Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Who killed strategy?

I'm sitting in a pretty nice presentation about strategy and the old chestnut came up: "what is harder, strategy or implementation?"

I have my own thoughts about that but don't wish to offer a "shoot from the hip" argument here.

But if people are arguing that operations (implementation) is harder than strategy it could be because - often - the operations people are labouring for an enterprise that doesn't really know what it is, or where it wants to go.

As Shelley Dunstone has been saying - perhaps implementation is hard when strategy is bad.

I think rumours the death of strategy have been greatly exaggerated. But if it has been killed then who's responsible?

My answer: Strategy has been killed by the people who've used it as a place to hide.

People who turn up to work and instead of calling a customer, delivering a product, taking a hard chat to an employee or any number of other productive tasks - they say "I'm working on strategy".

Or when a clever idea comes from the floor and gets cut down with "it's not our business - its not consistent with our strategy" but the naysayers have trouble saying exactly what that strategy is.

Strategy - the big picture planning - is very important. And it deserves better than to be used as a way of ducking a day's work. That's what has trashed the reputation of "strategy" as an activity and led to rumours of its death.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. Fortunately just a rumour. Punk, Elvis and 'strategy' are not dead. Strategy could be revived. If strategists are not able to keep the !corporate! strategy in a continuum by actively checking how its implementation is working out there and by continuously adjusting their big plan, then maybe not just them but the whole business is going to duck out of the market.

  2. A good strategy is one that can be implemented effectively. While strategy may be seemingly dead in small and medium enterprise it definitely exists in any of the larger corporations. It would be very hard to foster a value driving workforce without a plan.
    If anyone is using strategy to duck a day’s work it'll reflect on the organisation's performance; not necessarily in the short-term but inevitably after a few quarters. People that turn up and call the customer are great but strategy is what gives meaning to their actions.

  3. I've seen many a business do exactly as you say - going out of business because they're talking about a future that may or may not happen while nobody's on the till, taking money from customers willing to buy. Sure - we need a plan but if we're a business that only ever puts energy into long term planning, we won't be a business for long. I think it's a problem with employment all round - everybody wants to start at the top. Sometimes, if we're employed to sweep the floor then we should just sweep the floor.