Strategy as miniature images and maps of a business (2)

As a natural progression from last week, this week’s blog delves into the ‘making’ of miniature strategy.

We have explored in past blogs the conventional and hybrid (the in-between) strategy making approaches. We now shift our conversation to discussing discontinuous strategy making. We have to ask the question: ‘how do companies create viable strategy under conditions where new strategy barely lasts a week?’

As illustrated below, the extreme end of the strategy making continuum is quickly becoming a reality in business. Of course, the traditional manager’s likely reaction is that this is far fetched and is never likely to happen. Well, all we can do is to advise such managers to heed the message that effective strategy making has shifted to the extreme right of the strategy making continuum.

Strategy Design Continuum

Strategy designers can adopt a position on the left of the continuum, the middle or hybrid position, or the extreme right. It’s like the political left – center right – and extreme right. The extreme left approaches strategy making in a traditional, linear and boxed manner. The hybrid position takes cognizance of the fact that the business environment is turbulent and that strategy making has to adapt to an acceptable level of looseness. The extreme right and the focus of this blog is about making ‘broken,’ discontinuous’ or ‘piece-meal’ strategy.  The even tougher reality is that such piece-meal strategy has to fit into the long-term survival vision for the organization. It’s similar to being asked to design an aircraft part today, that will fit an aircraft of the future that has not been designed.

To successfully design discontinuous strategy tantamounts to coping with the manifestations of ‘on and off’ and ‘broken’ strategy making.  It’s akin to going home at the end of the day, not knowing what may hit you tomorrow and even force you to close shop

Last week’s blog closed on the note that:

‘We, therefore, submit on this blog that ‘small’ and ‘discontinuous’ thinking may get companies much more effective strategy outcomes than holistic thinking. You no longer need a fat-book, full of forecasted scenarios and responses, to deliver an effective strategy.

Businesses need leaders and staff with:

  • the mindset and competence to perceive the A-Z of the individual business value chain, but at the same time understand the chain’s brokenness
  • the knack to not only seamlessly break the business value-chain into minute sub-elements but also develop tailored miniature business solutions
  • and finally, the boldness to recognize that the fluid nature of the business environment has relegated fat-book strategy approaches to the bin.’

It’s clear from the above that the bionic entity theory is at play again. The four organizational vitals (OV’s) – Leadership, Strategy, Design, and People are required in different quantum to deliver a viable miniature strategy.

Miniature strategy success requires leaders and teams (People) with the right mindset; a mastery of the subelements of the value chain (design) and how they influence strategy on a daily basis; and of-course strategy itself, albeit, of a broken nature.

Organisational viability accrues when we consider a multiplicity as opposed to a handful of OV’s. It’s the bionic entity at work

The difference between conventional/hybrid and miniature strategy design approaches:

Successful strategy delivery gets actualized between two main extremes – one is strategy-design and the other execution.  The two extremes need to be juxtaposed to understand how miniatures strategists go about designing strategy

Design:

In a recent blog, the Effectiveness lab discussed iedunote’s 9 steps for conventional/hybrid strategy making

1. Planning Awareness
2. Formulating Goals
3. Analyzing the External Environment
4. Analyzing Internal Environment (or own organizational resources)
5. Identifying Strategic Opportunities and Threats
6. Performing the Gap Analysis
7. Developing Alternative Strategies
8. Implementing Strategy
9. Measuring and Controlling Progress

Ideally, steps one to nine above will be done over one long or various shorter meetings, culminating in the so-called company strategic plan.

A significant difference between the conventional/hybrid and the miniature approaches to strategy design is that the former mostly assumes that the A-Z of strategy can be forecast in advance while the miniature approach takes the view that strategy is made up on the go and one can’t predict strategy, especially in the medium and long-term.

Of course, the hybrid position supporters will be quick to add that they appreciate and have addressed the turbulence in the modern business environment.

Execution:

On the other hand, a strategy once designed requires execution.

AMA has developed a ten-step strategy execution tool-box that managers can use to tame strategy execution:

  1. Visualize the strategy
  2. Measure the strategy
  3. Report progress
  4. Make decisions
  5. Identify strategy projects
  6. Align strategy projects
  7. Manage projects
  8. Communicate strategy
  9. Align individual roles
  10. Reward performance

So, we then ask the question, how do the miniature strategy designers go about their business?

From where we stand, there exists no unique strategy making framework for the miniature strategist.

As a matter of fact, even the miniature approach supporters think of strategy holistically – only that they know that the holistic piece shifts every hour, day, week, and month and that designing and documenting long term strategy is a waste of time.

While miniature strategists apply all or some of iedunote’s nine conventional/hybrid strategy design steps to discern strategy, the application is a daily, 24/7 affair. It’s not a once in three or five years event like it’s done under the conventional/hybrid approach. It’s something that is done every day and in a pretty seamless manner

It ought to be noted that the miniaturists put more emphasis on strategy execution than design. After-all, miniaturists believe that strategy has a short shelf life and should only be ‘manufactured’ in parts for it to be useful.  The latter assumption leads us to the strategy making vs. execution gap concept and the answer to the question: how do the miniature strategy designers go about their business?’

The strategy making vs. execution gap:

Miniature strategy brings signature value-add to companies when the gap between conventional/hybrid strategy design and strategy execution narrows. It’s safe to write on this blog that effective miniature strategy equal narrowing the gap between good design and execution.

In effect, miniature strategists succeed when they merge strategy making and execution into one business activity. It’s a different way to manage strategy and calls for unique: leadership, strategy, design, and people skills

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Categories: Strategy

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  1. Strategy management – the death of ‘process’ and the rise of ‘outcome’ – Gabazira's blog

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