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Five delusions holding business back :

Updated: Jun 16, 2018

Dr Marc Stigter & Sir Cary Cooper, Authors, Solving the Strategy Delusion: Mobilizing People and Realizing Distinctive Strategies

Let’s not beat about the bush. Most strategic efforts aren’t being realised successfully. Most leaders aren’t consumed with organisational strategy but are instead overwhelmed with managing day-to-day operational challenges. Most strategies aren’t distinctive and created from the Outside-In but rather from the Inside-Out. Most organisations aren’t really customer centric but are mainly sales and marketing driven. Most workforces aren’t engaged but are paralysed by inertia and collectively withdrawing extra-energies. Most values and desired behaviours aren’t being demonstrated consistently and enduringly in organisations today. What’s going on?

Simply put, we believe that many businesses are trapped in deluded beliefs when it comes to the much-exploited term of strategy. Somewhere along the line strategy hijacked itself to become little more than a box-ticking exercise failing to take almost any organisation forward. So, how can this strategy delusion be solved? How can insights be unlocked and distinctive strategies be created? How can workforces be mobilised and strategies be realised enduringly?

Before embarking on any strategy journey, make sure to surround yourself with disciples. Establish an A-team equipped not just with operational proficiency but also with strategic capability, strategic understanding, and strategic engagement to leading and realising distinctive organisational strategies.

Then start letting go of the status quo. Don’t hold on to ingrained organising models, to 20th century leadership styles, to conventional strategic thinking, to periodic and monopolised planning, or to new versions of old strategies. 

Instead, start sensing and co-creating from the Outside-In. Unlock deep customer insights through seeing, feeling and thinking from their perspective first. Be customer-value driven as opposed to product, sales or marketing driven. Co-create distinctive strategies together with existing, new and prospective customers, and also other stakeholders. Don’t forget to link sensing, creation and realisation into one continuous strategic practice.

Don’t even attempt to mobilise people with a 70-page strategic plan. Instead, commit to co-creation of a compelling story. Gain a critical mass of people at multiple levels who are proficient (Can), who are aligned (Know), and who are emotionally committed (Want) to realising strategic change.

Don’t just inform people about the strategy through conventional corporate ‘communication’. But engage them through deeper dialogue and sensemakingthroughout the organisation. Also, gain deep insights and feedback by interacting with your employees through social media. 

Make sure to unleash energy through behaviours. Hold people accountable to be high performers and demonstrate desired behaviours. Exhibit zero-tolerance of misbehaviours including from high performing people. Reinforce desired behaviours and take decisive action in relation to misbehaviours. Such action will guard the social energy that provides meaning, direction and mobilisation.

Recognise at individual level. Recognise employees for their contributions. Individual recognition is the most critical driver for the exertion of extra-energies as perceived by employees. Remember that the most meaningful source of recognition is their immediate manager or supervisor. So, reinforce to people-managers the importance of recognising their staff sincerely, timely, and personally.

Finally and vitally, sustain leadership orchestration. Devote yourself and your A-team to orchestrating the practices of Sensing, Co-creating, Realising, Recognising, and Behaving. This means continuously and simultaneously inter-linking and renewing all of these practices, not just one or two. Such sustained leadership orchestration of all practices ensures the organisation moves ahead of the market… enduringly.

About the Author

Dr Marc Stigter is an international strategy advisor and Principal of Critical Management Group, (Australia). Sir Cary Cooper is Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University (UK).  They are the authors of the book titled Solving the Strategy Delusion: Mobilizing People and Realizing Distinctive Strategies, recently released by Palgrave MacMillan.

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