it’s all about strategy
not what you’re telling me
what you’re telling me
i’ve found that descriptions are useless
nothing but the combination of words and numbered pieces
Henry Mintzberg, the iconoclastic former president of the Strategic Management Society, unmasked strategic planning in several of his works. As one of America’s most brilliant and original management thinkers, Mintzberg concluded that the term “Strategic Planning” is an oxymoron. He was convinced that strategy could not be planned because planning is about analysis, whereas strategy is about synthesis.
This makes a great deal of sense to me particularly, well… you’d be believed if you told your colleague, that after careful analysis, scientists concluded there are 300 billion stars in the universe. You see, that’s analysis, and derivative to planning! But if you said that a bench has wet paint on it, they’d need to touch it just to be sure. And, frankly, I think that’s a good strategy!
My credo is Aligning IT with the Business is no longer enough… Technology leaders must be business strategists.
So, what is strategy?
Well, you can go for formal definitions like Johnson and Scholes in their text “Exploring Corporate Strategy”
“Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term: which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholder expectations”.
And who am I to argue? But it is so formal and so difficult to really digest – and it gets much more painful to realize the larger your organization becomes. Over the years, as strategy has become inextricably linked to economic rationalism, creativity has increasingly become its red-headed stepchild.
Believe it or not, it is ideas that beget strategies. How many worthwhile strategies have been born of the loins of spreadsheet columns?
Good ideas are painfully hard to find. The only way to ensure that you get them, is to nurture a culture of innovation. Building a strategic plan once a year does not make for great ideas… they have to be part of your corporate DNA. Lived every moment of every action of every part of your corporate being.
Think about the castaways on Gilligan’s Island.
- They defined some really great solutions, leveraging the riches of the island and their respective talents.
- They created and sustained a great organization, their society and their survival on that island – albeit to sustain further absurd episodic adventures!
- There was an abundance of creativity and originality in many of their zany ideas, everything from coconut radios to bamboo cars.
- And yet every episode faced the painfully difficult objective of leaving the island.
The last episode of the show, “Gilligan the Goddess”, aired on April 17, 1967, and ended just like the rest, with the castaways still stranded on the island. It was not known at the time that it was the last episode, as a fourth season was expected, but never happened.
Did they have a strategy, or were they innovating strategically?
Often, changes in business can leave you stranded – get innovative, find that great idea and enjoy the painful process of creation. It’s your only way out! The strategy will come…
Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.