We need to live our strategy intensely

I wanted to bring to these pages some thoughts regarding the implementation of strategic plans and how it is experienced within organisations. Frequently, it is said that the success of a strategy lies 10% in its design, and 90% in its implementation. My experience as a strategy consultant has shown me that a large part of strategic design is sadly not experienced intensely enough, if at all, by the people within the organisation.

The essence of strategic design is to furnish both meaning and a sense of direction to an organisation's activity as it looks to the future. This process involves three key stages: Set the parameters and direction; as soon as potential routes are formulated, turn them into tangible realities and finally, assign resources in a sufficiently efficient manner as to make implementation and development viable.

Irrespective of the level of participation in the formulation phase, the members of an organisation frequently experience a kind of 'short circuit', which in turn, obstructs the effective design and implementation of a shared project, one truly experienced by all those involved when it is set into motion.

From my point of view, a large part of this initial distancing is a consequence of how the 'strategy narrative' is shared at the heart of the organisation, along with the way in which mechanisms are chosen to define objectives, projects and actions during the course of this narrative. What we need to do is to simplify the message, make it accessible to everyone, and then, provide the appropriate mechanisms with which people may 'live' and enrich the plan on a day-to-day basis.

In addition, the strategic design or plan must be at the core of the decision-making process, and therefore, it must be explained and acted upon across the board within the company's management. In other words, the question 'What for?' must be asked within every area of an organisation if we expect to act in harmony, and with a common philosophy and framework.

In order to achieve a successful outcome, we must come up with mechanisms and tools which both enrich thinking processes and systematically assess those processes. The current economic climate, however, now makes for shifting elements which determine competitive business environments far more than in times past. As a result, we are obliged to create a space within the company for ongoing reappraisal and assessment of the impact of external forces, as well as for facilitating dialogue aimed at enriching the project. Strategy is an organic, living creature who must place the entire value of an organisation at the service of the future of the business plan.

I believe that we cannot shy away from mobilising our own organisation and creating a shared project, which in my opinion, must consist of: a sense of direction, guiding behavioural principles, and of course, the shared experience of all those involved in the organisation.

Read the original article in El Economista (Spanish).

Sabin Azua

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