ompanies with executives still believing in a predictable and planable future, and leaders still having a machine-like understanding of organizations will continue to see the development of a strategy as a special process which can be delegated to strategy-staff or external experts and performed in longer intervals.
In our view, a more appropriate way for strategy work is to make it a continuous part of management activities. Instead of delegating the responsibility to the outside, you can organize strategic dialogues and listen actively to new voices: Voices of customers, suppliers, users and from different parts of the company. That is how a permanent integration of new perspectives, continuous developments development (wirklich doppelt?) and committed implementation of a strategy is achieved.
Strategy-Workshops for the creation of the future
The transition to continuous strategy work leads the leadership team to periodic strategic dialogues. Metaphorically spoken it is about stepping out of the river of the daily operations to get to the shore of the strategic reflection. Only there you have the possibility to discuss relevant strategic topics in a productive time-out situation.
Every six to twelve months would are an ideal time frame to identify necessary changes and we also recommend to intervalically focus on strategical issues like:
- the unexpected successes and failures of the own company as well as the unexpected success and failures of competitors,
- irregularities, especially those in the production or distribution processes;
- irregularities in customer behavior,
- process deficiencies,
- changes in industry and market structures,
- demographic changes, changing attitudes and perceptions,
- new knowledge.
At first this is not so much about finding quick answers but rather finding relevant strategical questions. Unquestioned assumptions should be questioned, doubts about „unwritten laws” should be admitted. Possible future scenarios should be discussed and new views should be allowed to arise.
The voice of a top manager:
“What we need today is „sample thinking”: that means, we sit together with the management team, which we do every year for a week, and look our opportunities, our chances. Then we sift through it together: how would we do this and this, and what would we do with that. That’s what I call „sample thinking”. If then an opportunity pops up during the year not one of my area directors and not one of the heads of the country-organizations need to ask what to do. Because they know what to do! They act and report the results. That’s why we are months ahead of our competitors, and why we can seize opportunities even in a very small window of opportunity.”
To dig deeply into really substantial strategic issues, it is important to get in distance from daily events, to have sufficient time for mutual dialogue and to consciously slow down.
Whenever a leadership team gets to this point the results are a lot better and more sustainable than with any other method.
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