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Insight 3: Communicating strategy is not enough: Strategy needs to be socialised

This insight is part is a series of six insights into strategy, people and performance, derived from working with my clients in 2013.

Ever since I started talking about strategy being socialised, not merely communicated, clients have got it.  They get the difference.  They realise how much deeper and more fundamental it is to socialise a strategy, and what it means for them.

What does it mean to ‘socialise your strategy’

Well let’s start with the phrase “Socialising strategy” (Or “socializing strategy” for our US cousins). Its interesting how this immediately puts a different emphasise on what is happening. It is no longer about getting the message out (Communicating). It is about the social impact and the conversation within groups, and amongst people, about the strategy.

Socialising strategy suggests that the strategy becomes part of a conversation amongst people that has a life of its own. Individuals are owning a part of it, talking to each other about it and adopting and adapting what it means for them.

Socialising strategy also suggests that it becomes part of the social fabric. It is part of the way people work, what they do, what they say, how they behave, and what they believe.

Socialising strategy suggests it has a life of its own amongst those people.

Socialising strategy is more powerful than mere communication

It is interesting how this phrase seems to convey so much more that communicating strategy. It also gets beyond the glib phrase “Culture” to a far more specific meaning than, “We want our strategy to reflect our culture” or “We want our culture to drive our strategy” With “socialising strategy” we are describing how it becomes a part of the way people work and think and behave.

It is also a more explicit instruction to management. Rather than suggesting managers need to “Communicate the strategy” (which is an action for them), they are responsible for “socialising the strategy” which is a response from other people. In other words, instructing a management team to “Socialise their strategy” means that the emphasis is not just on communication, but on how people respond to the communication and behave as a result.