The strategy conversation you can only have here
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of
\– Henry Ford
How does strategy get implemented in your organisation? Are you the under ten soccer team or the birds flying in formation? Or perhaps a combination?
The amazing thing about both of these images is comparing the amount of energy expended vs what is achieved. Both the birds and the boys are working hard. They are expending energy and putting in an effort. The outcomes are however dramatically different.
I sometimes get asked by executives who we should include in the strategy process. The answer, 'Everyone who needs to support the implementation of the strategy', is not obvious until you reverse the question. 'Who is not needed to implement the strategy?'
If we liken a company implementing their strategy to the production of a Broadway play, then the question of who in the cast and crew doesn't need to know the overall plan shines a light on the absurdity of the question. If someone doesn't need to know then why are they there?
Of course, there are different degrees. Leaders in the organisation with a broad span or responsibility need to have a deeper knowledge of the strategy than someone deep in the organisation with a very specific role who is only connected with a few other people.
The Industrial Age brought about a way of thinking where we could take big complex tasks and divide them up into many smaller parts. This way of getting things done is incredibly powerful as Henry Ford figured out in the early 20th century. The term Line Manager originates from this time and refers to the person at the end of a production line who made sure all employees on the line did what they were meant to do.
I learned from poet David Whyte that even the word manage originates from the Italian maneggiare meaning to handle applied mostly to tools or a horse. This is at odds with wanting our people to show up, take initiative and be innovative.
Today almost everyone is expected to do much more conceptual work, and this industrial approach doesn't work very well. Alignment is a critical component in the success of every business. While Henry Ford's version of alignment included conformity today alignment is much more difficult.
We can start out with a wonderful strategy that very quickly turns into an u8 soccer team when struck by the reality of the world. Some careful thought is required to involve people throughout your organisation in the strategy so that they not only know what it is but also what their role is in making it succeed.
Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face
- Mike Tyson