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After several years when strategy seemed to fall out of favour, it's suddenly top of the pops again. Following a period when the old ways have so obviously failed, everyone wants to think through their direction and their business model.
Strategy is about being strongest at the decisive point. It's about finding out what really matters (what's decisive) and putting your horsepower behind that point. The analogy is of a sharp knife that cuts through easily or a magnifying glass that focuses the sun until fire occurs.
Strategy is about big difficult to change decisions. Decisions about the organisation's focus, the investment of resources, and how to coordinate activities across the organisation. These may be costly, time-consuming or simply impossible to change outside the strategic process.
Strategy is about tradeoffs, especial clarity around the Value Proposition. One of the most difficult things about strategy is deciding what you are going to give up (or tradeoff) so that you can focus more resources on what really matters. Organisations that don't have sufficient courage to tradeoff what does not matter for what does matter become boring and meaningless to their customers.
Managers get involved in many activities. Some of them add value, many don't. A five-year study separated the facts from the fads in terms of management tools. The study examined over 200 well-established management practices, over a 10 year period in 160 companies and found most management tools had no direct impact on superior business performance. Strategy was one of only four tools that really mattered.
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Even though strategy is one of the four most important things a manager can do, in a recent survey it was found that 85% of management teams spend less than one hour a month discussing their strategies.
Another recent American Management Association's survey unearthed the alarming statistic that executives spend about 75% of their valuable time 'putting out fires'. In other words, even though focusing on the future is what matters, managers are focussing on the past.
The truth is, strategy is hard work and most strategic workshops are so boring managers avoid them like the dentist. Also, they are a waste of time because nothing much changes after the sessions.
I have been told that managers go to these gatherings mainly to network and play golf. They are anaesthetised by hundreds of Power Point slides. Panel discussions are often sequential, unrelated ten-minute speeches. Nobody gets inspired; everyone suffers from bad backs and hangovers. The off-sites are merely excuses for the CEO to tell people what's already been decided. If you'd like a different approach...
Strategic workshops don't have to be boring, they can be fun, creative and energising. For a real example see...
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Help liberate the human spirit at work.
Bruce helps large mature organisations be more focused, fast and flexible. Places where people have more depth, connection and meaning. "Liberating the Human spirit at work"
Bruce helps large mature organisations be more focused, fast and flexible. Places where people have more depth, connection and meaning. He is one of New Zealand's most experienced change agents and is the founder of Virtual Group Business Consultants Limited.
"Liberating the Human spirit at work."
Key words: strategy, strategies, business strategy, business strategies, strategy management, strategic management, strategy development, implementation.