Three simple thoughts on strategy…. how does your strategy compate to these ideas?
Strategy as a persistent pattern of behaviour.
- If someone says they do not have a strategy, I will ask, “So what has been the persistent pattern of behaviour of the organisation over the past few years?” What I am looking for is “Strategy in action” as opposed to the “Strategy in plans, or as talked about (Strategy as espoused)”.
- Strategy as persistent behaviour is one of the most useful questions to tease out change, because you can then ask, “How should the/our persistent behaviour change over the next few years?”
- What has been your organisation’s persistent pattern of behaviour? Is that persistent pattern of behaviour action, consistent with the strategy as talked about, and that intended over the next few years?
Strategy as a habit (or even an addiction)
- The flipside of ‘strategy as a persistent pattern of behaviour’, is that the strategy behaviour becomes a habit. It is what we are used to doing, so we persist in it. It becomes habitual. We do it without thinking (or perhaps even realising).
- To provoke thought I usually show this with an ash-tray (smoking as a habit). Recently a client suggested that smoking was more than merely a habit: it was an addiction. It made me realise that that some organisations might have a mere habit, but an addiction to their chosen strategy. Being so obsessed with it being right, being so dependent on it, that the choice is never questioned or changed.
- I trust your strategy is a good habit, not a bad habit, (and certainly not an addiction).
- On the radio last week, an economist saying how economists should be more humble, and less absolutely certain, about their economic forecasts. It occurred to me that the same applies to those developing a strategy.
- Of course we have a dilemma. We want to create enthusiasm and certainty an confidence on our teams. Yet ay the same time, we know that there are uncertainties and assumptions in our strategy – and that stuff happens. The challenge is perhaps, to recognise and acknowledge the uncertainties. Yet at the same time progress clearly down a path that will uncover and expose them as certain or not.
- I quite like the idea of humble strategy.
A final thought on strategy and levels of learning
From a ‘strategy as a learning process’ perspective, there are two pieces here:
- How do we learn whether our strategy is working? (First order learning)
- How do we learn when it is time to change the strategy? (Second order learning)
Simply something to provoke some thoughts. Talk soon.