More strategies fail than succeed. However the causes of failure are no surprise. Here we explore the 4 killer flaws of strategy and how to avoid them.
The first killer flaw of tradition strategy (what we call SLOW strategy) and probably the most deadly is the the separation of strategy from reality. The image explains it well, it is where those who create the strategy have their heads in the clouds. Strategies are set behind a desk – far removed from the marketplace.
The aspirations and visions set are great, but they amount to little or nothing because execution or implementation is divorced from planning. It is essential to blend strategy and action – that is where the rubber meets the road.
The second biggest problem with strategy is inextricably linked to the first. It is the ‘Moses Model’ where the leader goes off to discover the strategy, writes it in stone and then proclaims it to the masses. But people cannot simply be handed a strategy – there needs to be engagement, ownership and buy-in if the strategy is going to work.
A bottom-up approach is required – strategy can no longer be decided by one (or a few people) at the top. The ability of your organization to engage in an effective dialogue around performance and strategy is key – that is called a ‘strategic conversation‘.
The third killer flaw with traditional strategy is the over-reliance of left-brain linear thinking. Yes an MBA and Porter’s models can be a help in crafting strategy, but lots of information and analysis is not enough.
Coping with fast change and an unpredictable future requires a more holistic approach. Engaging the right brain is essential. It requires blending desk research, consultants reports and written plans, with creative problem solving, open dialogue, real world experimentation and rapid learning. New insights are more important than tons of data and keeping an open mind and engaging multiple perspectives and alternative strategies is key. Above all strategy must engage with people’s passion and imagination.
Managers can’t pursue a rigid strategy from which they can’t deviate. Strategy should show the way, but allow flexibility in its implementation. It should be the barriers on the side of the road guiding managers, rather than a railway track.