Showing posts with label strategic thinking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strategic thinking. Show all posts

Monday, 21 November 2016

Strategic Vision Drives Organisations Success

Drive Your Vision or Amlessly Drift 

In today’s world, driving your business vision is the only way to ensure you stay focused on where you want to go and not pulled by short-term fads and fashions. 
The words strategic planning used to mean a once a year offsite discussion about where the organisation is headed. That thinking would be turned into an updated business plan with expectations and outcomes to be delivered over that next year. That type of strategic planning the corporate away-day provide very little in the way of strategic thinking and subsequently provided no or very little strategic value. Corporate away days became more a morale booster, with team building and bonding as the only measure of development. The reason why was very simple, if there is no strategic intent, no strategic review or re-evaluation them there will be no strategic outcomes.   

Strategic thinking is more vital today for leaders of organisation than ever before. The need for organisations of any shape and size to be able to determine why they exist and where they intend to exist in their market has never ben stronger. Whether it is new players finding their first footing in their market, through to established players redefining where they are within their sector, the need for leaders to define their vision and validate their strategy to achieve that vision has become more critical than ever. The drivers of urgency are not just those of ever more powerful stakeholder expectation, but more demonstrably the globalisation of every market sector and the transparency of strategy in what it delivers to business. 

Problems with Strategic Thinking

The problem building a long-term strategic plan, the traditional cycle of business planning is that it is too long and therefore slow to react to rapidly changing business environments; particularly the slow speed of implementing traditional business plans, which has damaged the reputation and credibility of strategy. 

The slow pace of organizational change driven by traditional strategic business planning results in strategies which are out-of-date before they ready to deploy. 

The net result of this process is that organizations are sluggish to respond in fast-changing markets, left wrong-footed by new entrants in dynamic, high-growth markets leaving leaders frustrated and impotent in competing with agile, new entrants. In an technology driven world where disruptive online behaviours enable markets and customers to change overnight, thinking strategically can seen to be an outdated way of thinking.     
Developing effective strategies is vitally important because without them organisations become inward looking, focusing on efficiency at the expense of growth opportunity. Without strategic thinking leadership teams becomes operationally efficiency driven rather than customer focused.  

The key element of strategic thinking is the ability of leadership teams to look at what is driving change within any sector. Inspiring vision is about drawing intelligence from scratchy, vague or even 'invisible' data to make informed decisions about tomorrow's market and develop an aspirational strategy to achieve that vision.

Planning for Tomorrow

What do we know about what tomorrow will look like and what opportunities it will offer? Here are my five defining statements about the need for strategic thinking:- 
  1. It will happen whether we like it or not.
  2. Markets are always changing, new opportunities are always arising.
  3. If organisations strategically plan ahead they can successfully compete, rather than just survive by being a me too player.
  4. Strategic thinking has to be achieved and implemented faster than a market is developing if players wish to stay or move into more profitable, growing and sustainable market segments.
  5.  Without strategic thinking every organisation will go backwards in its market.

The Strategy Gap

The strategy gap: the lack of proactive strategic thinking is most often blamed on the lack of hard data 'facts' as the basis of making defined decisions. This has always been a factor in undermining the confidence leaders have in making plans for the future. 

As a result, strategic planning often focused on predicting the future based on historic trend lines, over-invest in gathering all available data, and produced a small number of safe directives often focused around the very near future, for the rest of the organization to execute.
This safety first approach to strategic planning leads to little steps, but is not really strategic thinking.  

"Genuine strategic thinking requires leaders to think of the future not based upon the past, but based upon the future market potential".   

With the advent of the internet there is now huge amounts of easily accessible affordable good data which is instantly and cheap to acquire. The world today has become a turbulent place, speed of change is no longer slowly evolutionary, but has become rapidly revolutionary in virtually every market. 

This has left the traditional strategic planning process with a fundamental problem, since the trusted, traditional and slow approach to strategic planning is based on assumptions that no longer hold. The static strategic plan is dead.

So why do strategy at all?  

Strategy is therefore under pressure as a process unlike never before.  If the outputs from traditional strategy, a traditional business plan with incremental evolution are no longer valued, then the value of strategy is being rightly questioned.  

The reason why strategy is not dead is that the strategic process, the way strategy is developed is essential in learning what is ‘right’, what is the future in a business sector.  This strategic approach to step out of your organisation and look at the market, defining internal aspirations and building the steps through experimental activity and forward pattern development enables shift culture to occur enabling agile strategy to be deployed. 

There are many renaming ceremonies for today's strategy process, all focusing on the move to redefine the strategic planning process, away from the traditional top-down long-term evolutionary strategic planning process to quicker, dynamic and responsive strategic thinking culture. This systematic and seismic shift in thinking away from process driven top down command and control process to one of continual strategic thinking culture. 

To make this shift to modern strategic thinking, leaders need to move away from traditional predictive planning to rapid prototyping supported by multifaceted experimenting.     

The second shift is that of 'frontline first' where leaders must enable the frontline with real decision-making authority. Successful strategic thinking requires objective and direction setting with a whole team focus.  Instead of a plan, the planning process is about whole team involvement in the mindset of goal achievement.              

The third and final major shift leaders need to focus on where the organisation is adding value to customers. As markets and customers rapidly change, who would have thought Google, the online search engine would be producing driverless cars, or Apple the IT company is managing middle-class health. 

What value any organisation customers value and are looking for is one of the major shifts which today's digital age is driving.   

Thursday, 31 January 2013

To think different step out of where you are and think differently!

Richard Gourlay's recommended TED talks to make you think.

If you want to develop strategy you need to step out of where you are at this moment to work ON your business not IN your business, one of the best ways to do this is to step away from the here and now and to think of something different, for just a few minutes.

TED Talks Worth Reading

So if you are looking for great ideas to motivate your creative thought from some of the world's current leading thinkers, each for just a few minutes long and are my selection from recent TED talks:-

A. Steve Jobs – Stanford Address click to see

The unique Steve Jobs speaking at his Stanford University graduation ceremony, (not TED). He recounts three different parts of his life each offering at least one important message but beyond that these episodes provide a fascinating insight into what made the great man tick. One of the most memorable talks you'll ever see and one I recommend to everyone.

B. Seth Godin  - How to get ideas to spread

Seth Godin, one of the greatest thinkers of our age explains how ideas spread, which ones do it well and why. Starting with Bread he explains how the paradigm shift of what makes some ideas successful and which ones don't. Sell to people who are listening is the answer we are all looking for, he explains how and why to stand out and why.    

C. Kevin Slavin - How algorithms shape the world

Kevin Slavin argues that we're living in a world designed for, and increasingly controlled by algorithms. He shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. Where are we going because we are writing code we can't understand, with implications we can't control.

D. Simon Sinek – why do people buy from you 

Simon Sinek, a great thinker, recounts some real-life examples of how people buy what you believe above all else. If you have to persuade people or sell to them as part of your job this brief clip WILL make a difference. I changed the way I present what I do after I watched it.

E. Sir Ken Robinson – Killing creativity click to see

Sir Ken Robinson, always entertaining, educational and informative thought provoking. Here he is talking about creativity and how education is killing it. With personal and real-life examples that will touch you he explains how to see the talent and find creativity in people. 

F. Derek Sivers – Starting a movement click to see 

Derek Sivers narrates a video clip of somebody who starts an extraordinary movement at a pop festival, of all places, and then draws lessons that anybody who wants to be a wow on the internet will want to learn. Want to grow a community? Well check this out. Also it really is fascinating to watch the community form before your eyes.

G. Malcom Gladwell Explaining why Spaghetti Sauce 

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Tipping Point etc, one of the world's great observers explains why some people prefer one product over another? Could this help you to promote your offering to better effect? I think so and the way Gladwell achieves it is by recounting how the perfect spaghetti sauce was developed; or not as the case may be.

H. Sheena Iyengar – How to make choices easier click to see 

When I watched this clip for the first time I was struck by the simplicity of Iyengar’s argument: put some effort into the way you build features and choices into your offerings and the way you present them to your clients. Love it!

I. Niall Ferguson – the 6 killer apps of prosperity

You may have seen the TV programme but either way this is a great talk which explores a) why the west was so successful in growing powerful and rich nations even though it started later than the east and b) why the east is now overtaking the west. Very thought-provoking and ingeniously presented by using the modern concept of Apps but for nations.

J. Nigel Marsh – how to make work-life balance work click to see 

One of the biggest challenges we face in the modern world is getting balance in our lives: how much time for work; how much for our friends and families and how much special time do we need for ourselves? A relatively easy question to answer you’d think but if you can’t seem to get there (you’re definitely not alone if you can’t) then try this talk by Nigel Marsh for size.

K. Paul Gilding – the Earth is Full click to see 

I don’t want to get into the whole green debate but wherever you stand on the subject this talk will certainly make you think. Gilding avoids the easy targets of lonely polar bears, shrinking icecaps and unusual weather patterns and comes from an angle that even made me sit up and think. If you watch it do so with an open mind – the logic behind his arguments is sound and irrefutable.

So here's some thinking, just 10 ideas from TED in video format, short high impact thought provoking learning, if you have others let me know?

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