Sunday, May 26, 2013

Can A Strategy be Sustainable

Businesses put significant effort to craft a good strategy, and expect strategy is sustainable to guide their long term growth. However, as the rate of change is accelerated, and strategy needs to be more dynamic than you think. Can a strategy still be sustainable?

  1. Strategy must be preceded by a vision. A well defined vision is very long lasting, missions should be ambitious enough to be sustainable over long periods and strategies that align well with the first two should be sustainable over longer term, but should be allowed to reflect significant dynamics that surround the enterprise. A vision, and its supporting strategic plan, must have some basis in reality; by which it mean that they must take into account, or at least account for, all of the present day factors that could have an impact. A strategy must take into account things as they are today and show how to progress to the future goal. Otherwise, it is not sustainable. 
  1. A strategy and a company become sustainable through conscious and deliberate efforts. Leaders of such companies take a long-term view when making decisions. Such drive and commitment is what can make a strategy sustainable, Strategy can only be sustainable if the organizations leaders are leading it. That said, those leaders need to have one eye on the current efforts and results of their product area, The other eye better be on the future and how changing customer expectations, evolving technologies, competitor behaviors, and governmental regulations may need to shift the objectives of a strategic plan. 
  1. A further issue is to recognize that no strategy is sustainable over the long term. For sure a strategy can be sustainable (for a while). The key is to find a breakthrough strategy. By implication such a strategy creates advantages. These may be sustained by way of developing key sources of competitive advantage. Hence, it needs to seek further breakthrough or additive and complementary opportunities to build on and sustain the existing strategy.  
  1. Ensure there are no gaps between the sum of the divisional strategies and the corporate strategy. Usually, strategy is done either at an organization wide level, or at an SBU level. Or with divisions or regions that have unique or core area and ensure these are aligned to the corporate strategy. Also in planning the strategy execution - someone in the organization would need to ensure alignment between all the strategies. And ensure there are no gaps between the sum of the divisional strategies and the corporate strategy - and that the divisional strategies do not work against one another.  all SBU strategies need to become integral components of holistic business strategy
  1. Strategy for Business Core Competency. There is Core Competency of an organization & this core has several 'core areas' to accelerate growth. Thus this organization would need a Strategy for its Core Competency, as well as it would need several Strategies for each of its several 'core areas'. Above all, it would need variations in Strategy depending on the dynamics of each of these 'core areas'. Depending on the direct relation & co-relation with the Strategy for the Core Competency, all these would be planned accordingly, such as Long term, Medium term & Short term. These ‘core areas” need to well define such as leadership strategy, innovation strategy, talent strategy, data strategy and sustainability strategy., etc.  
  1. The issue is to create a value chain - activity system that commands activities that are different to competing systems and capabilities that are better than competitors, looking at core areas within an organization, look at organizational problems, or symptoms that would require strategy as a solution. The creation of a corporate strategy, or even sub-level strategy, also depends upon where the company is in its life cycle.  In some cases it can takes years or even a decade for a company to build the knowledge, relationships and/or business partnerships that are required in order to successfully implement a long term business plan.  
  1. A corporate strategy that has not been "cascaded" to the business and functional technically cannot be implemented and/or executed. Such strategy is incomplete and not "feasible". If you reflect on it, the organization units are the "capability" centers where work gets done. Most businesses are typically not static, therefore a corporate strategy for most businesses must be dynamic in order to support the ever changing business and its needs (across whatever time period of change required). So part of the corporate strategy's role is coordination of the "cascaded" strategic objectives assigned to the units.  
All of that said, in reality, it should be the goal of a corporate strategy to create and maintain a sustainable business; which is much more important than a sustainable strategy.


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