Having a strategy document probably won't help you much but good strategic thinking will

28 February 2019

In today’s world of disruption and fast pace change, it can be a big ask to put the brakes on and spend time and effort developing a strategy.  On top of that, strategy often gets a bad rap.  All too often being trumped by culture and the strategy document left to gather dust in the CEO's office or a hidden corner of the corporate website.

One of the things that we have learned over the years, is that simply having a great strategy that is owned by the senior team doesn’t guarantee success.  This is problematic, because we also know that engaging an organisation, and its stakeholders in good strategic thinking, is critically important and a pre-requisite for successful transformation and change!

So what do we mean by good strategic thinking?  We mean spending time with people, at all levels of an organisations, creating consensus and shared understanding, and answering three key questions. 

Question 1 - What does value mean for your customers and users?

In some sectors this is a well-trodden path, with Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores already being key measures.  But for others it is new territory.  It starts with knowing who your users are, empathising with them and understanding their challenges and motivations. 

By mapping out the user experience that you deliver, you’ll quickly identify what your customers and users value, any pain-points that you are generating for them, as well as any issues this creates for your teams.  You can use these insights to get a fix on what your users really want, need and expect, and how the organisation will need to change to make that a reality.

Question 2 - What is your vision for the future?

It is human nature to focus on the here and now which drives business operations.  But creating a vision involves looking outwards and forwards, way beyond the turbulence of today’s reality and taking inspiration from the amazing things that are happening around us.

But setting a vision can be daunting, and therefore looking at your organisation from a number of perspectives can be useful.  You will already know what value means to your customers.  From here you can think about how you will need to work with partners, organise your people, design services and processes and deploy new technologies in order to close the gap between customer experience and expectation. 

You will probably need a few goes at refining and distilling your vision, to make it concise and consumable.  And perhaps most importantly, to ensure that it resonates with the organisation and creates consensus on what the future looks like.

Question 3 - How will you initiate the change?

At this stage taking an agile approach will help. Prioritising the work based on value, breaking it down into manageable chunks, and planning to deliver in short iterations, will mean that you are able to start moving towards the vision.  You will build engagement, enthusiasm and commitment across the organisations as you go.  It will also put you in a strong position to respond to change and disruption when it inevitably emerges.

Creating the capacity and capability to change will be critical.  You will need to free up ‘A-Team’ to focus on delivery.  And start building new skills, in order to: design the products, services and the future organisation that you expressed in your vision; deliver change quickly and efficiently; and increasingly use data as the basis for decision making. 

In our experience, asking and answering these three questions is surprisingly straight forward, and will provide the direction your organisation needs and, most importantly, provide a roadmap for transformation and change.  Engaging people and the organisation as a whole in strategic thinking, creates the strong foundations on which the transformation and change can be built, and ensure that your strategy will translate into action.

For more information please contact Alex Matthews (alex.matthews@aabconsulting.uk) or your usual AAB Consulting contact.

To find our more about Alex and the AAB Consulting team click here.

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