Strategy & What Makes It Work
by M. Anthony Sacco of Stratalyne Business Solutions, LLC
Yesterday, in between meetings, I stopped at Barnes & Noble, where I spent a while browsing the shelves of the “Business Section”. What caught my eye and my interest was the book, Strategy by S. Crainer and D. Dearlove (McGraw Hill Education, 2014). In the first chapter, it explains that strategy is understood as a multi-faceted concept. For instance, there is Corporate Strategy that addresses the Organization through its Vision and Mission (internally and client facing). Also, there is Business Strategy that deals with SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and, in turn, addresses Competitive Advantage.
In addition, the book goes on to say, there are strategy perspectives. One respected expert, Michael Porter, boils it down to opportunities for new products, markets, and industries that develop out of how you choose and then play the game. Then, another strategy analysis, by Costas Markides of the London Business School, talks about strategic balance of content and process/analysis and creativity considering the dynamics within a diverse multi-directional approach. Final example for now, Henry Mintzberg (of McGill University) spoke of strategy as a pattern in a stream of decisions.
But what struck me most in this first chapter was this: Chris Zook (Bain & Company) referenced a survey of some 300,000 employees (in Europe) who were asked about their knowledge of the strategies in the companies where they worked. The results indicated that 60% of the respondents had no idea what their company’s strategies were. Was the strategic planning an intellectual exercise or a mechanism for change? No matter how you develop strategy, it must be embedded into the activity and direction of the organization to be successfully implemented.
So, no matter which theory or perspective drives strategy in your organization, I think clear and complete communication throughout the organization is one key strategic concept that must be included for success. In fact, with my clients, I use a process that includes all of the methods and perspectives over an 8 to 10 session process capped off with the delivery of a communication device at the transition point of starting to roll out the resulting initiatives. And, it seems to work by creating the necessary engagement.