What Exactly Is The Strategy Role?

Santos and Josh know strategy

Santos and Josh know strategy

(This one’s a longer read, perhaps save it for later or have a read at home.  Cheers, Adam)

Hey Adam,

Wondering if you can help me – my organisation has created a Strategy role and put me in it. I’ve got some generic KRAs, but a lot of room to design my own ‘value-add’. Would appreciate your view on what you see the value of such a role is.

OK, let’s talk about what the role isn’t to start with.

The strategy role is not there to take sole accountability for delivering strategy!  

Do not take on this accountability alone, either explicitly, or implicitly. It’s going to be tempting as you’re going to want to show that you’re valuable, and the core areas will gladly hand you accountability for the future to get it off their plate! It will seem like a win/win, but this degenerates into a lose/lose every time as you’ll be crying “no one here thinks of the future”, they’ll be crying “Strategy doesn’t understand I’ve got real numbers to hit here”, and the CEO will be crying “why can’t we all just get along!”

Strategy is delivered by those that either currently make or do the things customers use, or by new areas that will make or do the things customer use in the future. In other words, strategy is ultimately delivered by Sales and Operations areas (whatever you call them),even in you are involved along the way.  Not you on your own.

What Strategy Is There To Do

So if Strategy doesn’t deliver strategy on it’s own, what does it do?

It ensures both the happening of, and the quality of, the conversations necessary to both develop and implement strategy that will see the organisation continue to be both valuable and viable in it’s community.

Don’t get fooled by the simple sentence – the more simple and straightforward the sentence, the more complex and involved the actual execution (‘land someone on the moon and bring them back safely by the end of the decade‘….simple right?). These conversations are why you exist, but getting them happening requires you to do the following:

Take The Mystery Out Of Strategy. Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

Developing a Strategy? Read This First

Magpies

You’re in charge of ‘developing a strategy’.  Perhaps you’re a General Manager, where developing and delivering strategy (what work, why that, and why us) is the key part of the job.  Or maybe you’ve been assigned the task because you’ve put your hand up, or you’re an agitator, or someone wants to see what you can do.  Or perhaps you’ve been asked to bring together the ubiquitous ‘cross-functional team’.

So what do you do?

Convene! 

Strategies are developed by convening gatherings of people who want to be there, then having real conversations about possible futures.

They’re not developed by working through a process of identifying the current situation, by doing a SWOT, PESTL….whatever.  These things might be useful to identify things to talk about, but they come at a cost, which is the implication that the process will reveal the strategy.

It won’t, and here’s why.

Real strategy, as in strategy that actually happens, is created by people imagining what might be possible, then making the choice to create a new future.   Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

The buried leadership fundamental

Happy Birthday Hat

The volume of stuff out there on leadership has buried a fundamental.  Amongst the personality-based fads and need to become motivational, inspiring (or resilient and courageous as the latest additions), we’ve buried what leadership actually is –  the act of getting of group of people to work collaboratively and effectively together toward achieving a goal.

And in burying this, we’ve buried that the key contribution from anyone in a role that requires leadership (which applies to all managerial roles), is to develop plans that will successfully get the group to where it needs to go.

The military is not to everyone’s taste, but it can be agreed that leadership tends to be a no-nonsense matter in a situation where people can actually be killed.  General DePuy, US Army leadership trainer wrote:

“Concept of operation is the supreme contribution of the commander to their command and to success”.*

Think about that term – concept of operationRead more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

A real strategy

Road

Recently, I heard a strategy that was fantastic.  It was an outsourcing strategy, and was quite simply “if it can fit on a truck, we aren’t building it“.

Why did I love this strategy?  Because it was actually a strategy!  It wasn’t a purpose or intent, an objective, nor was it a plan.  It was a strategy.

A strategy is nothing more than a sentence or three that sums up the approach or philosophy that we are going to use to guide us in achieving an intent.  It gives us the filters that we can then use to make decisions.  Look at the outsourcing strategy I referred to above. Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

Arguments are opportunity

I’ve been lucky enough to have a situation where my people have been arguing.  Classic stuff too – the Sales Manager arguing that the Operations Manager isn’t delivering while the Operations Manager argues that the Sales Manager is selling what can’t be done.

Both are strong people who have an excellent feel for the overall business, and run their departments well.

Why am I lucky?

Because we’ve uncovered a genuine strategic question, which is: should we be in that market at all?

Reminds me of a great scene described in Robert Pirsig’s classic book Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance where a fellow college teacher asked him what the noise coming out of his classroom was about.  He calmly answered “we’ve come across a genuine question, and the shock of it is hard to recover from”. Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.