You don’t need a formal strategy role to help shape your organization’s strategic direction. Start by moving beyond frameworks and communicating in a more engaging way
JULY 2012 • Michael Birshan and Jayanti Kar
Source: Strategy Practice
In This Article
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We are entering the age of the strategist. As our colleagues Chris Bradley, Lowell Bryan, and Sven Smit have explained in “Managing the strategy journey,” a powerful means of coping with today’s more volatile environment is increasing the time a company’s top team spends on strategy. Involving more senior leaders in strategic dialogue makes it easier to stay ahead of emerging opportunities, respond quickly to unexpected threats, and make timely decisions.
This is a significant change. At a good number of companies, corporate strategy has long represented the bland aggregation of strategies that individual business unit heads put forward.1 At others, it’s been the domain of a small coterie, perhaps led by a chief strategist who is protective of his or her domain—or the exclusive territory of a CEO.
Rare is the company, though, where all members of the top team have well-developed strategic muscles. Some executives reach the C-suite because of functional expertise, while others, including business unit heads and even some CEOs, are much stronger on execution than on strategic thinking. In some companies, that very issue has given rise to the position of chief strategy officer—yet even a number of executives playing this role disclosed to us, in a series of interviews we conducted over the past year, that they didn’t feel adequately prepared for it.
This article draws on those interviews, as well as our own and our colleagues’ experience working with numerous executives developing strategies, adapting planning approaches, and running strategy capability-building programs. We offer three tips that any executive can act on to become more strategic. They may sound deceptively simple, but our interviews and experience suggest that they represent foundational skills for any strategist and that putting them into practice requires real work. We’ve also tried, through examples, to present practical ways of acting on each suggestion and to show how doing so often means augmenting experience-based instincts with fresh perspectives.