How do you view strategy?


Is your thinking logical, motivational, balanced or long-term?

Having witnessed a number of changes across different organisations I thought it a good time to share my view on some of these and how, in hindsight, they could have been carried out better, even if the strategic decision was the same.

Let's firstly ask why we carry out strategic decisions and make changes within the organisation? To benefit the company, make more profit, increase external perception of the business, or to enhance the morale of staff and many, many more that I'm sure you can list.
Whatever your reason behind making a decision I would like to think it is always done with the best intentions and I'm sure you would like to think you took a balance view and considered the pro's and con's.

Let me ask you a question. Would you consider that analysing the Pro's and Con's of a scenario is the same as analysing the impact of how your decision will be received by others? I'm not saying that you need to involve all employees in any decision-making process, that would be ridiculous, but considering the decision in different frames could be key to success or failure.

What do I mean by frames?

Well lets consider the introduction of a new training contract that is designed to increase staff retention and provide them with double the number of paid training days out of work. The trade-off being they have to stay with you for two years rather than one after the training is completed. Sounds like a win all round on the face of it. The company increases staff retention and is giving a huge amount of investment to the employee in return, however lets consider it from a different view.

How would you feel if you were hamstrung into a two-year tie in period with a 100% claw back on any training fees? Most of us don't know what will happen one year from now, let alone in 3 or 4. Consider framing the issue as if you were one of the employees, are you really putting yourself in their shoes when making this unbiased rational decision.

So how about another scenario....

A decision is made to either re-brand the business or alter the 'company strap-line' in order to win new business, appeal to different market segments or fit in with current fashions. All of these are great reasons to re-brand, but how was the message communicated and who communicated the message? Was it left to just filter out via a message down through middle-management, or should it be communicated by the figure-head of the business; the individual that employees look to as their leader.

Here's not to say that all messages should be communicated on a one to one basis but have you considered that a change like this may have a different impact on each person. On a cultural level, they may consider it a step away from their engagement or appreciation by the company. Frame the change from a cultural perspective and consider the best way of giving a message, if you thought of the idea as the CEO who better to tell people; you will have the passion and charisma behind the decision.

The key to successful strategic change or repositioning is truly understanding the impact on all those it may touch. If you have always looked at decisions from an efficiency perspective or cost saving perspective, its likely you may never realise the true potential you possess.

I am currently undertaking a number of projects with companies who are looking at this type of change and would be more than happy to share my experiences.

In the meantime here is a link to a HBR articles on why strategy fails,