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Though provokers: how we manage strategy, our people and our organisations

This page provides a collection of though provoking posts, designed to get executives and managers thinking about how we think about our strategy, people, performance and how we manage our organisations   These thought provokers have been tested with our clients.  It covers:

  1. Strategy and how we think about strategy and manage strategy
  2. How we think about our organisations
  3. How we choose to manage our organisations
  4. Managing our people: putting human beings back into our organisations
  5. Thoughts on communicating and socialising strategy
  6. The language of management – how lazy it is and how we can improve it to improve how we communicate.
  7. Finally, some view on consultancy

Though provokers about How we think about and manage strategy

In working with clients we noticed that we reach the real strategy when we identify the tensions and dilemmas in the strategy: When we identified they two conflicting pieces that needed to be resolved. I concluded that Strategy does not exist without tensions.

I am fed up of people saying they are passionate about what they do.  Let me be clear, Passion is NOT a strategy… and here is why

Most organisations start by developing their strategy.  However there is a point of view that first you should choose your strategy towards your strategy.  Have a read of First choose your approach to strategy, then choose your strategy.

There are lots of questions asked about what makes a good strategy.  Here I suggest a different way to think about the question, “What is good strategy: A behavioural view”  this is closely related to “Strategy as a persistent pattern of behaviour

I believe there is something vital is missing from our strategy thinking.  Do you also include in your strategy, How we choose to lead and manage.

We have a strategy engagement dilemma: convince the organisation that the strategy is right, but be open to the idea it will need to change.  Here we make The case for humble strategy

How often have your heard “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  Personally I think this is a weak excuse for not having a decent strategy for culture change.  Have a read of “Does Culture eat strategy” and what is the alternative.”

You may see people saying “Nine out of ten strategies fail”. In this article I look at the origins of this false idea and what it really tells us about strategy: Do 9 out of 10 strategies really fail – I don’t think so.

So often, the ideas of a strategy, and a strategic plan are confused. A confusion that does strategy a dis-service. A strategy is different to a strategic plan.

Be careful how you interpret the ISO9000:2015 advice on Strategic Direction.  It assumes a model of strategy that has good intentions but ignores strategy as an emergent learning process.  Have a look at A strategic management perspective on ISO9000:2015 Strategic Direction

Of course you would never consider copying another organisation’s strategy, but many think about it.  Here we address “Should you copy strategy? Or must strategy be different?”  and “The dangers of copy cat strategy

On organisations and how we choose to manage them

One aspect of change we are seeing is how we manage our organisations:  I often think something is missing from our strategy thinking: How we choose to lead and manage.  More and more I am having conversations with Chief Executives and reading articles about alternate ways to mange the organisations and our people.

In the move from strategy into operations, most organisations omit to think about their system of management.  In reality, the system of management (and management systems) also affects their strategy and their organisation.  In this article I explain how out systems of management are designed to mitigate the effect of changes in the outside world from our organisational stability. We manage by absorbing friction and building up heat

We have a fundamental view about organisation: they do not exist.  The reality is that they are complex social systems.  Have a read of Organisational structures do not exist, they are myth and Organisations do not exist: think social systems

In this article I question whether we have too much ‘Management”. What would happen if we simplified things:  Have a read of Managing organisations in the same way birds flock together

One things that troubles me is the extent we adopt standard approaches to management.  for instance “measure what you want to manage” and target cultures.

I have seen a couple of articles recently about the quality of management.  This article highlights a point made by Gary Hamel, in that “Our capacity to manage, dictates our ability to improve the world.

Managing our people: putting human beings back into our organisations

A fundamental part of our underlying thinking is to treat people in organisations as smart, intelligent human beings. People operating in a social system.  Unfortunately our management language often sounds teh opposite. Have a read of Rational people, econs and Human beings and Putting human beings back into our organisations and how we manage performance

A lot is talked about having the right business model.  Far less is talked about how you think about your people in your organisation.  I suggest you should forget your business model and consider your people model.

How you think about your people will dramatically influence how you choose to manage them.  The question is, “Do you have employees, or people, in your organisation?”  Closely related to this is how we disenfranchise our people.  One way we do this is the phrase “Human Capital”  It suggests people are like capital, a commodity.  Have a read of “Human Capital: the disenfranchisement of employees.

The phrase “Work life balance” worries me bacuse it suggests life and work are separate and on opposite ends of a set of scales.  This is why I think the phrase “Work-life balance is a dangerous way to think about the issue

Organisations get hung up on purpose. Purpose is long term, future tense. However, they often miss “Meaning”.  meaningful work is work that has meaning today.  If work loses meaning today, you can forget purpose.  Understanding the difference between purpose and meaning in business and our organisations and On meaning and meaningful work, in our organisations

We think of the psychology of management as a modern idea. This article not only dispels that myth, but features a female management writer from over 100 years ago. Have a read of “The Psychology of management: taking the Long view

Thought provokers: Communicating strategy

When I wrote Communicating Strategy I wanted to challenge the thinking that caused problems.  So I wrote Ten heresies about communicating strategy.  One of them explains why I believe “All plans should be burnt

On strategy communication, his article explains why I never believed that “Only 5% of the organisation understand the strategy” and

Obviously we encourage a human face to face way of socialising strategy, rather than merely communicating strategy.  However, that does not mean we should ignore social tools.  To see how these can work, beyond the traditional organisational boundaries, have a read of “Doubts about social media in communications? This should convince you”

Thought provokers: The language of management and how we communicate

So, how did the management team come up with those six values statements that are behind reception?  And what do they expect their people to read into them?  We explore the problem of the The ten thousand and six word problem

The word Just:  One thing I tell all my clients:  Always be careful of sentences with the word, ‘Just’ in them

The use of the word Methodology: Why do people use the word “Methodology” when they mean method!  An -ology is a study of a subject.  ‘Methodology’ should be reserved for people like my who study methods and look for the patterns amongst them. Please use method or approach. (I suspect people using methodology, instead of method, are trying to sound more intelligent, but are in fact showing their ignorance),  Have a read of Methodology is not the same as method.

“Can you boil it down to a single page please”.  How often are you asked to create a really short document, when the issues are quite complex.  Here I discuss the idea and the danger: “Don’t boil it down too far – you can’t swim in sea salt“.

Though provokers and some views on consultancy

A lot of consultancy advice and websites are very good at telling you ‘what to do’ (eg manage better, communicate better, improve quality, etc.).  However, what is more important is learning how to do it. That is why we help our clients understand how they can do things for themselves after we leave.  Have a read of: Good consultancy is not simply about what to do, but how to do it.

I start from the premise that my clients are smart, intelligent and experienced managers.  They know what they are doing.  They also recognise they need some help.  However, I have come across some consultants who take a different view. This is a warning to all consultants about one consultant I once met (and hope never to meet again).  “Be careful what you believe: it will affect how you behave