Friday, January 8, 2016

Digital Master Tuning #121: Three Characteristics of DIgital Strategy

Strategy planning needs to become a “living process, with frequent evaluation, listening, and revision.

Digital strategy planning is a living process, and a good strategy is not “superficial,” it needs to dig deeper and diagnose the root causes of emergent business issues, because digital organization is a part of the dynamic business ecosystem that connects digital dots or resources inside and outside of the organization to create values for customers. So the piecemeal strategy of bolting digital channels to the business is no longer sufficient, and digital strategy needs to be shifted from top-down one-way direction to organizational inclusion, from static and linear strategy-execution scenario to dynamic strategy execution continuum; from a single strategy documentation often put on the shelf to an ongoing strategy portfolio. More specifically, what are the characteristics of an executable digital strategy?

Cascading: There is always a right balance of a long-term strategy and short-term business goals. The length of strategy is situational - 5, 3, 1 year, etc. a good strategy needs to well reflect the business’ long-term vision, and the ideal length of strategy should be long enough to well plan the company’s future with foresight and confidence, but also short enough to sense the urgency to execute it effectively. The strategy needs to be breakable down into goals and objectives, and then a series of tactical steps that further become nests fo doable operational tasks, and individuals’ daily work. If people can see a direct link between what they do and what’re the strategic goals of an organization, they will be more engaged in the work and unleash their potential to align their career path with the business’s long-term goals and prosperity. Also, strategy planning needs to become a “living process, with frequent evaluation, listening, and revision. Long-term planning has its place, but linearity and over-prescriptiveness don’t.

Capability-based: A business capability is what the organization can deliver the certain result in a repetitive way via a specific ordering of people, processes, resources, information & technology,e etc. aimed at creating a defined business outcome. Strategy makers have to have a clear understanding of the link between business capabilities and the companies’ strategies. All business have certain capabilities, what matter is whether those capabilities are necessities or unique competency, and their maturity level, because the high-mature set of business capabilities can make the company more adaptable and perform effectively with agility. So it’s important to prepare a strategic plan that points the business toward to a direction where it can maximize its performance and reap as many benefits (to leverage short term and long run) as possible. A capability-based strategy is to well bridge “as-is” and “to-be” state, not only leading toward the destination but also building and optimizing the set of digital competency on the way.

Action Effect: Execution is always a part of the good strategy. Strategy planning shouldn’t be done without thinking about execution at the same time. Because coming up with a new strategy is easy, but executing them takes tireless effort and a lot of struggles. And statistically, more than two-thirds of strategy execution fail to achieve the expected results. Therefore, the business needs to encourage the blend of strategic and critical thinking about the strategy management which includes strategy-execution continuum, demonstrates the evidence via analytics or performance measures that the business is actually doing things to build differentiation, have the ability to implement well-setting goals and objectives, and generate business improvement continuously. The “Action Effect” dimension often lags, but it’s the determinant of a good strategy.

Digitalization brings unprecedented opportunities and risk for today’s businesses, it also raises many questions about strategy-making and implementation. Successful digital transformations take good strategies to diagnose business problems, and reshape the organizations to take advantage of valuable existing strategic assets in new ways, and continue to planning, experimenting, scaling up, building differentiated capabilities and competencies in order to achieve high-performing result effortlessly.


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