Thursday, January 22, 2015

Digital Master Tuning XX: Is Digital Strategy “Anti-Strategy”?

Digital doesn't "de-strategize," but uncover the dynamic nature of strategy via iterative continuum.

In many contexts, the word strategy is demotivating. Some organizations have strategy meetings days and weeks only to go around in circles. The traditional strategy is more like a “shelf-ware” - the document put on the shelf, instead of the shared guide to compass the business transformation journey. What are the essential elements and unique styles of digital strategy to groom a Digital Master? And how to rejuvenate the fresh strategic thinking and crafting, is digital strategy “anti-strategy”?

The digital lens is circular and holistic. The word 'strategy' in the “industrial” lens forces organizations into silo thinking along with traditional ways of static strategy making -this can lead to demotivation of stakeholders who are tired of new strategies. What about a different approach based on connecting people to think about future direction? The digital future and the new generation of managers coming through will look at things differently.

Because the speed of change is accelerating, the borders of functions are blurring and the business ecosystem is hyper-connected. It means that businesses should start to take a long hard look at the traditional way of strategic thinking to see if there are better ways of supporting the direction of companies in the future, The ability to deliver on the direction is critical to get future buy-in. Some dodgy decisions are the results of a lack of clear strategy or failure to effectively communicate and engage the strategy with the operational decision-making level. In many cases, corporate strategy is published but not actually owned or executed by management.

The traditional strategy is the view via narrow “frame,” but the digital strategy view is broader to oversee the business ecosystem. There are also situations where the decision context, for whatever reason, forces the decision-maker to look at the situation through a relatively narrow 'frame.' This means that relevant information is not even recognized, let alone considered in the decision process. This could be due to divisional/organizational habits or culture, or it could be due to some specific stressors in a specific situation. This highlights the need of breakdown the silos, challenges those non-critical thinking patterns, and master the strategic thinking via both complexity thinking and simplicity thinking; system thinking and reflective thinking; multi-dimensional thinking, and ecosystem thinking.

The traditional strategy communication is "one-way street," digital strategy communication is multi-channel engagement. It is critical to communicating, communicating, and communicating the strategy in order to have people well informed about the strategy (and of course that the strategy is clear and understandable). The traditional strategy communication is mainly a top-down one-way street. But the digital strategy can easily have two-way communication, both top-down and bottom-up, via an effective social platform. You need a great communication platform and make the strategy understandable. The only way you make the strategy understandable for the whole organization is to start with WHY because the strategy implementation and change management often go hands in hands. Engaging employees in giving feedback, even participating in strategy making would create synergy for strategy execution.

The traditional strategy-execution is a set of linear steps, but a digital strategy- execution is an iterative continuum. Not only do you need to implement "WHAT" and "HOW" via cross-functional collaboration and iterative implementation, but also you need to measure the "HOWS" more skillfully in order to accelerate the execution of the strategy!

A) The strategy does also include “HOW” and KPIs that are understandable for the individual that is going to change and improve

B) The Wildly Important Goals (WIG´s) are identified and prioritized.

C) Execute strategy in an agile way: 
The Execution starts with a Kick-Off and workshops, top-down, different WIG teams, motivating videos, but all strategy execution improvement work is done integrated with the daily operational work. The individual that was not able to be successful before is now trained in “steps” needed for behavior change and improved WIG’s. This keeps the team highly motivated and accountable for the execution of the strategy!

D) KPI’s and Measurement is done also on iterative “Steps” and Behaviour Change, connected to overlaying financial WIGs. Able to prove faster- KPI’s and measurements are done weekly on 
all levels, not just on the high strategic level. The digital strategy doesn’t mean anti-strategy but means the strategy has to be more dynamic to adapt to the emergent trends and changes, and the strategy lenses need to be broader and circular to see beyond current or surface, not only look through the future but co-create the future. Digital doesn't make strategy useless, but on the opposite, the strategy is more critical for a business’s long-term prosperity if making it right and implement it effectively.


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