You strategy is pointless.
That’s a bold statement to make, especially if you’re making a living discussing company strategy with Fortune 500 companies on a daily basis. But hear me out. The statement may be bold, but it’s not any less true for it. You’re not giving yourself an advantage if your entire focus is on long-term planning, mid-term planning, discussing external forces, opportunities and threats, in short: strategizing.
Why, you may ask? Because the best strategy is pointless, if you can’t communicate it to your teams, rally them behind a joint purpose, break down the strategy into digestable short-term goals and make sure that every last person in your organization knows exactly what their role is, their job to do, and the impact they’re supposed to have in the big confusing jumble that is any organization. What I mean is that your strategy is pointless, if you have no way of executing it. And executing it fast.
In the last 3 years, from May 2020, to May 2023, how many times did you change your priorities? How many times did the entire world around you change within the blink of an eye, and you were left wondering how you’re supposed to navigate the ship in the yet-again-stormy-seas of the early 20s of this millenia. At the core of this challenge is the ability of any organization to react to external (or internal changes), refocus on a new goal, reorganize around it, and start working against it. As a concept, this is not new, and it’s usually referred to as change.
Harvard Business Review dissects this concepts neatly in the spring print issue 2022 and walk the reader through nine ‘Elements of change power’, to try to find an answer to the question (and the title of the article): “How Good Is Your Company at Change?”.
Read the article for a deep dive on the 9 elements and how to to measure your own organization against it.
At the end, they conclude that most organizations fall into one of the four common archetypes:
- in search of focus
- stuck and skeptical
- aligned but constrained
- struggling to keep up
Unique in their characteristics and challenges, each archetype struggles in one of the following four aspects:
- Clear goals that inspire the teams on all levels, (HBR refers to these as the elements ‘Purpose’ and ‘Direction’)
- Alignment between those goals with accountability and ownership (‘Connection’, ‘Capacity’ Choreography’)
- Goals that are not tethered to projects but goals that allow teams to reiterate on their work in an agile fashion to provide the most impact (‘Flexibility’)
- The operating model underneath to repeat these changes successfully time and time again (described as the elements ‘scaling’, ‘development’, and ‘action’).
As you know, those four aspects above are core tenents of Objectives and Key Results and the Outcome Mindset Method – an operating model designed by WorkBoard and implemented together with Wave Nine across the world.
So, if you strategy is pointless, what then is the point? It’s your ability to change, your ability to execute, your ability to ever-adapt to the never-ending stream of challenges that global economics, politics, climate and of course market players raise and your company has to weather – if not use to strive. Read the HBR Article “How Good Is Your Company at Change?” from the Harvard Business Review if you’d like to learn more about how to measure your companies ability to change and come speak with my colleagues at Wave Nine to then learn how you can overcome these challenges – no matter which of the four common archetypes apply to your organization.