Should Executives Become More Strategic?

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Should Executives Become More Strategic?
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
A while ago we had 2 interesting discussions at 12manage "Strategic Planning must be Dynamic" and "Developing an Agile Top Management Team". I was made aware of a recent article by McKinsey consultants Birshan and Kar who argue that top executives should become more strategic.
The beginning of the article - rightly - states that that even in today's fast-changing competitive environment, companies still have to timely:
- Capture emerging opportunities
- React to unexpected threats
- Make correct and timely decisions
In other words, corporations need strategic agility. To achieve this, the authors suggest to increase the TIME spent on strategy, involving MORE (top) executives in the strategy process, and also to encourage them to CONSTANTLY DEVELOP their strategic capabilities.

The article gives 3 tips for top executives to 'become more strategic':
1. Develop a guiding industry context by studying, understanding and internalizing the economical, psychological and legal developments in your sector by using:
A. Specialized sector-readings,
B. (Custom) executive education and
C. Off-site strategy sessions, etc.
2. Become an expert in identifying potential disruptors (technological or other) for example using:
A. Site visits to technology hubs,
B. Periodic technical briefings,
C. Reverse-mentoring relationships with younger colleagues,
D. Talking to clients,
E. Watching new competitors, etc.
3. Possess strong communication tools and skills, for example using:
A. Special sessions to share strategic insights and
B. Data that's easy to navigate and use.

Do you agree that involving a larger number of more strategic executives in a more continuous strategy process is part of the answer to deal with today's increasing complexity and speed of changes? What other things are also important?
Source: Becoming more strategic: Three tips for any executive, Michael Birshan and Jayanti Kar, McKinsey Quarterly, July 2012.
 

 
How a Decision Maker can Become More Strategic...
Bahri, Consultant, Germany, Member
Feeling the change... is one of the most important features a manager more specifically a decision maker should have.
But for that he should consider an enterprise more than just a mechanical running system, which has to be constantly optimized...
Oft times changes come from endogenous (Editor: ~originating from within an organism) elements. Which manager has time to go and take the "temperature" at the bottom? It's amazing what employees know about competitors...
 

 
3 Suggestions to Help Executives to Become More Strategic
Bernard Liebowitz PhD CMC, Management Consultant, United States, Member
Three suggestions in this cause:
- First, create a department devoted to research on disruptive and/or new technology, events, customer needs, etc. Executives don't have the time nor inclination to look beyond what has to be done now.
- Second, use the findings of this group as input for periodic scenario planning sessions for executives and other staff.
- Third: ensure that these sessions include employees from all levels. It goes without saying that the results of the scenario planning sessions be included and reflected in action steps the firm might take.
These suggestions are aimed not only at anticipating CHANGE, but also in influencing the CULTURE of the organization towards being proactively searching the market place for "what's new".
 

 
Everybody Must Become More Strategic
jorge anibal hoyos hoyos, Manager, Colombia, Member
Not only the executives, but all employees at all levels must work focused in a strategic way, everybody must think of creating value all the time. That is the best way to reach a dominant position in the outside market, allowing growth for the organization.
 

 
What Does 'Strategic' Mean? That's the Issue
Alan Kennedy
I wonder if we have a common understanding of what the question "Should Executives Become More Strategic" even means. That's the whole problem, isn't it?
 

 
Using Scenario Planning for Tactics or Strategy
Dr Gary Jones, Business Consultant, Australia, Member
The ongoing fortunes of the firm is reliant on the decisions of management - or its tactics - to reach the goals of the firms strategy. The strategy (its plan) does not normally change in the short term. A company is able to prepare its executives for future key events encompassing scenario planning to change its tactics if a particular scenario is triggered.
 

 
Continually Form, Review and then Re-form Strategy Essential for Executives
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
My area of expertise is small business. This subject applies more specifically to corporate business, but also has relevance in the small business field - the difference being that the responsibility then falls onto a "generalist's" shoulders.
The need for every business executive to continually form, review and then re-form strategy is essential for the future growth and development of their business. The effect of the strategic plan is, generally, not felt immediately, but, if not nurtured, quickly disappears from the scene leaving a vast unfillable hole of indecision and confusion in management.
 

 
Team of Executives Must be Aligned to the Commom Strategic Core of the CEO
John Mafela Dube (MBA,CMILT,MZIM,MIAMZ), Student (University), Zimbabwe, Member
Times, they are changing. Technological changes now affect every aspect of business operations and demand a robust way of execution.
This will only happen if the team of executives within the system are aligned to the common strategic core of the leader i.e. the CEO. Being more strategic without alignment always results in boardroom squabbles and fighting.
Strategy is nothing without implementation. The important aspect is to identify if the executive is a strategic thinker or strategic planner as they are far apart. Prosperity of the system depends on the CEO identifying and meshing around with the two.
 

 
A Lot of Strategic Work is Dominated by Old Timers
leonard haggai oduori, Project Manager, Kenya, Member
The challenge is not every manager is prophetic or has capacity to predict future opportunities and problems. So some top managers need to accept when they are ripe for retirement while others would do well if they listened more to peers and those who hold contrary views. A lot of strategic work is dominated by old timers and people who are uncomfortable with change.
Big organizations operate in environments fraught with risks arising from corruption and manipulation. Even the good intentions of some managers never find reception within organizations because of vested interests.
A thorough evaluation of the values and morals of those at the helm of organizations can open up space for new ideas and positive competition.
 

 
Involving More People in Strategy
S Ganapathy, Management Consultant, India, Member
In India, especially in rural places, there often are light music performances by a small group of musicians. Anybody in the audience sends the request of their favourite song (only one song) to the music troupe.
Similarly, there is just a small group of senior persons which is involved in designing, developing the strategy, whereas anybody in the company can air their views on any point related to the company's business to this group.
The involvement of the employees should be limited to just that. Otherwise, you will have too many cooks and no executors following the chosen direction.
 

 
Should Senior Executives Become More Strategic?
Jan Emerton
Looking at the recent spate (Editor ~abundance) of business failures in the UK (Comet, HMV, Blockbuster), it seems clear that the senior management of these companies lost sight of the strategic imperative to be in touch with their sector and to be able to change course to meet strategic threats in the environment - namely, to adopt a multi-channel approach to selling their goods and services in the face of online competition.
An excess of focus on the discipline of execution and a desire to retain control are the key barriers to remaining focused at the strategic level.
I would add 'humility' to the list of tips for remaining strategic - and remember, 'what got you here won't get you there'.
 

 
Should Senior Executives Be More Strategic
Mohammed Al-Kharusi, Director, Member
The tips offered are very valid and practised in many companies. Strategies should be reviewed annually to see whether the implementation is working or not, or the implementation needs to be fine tuned.
You can create some strategy group consisting of executives implementing the strategies, together with a cross section of identified high potential staff from different disciplines in the company and some external/academic input is also healthy to review existing or formulate new strategies.
Whatever is proposed will need a challenge process as we see from time to time failed companies who were not in tune with current reality or use of innovative technologies. Kodak and HMV are clear examples.
 

 
Office of Strategy Management (OSM)
Kelepile Dintwe, Manager, South Africa, Member
@Bernard Liebowitz PhD CMC: I agree with you. The Office of Strategy Management (OSM), a concept by Kaplan & Norton, can incorporate its role.
 

 
How to Identify Strategic Thinkers Among Executives
Alessandro Gomes, Member
@John Dube: I agree with my colleague. There's a way that we can use to identify strategic thinking executives. It's just by observing the attitudes, abilities and technical skills of an executive to do everything on an ordinary day.
For example, if the executive goes to work by bicycle this preserves the time to go to sports, because he links two activities in only one, goes to work and practicing sports while saving his time.
 

 
Strategy is not an End, it is the Means to an End
Purna Chandra, Business Consultant, India, Member
As an executive moves up on the corporate ladder, he has to develop a strategic vision and strategic thinking. The question is, to develop such an orientation, must he have a good exposure of the whole business, which comes from systematic grooming (Editor: taking care for something).
- Many executives follow the principles enunciated above and engage in self grooming. But it is not always systematic.
- Top executives, who are there at the top due to their superior execution skills, tend to have a more myopic view of the business they are in and seek out consultants to implement strategic vision, even to develop the same for their organisation.
 

 
Strategic Thinking and Behavior
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
An interesting topic that I would think is at the top of every executives "must" list.
Everyone in my organization must posses this strategic thinking and behavior. Many of the comments were great. The one area that came to mind while reading this and the McKinsey report was the depth of involvement in the organization and how it is a great beginning to succession planning as well as preparation in the future growth of the enterprise/organization.
There is a lot more that can be said on the leadership value of this priceless step in building a solid foundation today in preparation for the future.
 

 
Strategic Thinking in the Executive Team
T. Bredewold, Netherlands, Member
Make it simple. Put one off your lower staff in your team, you will be surprised. This way the thinking is less complicated. Now I see a small laugh on your face, but try and then judge. Keep me informed :-).
 

 
Executives Should Be More Strategic
Alice Oludhe, HR Consultant, Kenya, Member
Being strategic helps CEOs to steer their organizations to be more innovative. The organization will be able to enjoy first mover advantages. Innovation assists organizations to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. This is due to the fact that she will be maintaining market leadership all the time.
In a situation where there are scarce resources, strategic executives will be able to gather enough information and make informed decisions, be able to correctly prioritize on tasks and build a cohesive team. Hence an effective use of the available resources is mandatory for a strategic executive.
For sustainability purposes, strategic focus will need to be observed at all levels of the organization. All stakeholders will benefit.
 

 
Strategy is Part of the Culture of an Organisation
Riphagen, Financial Consultant, Netherlands, Member
Strategy is part of the culture of an organisation, so if there is the need for more strategic agility in a fast changing environment, the top executives should start by changing the culture.
Getting routines and behaviours in place in the organisation that capture emerging opportunities, that can react to unexpected threats and make correct and timely decisions, are all part of changing the culture in an organisation. And for that, all workers are needed, not only the top executives.
The top executives are there to steer the boat they are on.
The suggestions of Bernard Liebowitz for creating a department devoted to research on disruptive and/or new technology, events, customers needs..., periodic scenario planning AND the 3 tips for top executives from the article, are all ways of creating a culture prepared for a fast changing environment.
"Strategies can be seen as the outcome of the collective taken-for-granted assumptions, behaviours and routines of organisations" (Johnson et al, 2006).
 

 
Strategic Executices can Share the Burden of Localized Strategies
Kathleen Brush, Business Consultant, United States, Member
To create plans that can't lose today you must have executives that understand that opportunities and threats (O&Ts) vary by country and/or region and they must stay informed of O&Ts that can affect an organization's strategies.
Having more executives in the process will help to share the burden of this enormous and ongoing task, and it is essential that their findings be analyzed, debated, and addressed.
 

 
Strategic Planning is for Strategic Moments
Denis Hitchens, Business Consultant, Australia, Member
Steve Jobs, in reply to a question about annual strategic planning, responded that he only created a strategic plan at a strategic moment. (Editor: see Strategic Infliction Point)
He defined that as a time when a strategic shift was evident, and commented that they don't occur to meet our annual calendars.
If we believe that strategy is generally long term in orientation, then changes of strategy are relatively rare, and it seems in Job's mind reactive to a SIGNIFICANT change in environment.
This does not exclude 'disruptive' strategies as they are still relative to an immediate environment
Therefore in my view it is not a question of becoming 'more strategic' but becoming 'always strategic' driven by recognising appropriate 'moments' when the environmental outlook indicates the need for a shift in proposed desired outcome.
Such change may be either to redress some lost ground or to carve out some new emerging niche; but still only when there is a significant environmental shift.
 

 
Should Executives Become More Strategic?
Madan Gopal Agarwal, Business Consultant, India, Member
My understanding about 'Top Executives' is they are part of the 'Board of Directors' and about 'Executives' they are members of the 'Senior Management Team'.
Having said that and taking cue from 3 tips, I understand that, based upon need and depending upon who all possess the capabilities in line with three 'tips', Directors plus Senior Management must be involved to the minimum.
In addition, depending upon need, more expertise can be sought from within the organisation or from outside.
 

 
Should Executives Be More Strategic?
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
The answer is a big YES. Executives can no longer depend on short term or tactical moves in planning and operating an enterprise. Competition is becoming more tight and if one is thinking tactical, he may soon find himself left far behind. A strategic mindset is the name of the game wherever there is competition.
 

 
Laying out the Plan and Implementing the Plan
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Madan Gopal Agarwal: I feel that this response simply adds to the confusion. In life there will always be degrees or progressions. To separate Executives from Senior Executives is unnecessary and smudges the issue. An executive lays the plan out while the manager implements it.
Laying out the plan involves strategy, implementing it requires tactics. Obviously some people must wear both hats, and they must separate their responsibilities for each hat to do their job properly.
 

 
Executives Working on Strategy
Jolanta Sz, Professor, Poland, Member
First of all, I am doubtful about strategy itself. Often executives declare that they are working on, let's say, 1 or 2 years strategy. This, because the longer period is not to be predicted, so thinking about a further future is a waste of time. But is thinking 1-2 years ahead a real strategy?
Whether more executives should be involved in strategic planning is hard to say. On one hand, "two heads are better than one"; on the other "when there are six cooks there will be nothing to eat"...
What strikes me in many contemporary ideas and comments is an almost total neglect of HRM aspect. Does anybody agree?
 

 
All Employees Should be More Strategic
Erasmus Agongo, Management Consultant, Ghana, Member
@jorge anibal hoyos hoyos: I agree. It is not only a big YES that senior management should be more strategic, but they should also inculcate strategic thinking and actions in all employees. This makes all of them into effective sensors of the rapid dynamic environment and allows the organization to take appropriate action.
 

 
Executives Becoming More Strategic has 2 Aspects
GEOFFREY NYAMBANE, Manager, Kenya, Member
Executives becoming more strategic as defined herein is only concentrating on the aspects of planning and reviewing. Being strategic in implementation is epitomised by having the right resources (human and technology) both in quality and quantity is much more difficult and should be accorded more emphasis.
We have seen companies involving more executives and staff in strategic planning, but very few in strategy execution - even where some are involved, it is by default and they do it as part of routine. All executives involved in strategy implementation must make a deliberate attempt to operate at both the routine business as usual level and the strategic level. Otherwise, the efforts put into analysis and planning will go into waste, being shrouded in the mass of routine, people resorting into their comfort zones and strategy becoming just another plan.
 

 
Involve All Management Levels IS the Strategy
Ali M. Al Alawi, Student (Other), Sultanate of Oman, Member
If we can involve all management levels in strategy planning, that will be the most important strategic move and real strategy, because some management levels will practice the strategy autonomously and because they believe in it, rather than executives telling them what to do and not involving other management levels in strategy formulation and decision making.
 

 
Strategy for More than 3 Years?
Istvan Szeman, Consultant, Hungary, Member
@ Jolanta Sz: Thanks for that comment, I agree to a great extent, with one note, nevertheless.
Strategy is cyclical process, every single cycle being multi-step and multi-player, if done well. Also, if well done, it includes a very measurable/actionable part, so that execution steps are taken and monitoring the progress is possible.
The difficulty starts there: it is too risky to formulate an action plan based on high-risk analysis in a 3yr+ time-frame. But, if an action plan is not formulated, it can hardly be called a strategy. Although such process can certainly can be called a strategic analysis.
That inhibits the HR dimension a lot, I think. For an HR action-plan to take effect, usually need 3yr+ time.
But anyway, the executive leadership has a tough time thinking over high-risk of scenarios in a 3yr+ time-frame.
 

 
Executives Should Consult their Employees More on Strategy
Danai Muteyo, Financial Consultant, Zimbabwe, Member
@Bahri: I agree it's a must, strategy is not a prerogative of executives only. I've heard amazing new business strategies from employees at the lower levels of organisations. Executives have to open their doors to ideas from from the generality of employees. Besides the knock on effect is that the strategies may be more successful because the very employees who are supposed to make the strategies work have a sense of belonging and feel elevated (not disenfranchised from the process as most organisations do).
 

 
Strategy Don't Produce, People Do
Hans Christiaan Meinen
Phd Coos van Tuinen lectured: 'Strategy don't produce, but people do'. The soft side (HRM) looks more beneficial for executives than more strategic executives.
 

 
Executives Should Become More Strategic
Karl Christensen, Strategy Consultant, Mexico, Member
Absolutely. There are executives that focus on the efficiency of operations. However, when they're having no strategic thinking skills and are not developing a strategy for their companies, they could well be leading their organizations very efficiently to failure.
Strategy formulation and implementation have been and will continue to be key requirements for succes.
 

 
Should Executives Become More Strategic
Mackinnon, Entrepreneur, United Kingdom, Member
The adjective 'strategic' is used as though its meaning is abundantly clear when it is not. ALL management executives are involved in strategic thinking and implementation, else they are merely processing routines and are not really executives.
Becoming more strategic is like becoming more pregnant. It is conceiving and handling the strategy (pregnancy) and its outcomes that are important - hence the term 'executive'. What is really meant is that they should be more managerial.
 

 
Executive Should Become More Strategic
Francesco Smeragliuolo, Analyst, Italy, Member
@KARL CHRISTENSEN: I totally agree. Sometimes I meet a CEO that has no strategic vision. And some executives are focused on cost cutting to create a positive ROI and to take advantage for themselves and the shareholders.
 

 
Involving More People in Strategy Planning
LEAH LYNDA I. STA ANA, Student (MBA), Philippines, Member
I agree to involve a large number of more strategic executives. However it would also be better that intended strategies are communicated first to employees who will be affected in the implementation and their opinions and constant feedback are asked and obtained and exchanged between the two groups, so that adjustments can be made prior to implementation.
 

 
Strategy and Suggestions Boxes
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Every one of us makes our own strategy. Career path planning is strategy, tomorrows program is tactics. The power of suggestion boxes is immense, if it is properly used by all levels of a business, particularly when suggestions have names attached and are followed up by Executives if they are deemed to be of value.
Suggestion boxes have a downside if they are used as whining boxes or if the higher echelons feel threatened by unsolicited commentary.
You need to decide how they fit into your organisation?
 

 
Managing Strategic Responsibilities
Karl Christensen, Strategy Consultant, Mexico, Member
The top management team is responsible for strategy formulation. But many managers and people at different levels are responsible for implementation.
We at Kepner Tregoe offer a seminar called "Managing Strategic Responsibilities". Executives are presented with the future strategic profile and they have the opportunity to question and discuss the strategic reasoning that support the strategic conclusions.
They also understand what their role en contribution is going to be or, they can see there is no future and they better search for a new job somewhere else.
It is also important while the strategy is being developed to field test some ideas with operational managers. Their inputs are valuable to establish the viability of the future strategy.
However, in my opinion, the CEO is still the primary responsible for the company´s strategy. Strategy decision making is the main reason to pay them their salaries.
 

 
Should Executives Be More Strategic
DAVIS JN LOUIS, Saint Lucia, Member
Strategic Planning is the fundamental decision and action that shapes and guide an organization to its goals and strategic direction. Team involvement is critical bearing in mind that the organization is preparing itself to respond to external environmental circumstances which could make of break it.
The team must be flexible and objective in their thinking as they come together to navigate the organization through this volatile environment. I do concur with @Bernard Liebowitz PhD CMC's three suggestions.
 

 
Should Executives Be More Strategic?
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
@LEAH LYNDA I. STA ANA: The fact is in an institution the strategic thinkers/planners are normally found at the top of the hierarchy.
The Japanese way of arriving at a decision could be exercised- top-bottom, bottom-top. It takes more time, but definitely reduces the risk of failure and increases the potential for success.
 

 
Should Executives Be More Strategic?
Peter A.M. Broosus, Management Consultant, Germany, Member
Strategy making requires a lot of communication and thinking through the vast amount of information to master the meaning and the logic in it. That requires time. In this case "meeting time".
But meetings are (erroneously) seen as a plague. It always astounds me what little time executives wish to spend in meetings where strategy is supposed to be discussed. "We have one hour, we need to come out with decisions!"
But one year later: "our strategy is failing, why?"
The quality of business is driven by the quality of people. Top-down and bottom-up. Sharing information and insight is a people's domain. Executives are to lead and guide appropriate flow and sharing of people's knowledge. That's the best way to guarantee business.
 

 
Meetings... the Hidden Strategies..
Bahri, Consultant, Germany, Member
@Peter A.M. Broosus: Behind the obsolete concept of "the meeting", which is seen from a lot of managers as an exclusive stage... whereupon each of them tries to play his part as individualist and individual... Remember the Maslov pyramid and its top (self-actualization). The worst thing is that this attitude is encouraged...
Gut meetings, I mean enhanced getting togethers, are not wasting time if those meetings are taken as a "free space", where every idea/opinion is uncensored. This is the first step for a successful strategy.
 

 
Should Executives Be More Strategic?
Istvan Szeman, Consultant, Hungary, Member
@Peter A.M. Broosus: In agreement, to further analyse what you said:
Quality of people is a combination of skills and motivation. The difficulty with strategic planning is that it is only effective in case of...
1. Quality planning (strategy formulation)
2. Efficient execution
I don;t want to simplify the otherwise complex issue, but part of the problem is that normally a lot more people take part in executing the strategy than in formulating it. This the the nature of the thing and can't be changed radically.
What keeps the executing management motivated? Part of the answer I think is involving these managers layers in the strategy formulation process.
 

 
Again About the Strategy
Jolanta Sz, Professor, Poland, Member
Although a lot of wise and well founded and reasonable remarks and opinions can be found in this interesting discussion about the present understanding of strategy, I still have a bit uncomfortable feeling that much more is said- from theoretical point of view, than can be really done in this matter. To me, "strategic planning" is, in many or maybe even in the majority of cases like foretelling from drugs. Thus, I am doubtful about the time and all efforts sacrificed to have ANY strategy..Maybe, much more fruitful would be to concentrate on what's going on today and in the nearest future (months) than to waste energy for fortune telling:-).
 

 
Strategic Planning may be for Strategic Moments but not only for Top Executives
Istvan Szeman, Consultant, Hungary, Member
@Denis Hitchens: I certainly would keep in mind whatever Steve Jobs said about strategy, also agree with Denis expanding on the idea.
Just one addition: signals of change are not necessarily visible through the executive window, yet another reason to formulate and execute strategy in teams, so that the entire team keep their sensors open for changes.
The annual (or any formal) cycle of strategic planning or just strategic update may be an important method to make sure the team share all information in a way it is relevant to the strategy.
 

 
Becoming More Strategic
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
The shift from tactical/operational to long-term process-system approach has become a necessity if an enterprise is to survive in a globally competitive field. While before it may be enough to have an enterprising executive at the helm doing the strategic planning, today enterprises would need a pool of executives within the institution to do it. There is where teamwork comes in. Thereafter, leadership for decision making finalizes what has been finally agreed upon in the process of strategic planning.
 

 
Strategic Thinking and Planning
Bernard Liebowitz PhD CMC, Management Consultant, United States, Member
I think there is a distinction between "strategy" (or "strategic planning") versus "strategic thinking", though they do overlap considerably:
- The first deals with the development of the plan using various tools and approaches (e.g., 5 Forces, Balanced Scorecard, etc.).
- "Strategic thinking" on the other hand is about how we go about the process of planning. "Thinking" entails being aware of SYSTEMS, of one's BIASES (e.g., confirmation bias, overconfidence, etc.), of how we are FRAMING problems and their solutions, of the influence of CONTEXT (both present and future). It involves being able to VIEW a future from different PERSPECTIVES, a willingness to CHALLENGE our assumptions and an awareness of a variety of different future SCENARIOS.
What I have experienced is a failure to make this distinction resulting in a push to create a strategy whose assumptions have not been tested against a "strategic thinking" framework.
 

 
Tip #3 Developing Communication Tools & Skills
Alan Kennedy
For me, tip #3 offered by Birshan and Kar, (developing communication tools & skills) is the most important tip to become agile in strategy. I think most folks are pretty good at doing tips 1 & 2.
I know tip#3 is an issue when I see phrases such as "a more continuous strategy process". That phrase tells me that we do not know how to talk about strategy. For me, strategy is a choice of action. It is characterized by a duration (e.g. 3 wks, 6 months, 1 quarter, 2 years, etc.) and by its focus (e.g. marketing, sales, finance, risk, growth, etc.) Therefore, of course, strategy is a continuous process.
What's more, there are 8 strategies common to all organizations and all 8 must be managed for a company to be successful. This results in a strategic plan being a review of those 8 strategies to determine if they are still appropriate given changing external factors and stakeholder expectations.
But once those strategies are set, it is expectations for implementation created by the strategic plan that drive all further strategy implementation.
Strategic thinking then becomes, literally, "thinking about strategy", which for all managers means "What does my boss want/expect from me?" This is how strategy implementation is managed. Unfortunately, we are so caught up in a Byzantine collection of synonyms for strategy, that it seems more time is spent arguing manufactured definitions of terms used for strategy than debating the merits of various courses of action (i.e. strategy). And this communication issue is what is keeping teams from being agile in strategy, in my opinion.
 

 
Strategic Agility is an Outcome of Structural & Cultural Agility
Purna Chandra, Business Consultant, India, Member
While there is enough appreciation of strategic thinking and agility in strategy formulation, the real challenge is to build the structure and Ssystem to support agile working and a culture to sustain agility over time.
This requires true appreciation by every one in an organisation of the need and importance of agility to build, sustain and continually evaluate the strategic focus in a constantly changing business environment.
Agile strategic planning has to be supported by agile strategy implementation for success in marketplace.
 

 
Depth of Strategic Participation/Involvement
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
Strategic Planning has historically been an action directed by the Executive Leadership and Board of Directors. Seldom has it been fully implemented and/or monitored in it's full application.
Bringing more of the organization into the development of a Strategic Plan makes more sense and elevates the probability that the resulting plan will be mobilized. Each level that is represented could or should take ownership of both their level of involvement and the success of the Strategic Plan.
Finally, someone is thinking in a complete manner.
 

 
Tip#3: Communications Tools and Skills
Istvan Szeman, Consultant, Hungary, Member
@Alan Kennedy: I fully aggree with you here, even though "just" building the execution mechanism for corporate strategy is a challenge in itself.
I also see, however, great divergence in different understanding of different people what strategy, strategic thinking and strategic action might be. This truly is an obstacle before "institutionalising" strategy formulation and execution. The challenge is not less than creating a distinct corporate culture amidst all diversities and employee turnover. I find hard grasping "Agility" but it is probably down to Culture more than anything else. If that is a case, being "strategically agile" requires continuous attention to cultural elements while mastering "mechanics" of planning and execution.
 

 
Old Timers and the RC Factor
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Leonard haggai oduori: Hi there Leonard, while I appreciate your viewpoint I would counter with the following:
Dont write off all old timers, they are not all rigid.
As we gradually, but inevitably, grow older our viewpoints change, forced on us by experience and the gradual reduction in our flexibility and risk adaptability. This brings about an increase in our inherent RC factor (RC = Resistance to Change).
When we were young we would TRY something just to see what happened and if it would work. Now we KNOW, or can fairly accurately predict, the likely result of an action, based on having tried something similar before.
The RC factor is further exacerbated by our quest for indispensibility - we need to be needed. The target of this effort is the young, because they have time to experiment, while our time is now over or approaching its conclusion.
Bear, and work, with us and you will find we both improve more rapidly and become more flexible and success is greater!
 

 
Culture is a Product of Strategy
Alan Kennedy
@Istvan Szeman: I understand your thinking. We make the case in our book that culture is a product of strategy; dominant strategy in particular. If we are right, then the whole notion that strategy is somehow distinct from culture can be discarded. If you think about it, it takes at least 5 years and usually more to change the culture of any organization of size. But what is actually changing? Strategy; not culture. The changed strategy puts in place a changed culture.
For me, becoming more strategic means seeing strategy as a courses of short, medium, and long term actions, understanding how strategy is configured in your organization given there are 8 strategies and 3 types of strategy common to all organizations, and understanding what imposed expectations are driving strategy implementation.
Unfortunately, as you point out, the confusion today comes from lack of agreement over what the term strategic means, This confusion comes from the focus on different words for strategy rather than a focus on strategy as choices of action.
 

 
Strategy in the Corporate World
LEAH LYNDA I. STA ANA, Student (MBA), Philippines, Member
Everyone in a corporate world whether you are an ordinary employee or you belong to the middle or topmanagement should not work harder, but smarter.
By working smarter, you yourself will be having a culture of strategy. By this, I mean that you will always be thinking of ways to make your work simpler, faster and more accurate to improve your performance and results.
Everyone should have short, medium and long term goals plus actions to achieve them. Individually and collectively.
 

 
Abilities of Strategic Executives
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
Anyone in the executive/leadership position of any organization large or small should be both a strategic thinker as well as a tactical thinker.
- Strategic thinking is a management "must" in planning for the short term, mid-term and long-term.
- Tactical thinking is knowing how to address those numerous issues that continue to come up on a daily basis or regular basis. While these issues are not part of the "strategic plan" they are the fuel that keeps the day-to-day operation going. Tactical thinking requires preparation and true skill for a leader and any person sitting in a leadership/executive position. Preparation and anticipation are vital to be successful. Without it the value of the strategic plan is worthless because you and your organization will be in survival mode on a daily basis.
"Strategic agility" is a great branding for executives.
 

     
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