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An open source strategy could work as well for some companies as it has in R&D and product development, by bringing in the best external strategic thinking.
It is now generally recognised that strategic thinking is not the exclusive preserve of the CEO, or even top management. Most businesses are so complex that no-one has a complete picture of the business in their head, even the very talented and highly compensated boss.
Instead, businesses only getting close to strategic reality by putting together multiple perspectives from different departments and levels, reaching all the way down to the front line facing customers every day. This is why many companies have created “strategic leadership groups”, combining bold thinkers across many functions and seniorities.
It is possible to go even further than this. Although we have created the most diverse thinking group we can, the weakness of these strategic leadership groups is that all members are employees of the company, and will have common blindspots.
Strategic experiments are the right way to manage an increasingly uncertain business environment where analysis and planning do not work any more. Shift your strategic actions towards failing early, often and cheaply.
In a business environment with little uncertainty, strategy is about climbing the mountain in front of you. Analysis can point the way to the “best” answer, then you can launch the whole company towards executing it with a robust 3 year strategic plan, with everyone determine and accountable for achieving it.
Unfortunately, there are now few businesses where this approach still works well. The uncertainties of digital technology and changing customer habits have crept into even the most traditional industries like construction and retail. requiring them to rely less on analysis and planning in crafting strategy.
To prepare your organisation for a digital future, it has to move fast at scale. You can only achieve this if you eliminate the complexity from every part of your organisation.
Every organisation leaves a trail behind it. Some new things fail to live up to their promise, some things that used to work become obsolete. Unlike Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand or Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest, no natural force exists to terminate activity within a company. They will linger on dying a slow death – and there will always be someone will always fight for their persistence, avoiding unsettling change or acknowledging failure.
This means that management have to wield the scalpel with their own hands.
You communicate your strategy to competitors when you share it publicly. Use this opportunity to tell them what you want them to know about your strategy; others things you must keep secret.
One of the roles of top management is communicating their strategy. You communicate internally to align your own organisation, and external communication will be to investors, customers, business partners and competitors. Don’t expect to send different messages to each – they can all access your equity research and investor relations pages!
When designing your communication, consider what you want your competitors to hear?
One of the most powerful ways for a leader to impact their culture is to kill jargon stone dead and encourage clear business communication across their team
The scariest part of the Dilbert Mission Statement generator (www.dilbert.com) is how familiar the phrases generated appear to us. It is easy to fill a whole presentation with impressive sounding language, that collectively, means nothing.
We are recommending a disruptive, customer-centric solution, that leverages our core competences.
And none of the audience dares to say that the Emperor has no clothes for fear that others will think them ignorant.
This jargon is not harmless, it obscures real communication. It means something different to everyone.