are we structured to get there? Including:
- The structures & processes set in place.
- Key decision-making & feedback points.
- The detailed description of the first next step.
- The Capabilities: _Explaining the resources that we need to achieve the vision? _This includes:
- Calling out the existing resources that will need be enhanced.
- Detailing the plan for accessing & developing new capabilities.
The four structural elements of a strong strategy
Furthermore, any valuable strategy needs to answer the “what next” question. A good execution structure is critical to translate and excute but and also critically provide the ground intelligence required for prioritisation, decision-making and ongoing adjustments. These 4 structural elements are:
- The Strategy Steering Committee needed to:
- Translate the strategy to specific teams and initiatives.
- Identify and invest in large programs.
- Review overall progress.
- Define and communicate priorities.
- Serve an executive sponsors of team initiatives.
- An Enablement Group that can:
- Provide execute and leadership coaching.
- Provide technical training for teams to be self-sufficient.
- Can deploy resources such as experitise, coaching and infrastructure to teams.
- Event Management that can schedule sessions to:
- Communicate and align the group on strategy and progress.
- Provide ongoing workshops to provide teams assistance to achieve their objectives as well as capture knowlwedge.
- Establish strong communities that work on building capabilities & skills to achieve the strategy.
- The Local Strategy & Execution teams that are bottom-up initiatives that can:
- Design, deliver & execute local initiatives.
- Provide well-considered feedback through multiple layers such as communities, SteerCo, team management & workshops.
- Measure progress.
While different sources and organisations use differing terminology & compositions, I believe that, at a minimum, these are the types of structures and components for any successful strategic yield.
Ensuring that each of these areas are well-addressed and communciation as early as possible may be the difference between huge success or catalysmic failure.