To Strategize Or Not To Strategize?
Every year, organizations hold strategic sessions to decide the direction for the year. Some move staff to 5-star hotels and serene environments to ignite “fresh ideas” for a fresh start of the year. While all this is good, the puzzling question has been, what really goes into a strategic session? Is it another meeting to add to the existing objectives? An opportunity to galvanize staff to work harder? OR just the routine listen-in meetings to Management’s directives? This apparently simple question requires a careful consideration of the organization’s vision/theme for the year and aligning it to that of the unit and the team.
Where to Start From?
Lee Bolman rightly said, “A vision without a strategy remains an illusion”. This brings to mind Ryan Shupe’s song “When you dream, dream Big” that took over the airwaves some years back. What Ryan failed to tell us was what to do after dreaming big? It is good to dream big or have a vision, but it is better to back them with actions and strategies. Else it will remain tucked in your memory or diary.
Every effective strategic session starts with an objective, then a strategy and tactic to meet that objective. For instance, we facilitated a session for a company whose theme for the year was- Achieving World Class Status through Consolidation of Operational Performance. Our first point of call to the staff, was the importance of knowing the strategic direction of the year for the company, knowing the organization, and consulting key units and departments before curating strategies to match the theme given. In the case of this company, it will be impossible for let’s say the Business Development Manager to develop good strategies without first finding out from the IT unit and Finance Department what technological tools the firm will acquire to aid with work.
One of the most critical responsibilities of a Unit Manager is to formulate and implement strategies to meet the overall goal of the organization. Every strategy that is developed must be tied to the organization’s existing values. This can be done by Researching and identifying strategic options, Selecting the most promising options, and then Deciding how resources will be allocated across the organization to achieve objectives.
Follow this 3-step process in business strategy development
At MGA Consulting, we believe that any strategy, whether business or personal, needs to answer three fundamental questions:
a. Where are you now?
b. Where do you want to be?
c. How do we get there?
Based on the responses to the questions above, you act on the 3-step process which is:
1. Formulate the strategy- Categorize the strategies
2. Implement the strategy- Assign responsibilities, state deadlines, resources needed etc.
3. Control- Using KPIs, Meetings, Reports etc.
Good Vs. Bad Strategy
Having looked at best practices in the field, our firm believes any good strategy should:
a. Be simple and obvious.
b. Include actions to take to overcome the challenges.
c. Identify key challenges to overcome.
d. Be coherent and concentrate efforts to achieve an outcome.
A bad strategy on the other hand:
a. Fails to identify the nature of the challenges.
b. bad strategy mistakes goals, ambition, vision, values, and effort for strategy.
c. It is just a list of “priorities” that don’t support each other.
As a Research oriented Consultancy, we recognize that a shift towards flexibility and novelty is here to stay. Managers and Unit Heads need to purposely create strategies that can be implemented. More importantly, create strategies that respond to things both they and their team members can do. Remember it is impossible to develop as a company without looking at what others are doing and the best practices. The next time you organize a strategic session, we hope these points will prove very useful.