There is considerable debate about strategy, both ongoing or as part of a new initiative or launch . Company or project strategy needs to linked, or support the “Vision” . It can take time to build a strategy, especially if you are working in a complex environment, multiple inputs and/or multiple stakeholders. If we want to achieve ROI on our strategy, it needs to be understandable , drive employee engagement, involve an element of cultural transformation and be executable. The cultural transformation is the hardest piece, because this will require individuals to change. People are creatures of habit, and don’t like change. Significant change always pushes people out side their personal comfort zones. There is an argument that says we can get our strategy to fit our current culture, but there is a high chance in the rapidly changing market place, we will end up sub optimising our strategy. I recently heard a great quote in a presentation, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”.
So how do we effect the “Cultural Transformation” ? I view cultural transformation as the synthesis of 3 key elements. Firstly we need improved systems, which is the transnational piece of work. We then need people to behave in a different way, or make a behavioural shift. The first two need to be supported by passion or energy, which is the “engine room” for the required change. Those at the top, or responsible for the strategy need to be passionate, and their passion must be visible. In my experience passion generally propagates by osmosis. The behavioural shift is achieved through, training, capability building, coaching and role modelling which can take a significant period of time. If we are going to enact the strategy , the plans that support it need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time Based). If you think about that acronym, we actually need the plans to be “Lean”, i.e. minimal wastage and fit for purpose. An effective strategy can be visualised as the 3 cogs of Vision, People Engagement and Cultural Transformation meshed together.
A strategy that does not have the elements of vision, people engagement, and cultural transformation, will have a higher probability of failure or re-drafting. Having to re-draft a strategy, or move it away from its natural evolution, is a significant waste of time and money. With these elements in place, then there is a good chance that the strategy will succeed, but it could take 3-5 years.