YET ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT STRATEGY
It is one of those things that keep coming back again and again – Is strategy a decision, destiny or both? While analytics has positioned strategy as a set of decisions – there is also merit in the argument that without a proper destiny, those strategic decisions have no relevance. The question, however, is which one comes first – Decision or Destiny? An insightful analogy- I have come to grips in recent years is that strategy is a “beautiful pottery”– with destiny as the clay and decision as the water - and together they are molded in to a fine piece of pottery called strategy. Before we put the piece of clay (destiny) to start the actual molding process, we need to add enough water (decision) into it- in order to make it pliable and soft enough - for it to be able to actually use it. Without enough water into the clay, the clay will remain too rigid to be able to actually mold it – similarly, without enough decision focus, destiny has no relevance, and without destiny mindset, decision has no meaning. And so, “doing both” is the way to go when it comes to strategic planning in the words of Inder Sidhu and Roger Martin.
DOING BOTH - DECISION AND DESTINY
Now, back to our analogy - after we add enough water (decision) into the clay (destiny) to make it soft and pliable – the next thing we need to do is put them in the center of a electric wheel called analytics (i.e. balanced quantitative and qualitative analytics) before we start the molding process called strategic planning. To get to that “doing both” mindset within that molding process – like most things in this world – strategic planning must also adhere to certain guiding principles for it to align properly within the center of the electric spinning wheel.
DESTINY FOCUSED PRINCIPLES
- Principle of Team – Addressing “who we are” question in terms of forming the right team – get the right people first on the bus - and then (together as a team) formulate the strategy - in the words of Jim Collins.
- Principle of Purpose – Addressing the "why do we exist" question in terms of the purpose dimension.
- Principle of Place – Addressing “where to play” question in terms of market geography.
- Principle of Difference – Addressing “what to play” question in terms of differentiation and exploitation.
- Principle of Value – Addressing “how do we win” question in terms of top line focused innovation excellence ideas.
DECISION FOCUSED PRINCIPLES
- Principles of Talent – Addressing “who we are” question in terms of forming the team with a good mix of skill, talent and gifting.
- Principle of Profit – Addressing the "why do we exist" question in terms of the profit dimension.
- Principle of Focus – Addressing “where to play” question in terms of product and services categories.
- Principle of Conformity – Addressing “What to play” question in terms of prevention and mitigation.
- Principle of Rewards - Addressing “How do we win” question in terms of bottom line focused operational excellence ideas.
As we can recognize from this set of destiny-decision balanced principles, it is clearly evident that balancing them is a key- and so it is all the more important for organizations to use the proper electric wheel (analytics) to solve the right strategic planning issues with a "doing both" mindset. In addition, augmenting these principles with the right set of accountability/governance processes and principles will indeed make our organizations a best in class in our industry vertical.