Numerous studies in the business world have shown that even when strategies are well-crafted, most organizations fall short when it comes to execution. One key reason for this, I believe, is that organizational leaders are usually not equipped with the appropriate tools for strategic management. Tools and techniques that help answer the question of “How are we doing?” are fundamentally different from strategy management tools that help answer the question of “How are we going to get to where we want to go?”
A new generation of forward-looking techniques and tools can provide valuable capabilities for helping organizations manage the future.
Strategy: a “Game Plan” for the Future
At the heart of most good strategies, you will find a vision of where the leaders desire the organization to be in three to five years. If it is a well-crafted strategy, it will go beyond lofty goals to specify carefully-selected choices and changes that are to be the primary “pathways” by which the organization will reach that envisioned destination. These strategic pathways are often referred to as strategic themes. Except for organizations that have a deliberate strategy to “keep on doing what we’re doing, but just do it a little better,” most strategies involve some significant “big idea” changes, each of which involves a complex web of supporting changes to be successful.
New Tools for Looking Forward, not Backwards
When organizations want to manage strategy, many look to find a performance dashboard. Interestingly, traditional performance dashboards are not well suited for managing the future. Most performance measures are hard-wired to looking backwards. How did we do last month on customer satisfaction? How much money did we make or lose last month? Even real-time monitoring is not about the future. If you think about an automobile dashboard, it may tell you how much gas you have, how fast you are going, and the speed at which your engine is running, but it doesn’t help you get to a future destination. That requires a GPS navigation system or mapping tools like Google Maps. In organizations, “forward-looking” capabilities should allow leaders and employees to come together to orchestrate the myriad of changes that can enable a breakthrough transformation.
In this blog, we look forward to sharing about some of the powerful new tools for strategic management that are being used by a growing number of organizations around the world. Stay tuned for more content to come.