Strategy, as an organizational discipline, got its real start with the military – the word comes from a Greek word meaning “generalship.” Fast forward a few millennia, and we know it best in the context of “strategic planning,” a field that got a big boost in the 50s and 60s as it was introduced in large corporations.
The trouble is, all of those settings were hierarchical, “command and control” structures. In those contexts, a strategy is successful as long as the communication down the chain of command is clear, and as long as the environment is relatively stable. Strategic planning, with its linear sequence of goals to objectives to activities to timelines to (you can fill in the blank) sets out what will happen in great detail, over a long time horizon, to meet a particular vision or set of organizational values. And that’s when the strategic plan is complete – we’ve seen plenty of plans that either didn’t have a sense of purpose, or weren’t specific enough for anyone to carry out.
More to the point, this kind of hierarchy isn’t the world most of us live in anymore. Much of our work requires collaboration, whether between organizations, or among units within the same organization. There’s often no one person that calls the shots. Instead of our old habits of command and control, we have to figure out how to align and activate a network of people and organizations. In this new context, a new approach to strategy is required.
Strategic Doing isn’t about fixing an old system – it’s about designing what’s next. If you’re ready for tools that work in the new world of networks, check out our opportunities to learn more in person or online..