Being there is everything!
Strategy is still popular. If there is any ambiguity or vagueness, it is elegantly shoved into the “Strategy” topic area. And you can’t know that for sure anyway, it actually concerns the future and that is known to be uncertain.
Nevertheless, discussing the future is still attractive in many companies. Often packed into externally accompanied strategy events – with social get-togethers and overnight stays in beautiful surroundings – people eagerly work on their own destiny. And the work process must also be entertaining, of course – “Otherwise people will fall asleep, so come up with something crisp, something new that surprises and challenges us. But please don’t overtax us, otherwise the board will be irritated. By the way, we also need a new culture, with more dynamism and effervescence. And openness, you know, honest exchange and so on. As the moderator, please bring this point to the table; our executives don’t quite live it yet. It’ll work out fine!”
Yet everything could be very simple. Break strategy work into blocks:
- Strategy work for dummies Part I: Recognizing the target in the fog!
- Strategy work for dummies part II:
Let’s go – but which way to go?
I don’t even dare to mention the third part, because the implementation of the defined path is “naturally part of our corporate culture anyway”. From my perspective, it remains as a major challenge.
Almost no one believes in consistency and staying the course any more anyway – “We’ve had this topic here before, and despite strong announcements, not much has been done…”, so people act flexibly and creatively in terms of behavior, talk a lot and with importance.
But how to escape from the thicket of the strategic jungle?
It is helpful to get moving. And in the desired direction. This means, in addition to shaping the desired target image, taking a few steps in the right direction right away. Namely, immediately, still in the context of the strategy event.
So when it comes to the topic of openness, as a desired cultural attribute in the future, leaders can share stories and adventures they have experienced. They are role models and pioneers in action – if they openly report on assessment, or even uncertainties (without devaluing themselves), employees will follow accordingly.
I recommend setting the framework with executives prior to strategy work. After all, the results should match the attitude and management team. Standing by convictions and idiosyncrasies means articulating them clearly and, where desired, presenting them as unalterable. So there’s no point in questioning these in the work process – as long as this team is leading here, this is the playground and these are the rules of the game.
Don’t accumulate too much or: “Beware of the strategy bubble”.
When talking about the future, many aspects, suggestions and options for action are collected. These must be reduced in order to prevent a strategy bubble from developing. So, if possible, pick up energies and impulses and take first actions. Then the probability of further activities is increased accordingly. “Walk the talk” could therefore be strategy work for dummies part III. Sounds suspiciously banal and simple. But is still the biggest challenge in my experience.
Namely, to be able to take the findings directly into everyday life, thereby reinforcing the desired behavior and actually enabling change.
Laughter is also allowed
I almost forgot one aspect, the humorous one. Because he who laughs is not afraid – not even of his (own) future. Humor takes away fear, releases blockades and enables change without losers.
So when, in a strategy project that I am supporting, a colleague in a white caftan suddenly appears as a “wise man from the Orient” and gives the small groups good tips and asks annoying questions, this is entirely desirable. We want to inspire, question and also irritate a little – then something new can emerge.
And allegedly someone has sung there on the strategy day …
I recommend the following further literature
- On the subject of “fixing the frame”:
Changing Changes – The Relational Change Management, Sonja Radatz, Verlag Literatur-VSM
- In the direction of “lean or agile work on the future”:
Effectuation – How successful entrepreneurs think, decide and act, Michael Faschingbauer, Verlag Schäffer Poeschl
- On the subject of working with the whole system:
Future Search – The Future Conference – How Organizations Find Goals and Common Action, Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff, Verlag Klett-Cotta