To be effective, strategy needs living context

[T]he art of strategy based upon situational awareness remains one of those topics which are barely covered in business literature. The overwhelming majority depends upon alchemist tools such a story telling, meme copying and magic frameworks like SWOTs. It is slowly changing though and every day I come across encouraging signs.

Other than the “why don’t you tell me how you really think” tone there at the end (hey, I clearly have nothing wrong with that kind of dismissive style), that fits my experience working on strategy.

Your strategy team is forced to freeze time at the launch of the process, looking at their industry as an unchanging process (value chain diagrams, anyone?). As most strategy work takes 3-6 months at best (if not a year to year and half to fit into the corporate budget cycle and then get through The New Years hang over: no one really starts working again until February, then the business units have to plan, allocate budget, and execute), you’re behind: you’re looking at an understanding of the world that’s around a year out of date.

Worse than this, strategy teams are rarely given the tools (time, money, authority, and staff) to actually test out any theories, let alone learn from adapt the results of those tests. There’s no room for OODA/PDCA/lean startup, small batch thinking20.

Centralized strategy in a large company is weird in how unhelpful it can be for industries that are constantly changing or threatened by competitors. Like so many other corporate functions, the fix looks to be shortening the cycle time and getting as close to the actual work and customers as possible.

That’s a long way from the drab cubes of strategy drones and the luxurious double cubes with round tables of their bosses.

Source: What makes a map?

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