Friday, June 18, 2010

Purpose-Profit orchestrated Strategic planning

Courtesy: Google Images and Wikipedia

Well, we all have heard it multiple times- most purpose statements (vision, mission and values etc.) sound more like the “motherhood and apple-pie” type statements coined by Dilbert’s mission statement generator. With all the pun aside, part of the reason for that perception is that statements by themselves do not mean much unless the organization takes the effort to engage their key stakeholders (customers, co-workers and communities) in formulating their purpose driven strategies. This conversational type - purpose driven strategies that engage, educate, energize, empathize and empower (the 5E’s) the constituents are the ones that make the organization to grow and prosper as they have the “so called” powerful invisible instructions within them - as I had alluded in my earlier blog.

Michael Porter would claim that an organization can sustain its competitive advantage (SCA) only by strategic poisoning – meaning - by occupying a differentiated profitable market position. Prhalad and Hamel would go one step ahead - and say that to achieve SCA enabled strategic positioning, a firm needs core competencies (skills, talents, gifts, product know-how, and intellectual property) and resources ( people, technology, assets etc). According to them, neither the “core competencies” nor the “resources” by themselves provide the SCA, but a careful coordination/Consolidation/intertwining/Integration/orchestration of those entities (i.e. core competencies and resources) in right proportion/sequence that is well customized to the firm’s culture and difficult to be emulated by competitors is the one that provide SCA. In other words, the unique orchestration of the array of activities performed by those entities is what differentiates the organization. Most experts call this the systemic strategic planning - as I had alluded in my earlier blog and further emphasized by Pete Delisi in his unique “organization synergy driven” systemic strategy development process (

Speaking of this uniquely “orchestrated systemic strategic planning process”; I am reminded of an Orchestra. An orchestra is an instrumental ensemble, of string, brass, woodwind and a percussion sections resembling the strategy ensemble of various core competencies and resource elements. The term orchestration in its specific sense within a symphonic orchestra refers to the way instruments are used to portray the key musical aspects of harmony and melody very much like how strategic orchestration is used within strategic planning to produce purpose and profit focused strategies.

For example, a C major chord made up of the notes C,E and G resembling various core competencies within an organization. If the notes are held out the entire duration of a measure, the composer or orchestrator will have to decide what instruments (or resources) play this chord and in what register (core competency) and sequence (orchestration). Some instruments, including woodwinds and brass are primarily monophonic and can only play one note of the chord at a time. However in a full orchestra there is generally more than one of these instruments, so the orchestrator may choose to outline the chord in its basic form with clarinets or trumpets (resembling specialists within an organization) and make other polyphonic instruments like strings, piano, harp, and pitched percussion to play more than one note at a time very much like generalists focusing on multiple work streams –core businesses strategies and adjacency/white space based innovation. I guess – as leaders, we have a great lesson to learn from the underpinnings of a well orchestrated symphonic orchestra!

Bottom line : This type of a well orchestrated organization indeed performs like a symphonic orchestra united by shared purpose (the master orchestrator), which reinforces teamwork and collaboration very much like how the master orchestrator makes certain instruments to pay one note and others to multiple notes. Purpose orchestrated resources will be more readily relied on to do the right thing, and to guide their co-workers to do the same, once they internalize the purpose orchestrated strategic principles inside their DNA. And, over a period of time, the active coordination and synchronization of core purpose values and core competencies within this symphonic orchestra will indeed unlock creative innovation potential that is buried deep inside the organization.

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