A more Human Centred Approach to Strategy

🟤 Strategy & Leadership

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James Kitney
James Kitney
Chief Strategy and Transformation Catalyst
January 15, 2024

Traditional strategy making has long been the domain of Corporate Strategy Teams, Executives and Consultants. For most employees in an organisation the first time they see or hear about any changes to strategy is when a new poster goes on the wall or their manager ‘informs’ them what the new strategy is.

There are two problems here:

Firstly – this process puts enormous trust that the strategy team, executives and consultants know more about the business, the industry and trends than anyone else. Rarely are insights, perspectives and ideas gathered from employees, customers, and partners.

Secondly – When it comes to execution, employees are essentially told what the strategy is and to align to it. This in our experience rarely works due to individual motivations and belief that it is the right strategy. Research from Harvard Business Review found that 67% of well formulated strategies fail due to poor execution.

So how do we solve for it?

Our Strategy Design approach by Five leverages an open approach to strategy creation.

Open strategy breaks the confines of conventional, top-down planning. It creates an environment where diverse voices, both internal and external, contribute to shaping the organisation's future. This philosophy embraces several key pillars:

* Transparency: Sharing relevant information with stakeholders, fostering open communication, and fostering trust through authenticity.

* Collaboration: Actively engaging employees at all levels, customers, partners, and even competitors to co-create ideas and solutions.

* Experimentation: Encouraging a culture of testing and adapting to learn from failures as stepping stones to success.

* Agility: Responding rapidly to market shifts and adapting strategies in real-time through iterative loops of feedback and action.

A multitude of advantages

The advantages of open strategy extend far beyond a few trendy words. By taking an open approach we unlock a whole range of additional benefits

* Improved Innovation: Diverse perspectives stimulate the generation of new ideas, leading to breakthrough solutions and diversity of perspective

* Boosted Employee Engagement: When individuals feel their voices matter and their contributions are valued, engagement, ownership, and productivity soar.

* Greater Market Intelligence: Tapping into the collective intelligence of your team and external stakeholders provides invaluable insights into customer needs, competitor strategies, and emerging trends.

* Accelerated Agility: Open communication and collaborative decision-making allow organisations to adapt swiftly to changing market dynamics, providing a platform to leapfrog competitors stuck in rigid plans.

Taking action

Transforming your approach from traditional strategy formulation to an open one requires some deliberate action. Here are some key steps you can take to open your strategy formulation process:

* Define the Playing Field: Identify areas where open approaches can add significant value, balancing the need for strategic control with the potential benefits of collaboration.

* Strategy Discos: At Five we call our Discovery sessions a Disco… why?... because they are FUN! Disco’s are collaborative sessions that get employees, customers and partners involved in any part of your strategy formulation process. This could be to understand market trends, to gather new ideas, or to critique existing ideas on what would need to be true for them to be a successful strategy.

* Prototyping and Testing: Good strategy never pretends it has all the answers. All strategies need to be validated and often that requires real world learning to see how your business, customers and competitors might respond. Involve your employees through the testing process, sharing their learnings to inform the next iteration of the strategy.

* Align to Execute: Involving all employees from the CEO to the front line in aligning their work to strategy is critical to point the ship in the right direction. We use tools like OKRs, Lean Portfolio Management and Quarterly Planning to help your teams consider how their efforts align to strategy, what outcomes it drives and ultimately what they are learning to ensure you have execution agility.

How we can help

Five can help you to take an open approach to strategy in a number of ways.

* We can coach and support you to do it yourself,

* We can design, and facilitate specific open strategy workshops and interactive sessions for you employees, customers and partners to engage in,

* We can design and deliver an overall Strategy cycle leveraging the principles of open strategy.

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January 15, 2024
January 15, 2024

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