Category Archives: Strategic Planning

Why strategy and leadership are partners

On paper at least, its straightforward. Setting a strategy infers a capacity, or at least a desire to, influence the direction of a group.

And that word “influence” infers leadership.

So, what is leadership? My favourite quote, from John Haggai, is:

“Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it toward goals of beneficial permanance that fulfill the group’s real needs.”

That leadership is all about influence. About deliberately exerting that influence.

That the aim of leadership is about outcomes. Those outcomes should be what the group’s real needs are.

And leadership is about legacy. Its about outcomes of permanence. Goals of beneficial permanence.

Thus, the arena of strategic planning is intertwined with the arena of leadership.

Now, we can get caught up in the types of leaders (autocratic, bureaucratic, charismatic, etc). And yes, we can start discussing the types of strategy (design, planning, positioning, emergent, and so on). We can even debate the types of intelligences that are best for leaders (analytical, cognitive, social, et al).

But when discussion and thinking turn to strategy. Part of that communication and reflection must include a recognition that at some point you will turn to an aspect of leadership.

 
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Systems thinking

Developing strategy is often not a simple linear process. Its not “let’s do A, then B, then C”.

For you need to consider what the impacts are upon A, and what the other areas are that A will impact. For it just might be that A influences something which in turn makes C irrelevant.

Its called systems thinking. Its a way of thinking that considers all of the relationships between all of the components. And further, it considers the level and direction of influence that each of those components have on each other.

And systems are everywhere. There are interconnections between different businesses and between individuals within a business. We have a system of roads, of air & rail transport, and so on. There are systems within hospitals, within universities, and within emergency services providers. Think of a sporting club also as a system, even your family!

But what marks out a system? Its the flow of information, its the time delay between action and outcome, its the feedback loop between the output and input. Its the complexity derived from many interconnected parts.

Regarding the flow of information. How does information move from one part of the system to another? What external information comes into the system? What information is prevented from making its way around the parts of the system. And thinking about the profile of the information – is it always the same, are do the makeup of the messages transferred change from time to time?

Regarding time delays and feedback loops. How long does it take for an effect to be noticed? Do any outcomes loop back and change the next input?

So when developing strategy, think of the flow of information and think of the time difference between when something is started and when it will be finished. For when that 1 year, 3 year, or 5 year plan has come to pass the context of that plan’s completed state will be different to the current one. And the difference will be in part related to the mix and flow of information and changing influences throughout that 1, 3 or 5 year period.

For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my IT-centric blog.

Improving Business Performance

How is your organisation tracking? Surviving or thriving? Well, think about this … applying the principles of strategic management to any size business or organisation will improve performance.

Also consider this: ‘‘Small businesses that engage in contemporary strategic management practices tend to outperform those that do not.’’

This comes from a Brighton University (UK) study conducted several years ago (2007). Even though it is not a recent study, the conclusions those involved in the research are still relevant today. One startling one was that “strategic thinking is an essential ingredient in enterprise survival, performance and growth“.

Thus, what is your view on survival, performance & growth? Do you look for new, are you just hanging on, are things going well & will they continue to go well? The theory and practice strongly suggests that it is a matter of how you treat strategy. Of what your view is of the future. Its whether or not you plan sufficiently.

Now, when it comes to defining strategy, there are three broad areas to consider:

  1. what are the products & services to be offered?
  2. what markets are to be targeted?
  3. how is competitive advantage secured and maintained?

And the process of strategic management does not need to be overly complex, but it does need to be done. The mindshift that needs to be made is moving from working in the business to working on the business.

For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my IT-centric blog.