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Strategy and Learning: Is your company Too Cool for School?

Is your strategy formulated in detail at the top and passed down in whole through the various levels of doers? Do all reporting levels of management have their Management by Objectives (MBOs) completed with performance measurements in place? Are you feeling assured of success? Instead, you should be worried. This is what is called a We think; You do, approach to strategy, and these days it is remedial.

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In my career, I made my name by accelerating the pace of learning by my supporting group and out-executing my competitors both internally and externally. That is how I rapidly rose through the chain of command. Then, initially as a top executive, I was strongly encouraged to employ formal strategy, taking input from the best strategy consultants money could buy. But it never really worked, as too many managers felt left out of the process. In short order, I concluded that Strategy is DEAD!

Have you heard the statistic that over 90% of all strategies fail to be executed (as intended)? As a consequence, consider how many reporting managers have been rapped hard on the knuckles or fired for failing to execute their Management by Objectives (MBOs) which we're tied to rigid formal strategies? Instead, shouldn't their top leaders have been getting the knuckle-rappings and the firings? The fact is that the new normal business environment is way too dynamic for rigid formal strategy paired with MBOs, or whatever they are called these days.

We all know that there is a significant range of performance for every job. The biggest reason is the level of engagement. Listenyou can even hear it. At the low end, it sounds like, Just tell me what to do, and by the way, how soon can I leave for the day? At the high end, it sounds like, Wow, I finally figured out how to do this better! I can't wait to tell my work buddies and my boss!

Formal strategy, i.e., We think; You do, begets low levels of engagement and performance at mid to lower levels of management, particularly in the field. There, the common perception is that Those corporate guys in HQ have no clue about what happens down here, i.e., in the real world.

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Posted in Investing Post Date 02/03/2016


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