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Bruce Holland

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Strategy perpetuates the status quo

“Strategic planners pride themselves on their rigor. Strategies are supposed to be driven by numbers and extensive analysis and uncontaminated by bias, judgment, or opinion. The larger the spreadsheets, the more confident an organization is in its process. All those numbers, all those analyses, feel scientific, and in the modern world, “scientific” equals “good.”

“Yet if that’s the case, why do the operations managers in most large and midsize firms dread the annual strategic planning ritual? Why does it consume so much time and have so little impact on company actions? Talk to those managers, and you will most likely uncover a deeper frustration: the sense that strategic planning does not produce novel strategies. Instead, it perpetuates the status quo.”

So starts the Harvard Review article (Sept. 2012), “Bring Science to the Art of Strategy.”

I agree entirely with their analysis of the problem; however, I agree less with their solution to the problem. In my view strategy needs logic and magic; the weighting of which depends mostly on the level of change the strategy will require in technology and changes it will require in people.

Logic and magic

In a more predictable market where there are few changes required in either technology or people, a weighting towards logic may be appropriate; however, in a less predictable market (and today most are) more magic is required. Today the environment for most strategy processes is requiring a more “Magic” (sometimes called Wicked) approach; despite this, most strategist rely on the “Classic/Management” approach described above.

In my experience most New Zealand organisations rely far too much on the logic approach. As a result, many strategic workshops are boring, and not nearly as successful as they could be. We need a new model of strategy.

Here’s how it could be

  • "Great presentations, well managed and good deliverables. Enjoyed every minute. Highly recommended. You clearly delivered on what you set out to do - loved it all! Luke Maxwell, Manager Transaction Services, ANZ National Bank

  • "Excellent, well paced, well moderated, took us along the path at just the right pace. A very robust and obviously well-tested process that more than achieved its objectives. Trust the process! It's tested and it really works. Taking all factors into account the workshop was one of the best I've been to. 5 out of 5." Peter Lee, CEO, Institute of Financial Advisers.

  • "Excellent facilitation as usual! Skillful guidance of a herd of cats. Excellent process for bring focus to strategic thinking. Taking all factors into account the workshop was one of the best I've been to. 5 out of 5." Liz Koh, Director, Institute of Financial Advisers.

  • "I think the workshops were very useful, targeting intended objective. The prework was relevant and easy to follow. As for the facilitation, this was one of the best workshops/courses I attended. It was engaging and interesting. Use Bruce. Guaranteed to deliver. Very interesting and engaging methods of facilitating a workshop. Rating 5 out of 5 (one of the best I've been to)." Zvonko Lazic, Magnet Engineer, HTS-110.

  • "Very effective process whereby facilitator has low profile with consequential high involvement of participants. Process provided desired outcomes in timely and broadly involved manner." Overall score 4 out of 5. David Hill, Chief Executive, Capacity Infrastructure Services.

  • "The process was insightful and reminded me of exciting times at a previous job. this bought direction, confidence and belief to our ability to succeed . Go with an open mind and be prepared to be challenged. This process has bought direction to our company. It has identified our strengths as a team." Overall score: Five out of five. Murray Seamark, Manufacturing Director, Canary Enterprises.

  • "Brilliant prework because it really got me thinking in a bigger, strategic way before we got into the detail. No hesitation in recommending Bruce." Emily Loughnan, CEO, Click Suite, Business woman of the year.

  • "Good preparation material, well linked into workshop. Good facilitation with diverse group." Kim Wicksteed, Chief Executive Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi.

Regards Bruce.
Bruce Holland
Virtual Group Business Consultants
Phone +6421620456 or Skype Bruce.Holland\\
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Key words: Leadership, leadership development, leadership management, leadership training, leadership program, leadership skills.

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