Wednesday, July 21, 2021


A coherent company has a deliberately close alignment among the company’s strategic direction, its most distinctive capabilities, and most or all of its products and services, to execute capability-based strategy.

Complexity, uncertainty, disruptive changes, and interdependence in the ambiguous, hyperconnected and globally distributed world are the new normal. We are at the intersection of the silo-based industrial age and the information-led digital era. In practice, most managers spend very little time addressing crumbling paradigms or basically would not know where to start for addressing crumbling paradigms. 

Interdisciplinary business insight should lead business leaders and professionals not only to understanding, but also predicting and preparing, dealing with thorny situations, treading tough water, handling paradoxical issues, and leading the organization toward the uncertain future more confidently. In order to become more open and responsive, organizational strategy management needs to be dynamic, iterative, and multidimensional. Strategies need to be first and foremost long-term, descriptive, but prescriptive as well.

Strategies emerge through network interaction: Increasing global connectivity, uncertainty, chaos and ever-rising customer & employee expectations makes the strategy planning a scenario of cross-boundary communication and network interaction; it needs to become the shareware which continues evolving rather than shelfware that becomes outdated sooner than you thought about. In the traditional companies, often strategy designers drive the design to a too low level of detail before the stake-holding business units or functional organizations have had an opportunity to help shape it. That causes significant gaps between planning and implementation. The astute strategist learns how to leverage the network by developing approaches for shepherding, strategy management through a process of influence, capitalizing on temporary power coalitions and data-driven solutions.

Nowadays strategy is a continuous adjustment to the situation - the design elements as well as the implementation tactics need to be adapted along the road. It's much better for the designers to initially offer a high-level design sketch, review the key features with the stakeholders, and ask each to come back with their own sub-strategy supporting the overall strategy. In practice, engage key stakeholders early, and give them the opportunity to help shape the strategy. It obviates the introduction of many problems that would be encountered downline, when the cost of fixes are much higher and genuine buy-in is much harder to come by. Technically, it is harder for large organizations to engage geographically dispersed key stakeholders than it is for smaller, more localized organizations. The position of the fulcrum determines which design or implementation has more leverage! And the position of the fulcrum has to be determined by the leaders and adjusted continuously.

Strategy will remain an "artistic science," as there is no design blueprint nor exact implementation rules: Strategy is about projecting and balancing variables on the business continuum to achieve the goals further away in the distance. Very often the design elements are initially formulated based on elements such as assumptions, and knowledge, skills available at that time, and within a certain "frame of mind." Thus, there are things you can manage, but there are emerging events or trends you cannot control. Thus, strategy is indeed an art as it is a science - as such, the color that gut feelings bring helps you define what the destination can look like.

The question about strategy design and implementation is very much like the old question about nurture vs nature. Culture very often shapes the assumptions and frame of mind. Is strategy more art or science? The answer depends on the context. You could visualize a lever having an implementation at one end and design at the opposite end, with the position of the fulcrum remaining undetermined. A masterful strategist is skeptical about the conventional understanding of strategic issues so that they examine everything before accepting it for the real truth or advising it to others. They are able to enforce "Intuition + Evidence-Based" design by thinking multidimensionally to see things differently, capturing well-blended insight and foresight to make strategic decisions fluently.

Top business executives as astute strategists to enhance capability-based strategy management: To strengthen the enablers of the strategy, enhance links to business strategy alignment, scenario planning, program and project life cycle management, requirements management, risk management, resource management, etc. The dynamic capability will further build the organization’s strengths in core areas and differentiated competency. Business management needs to provide coherence between actual capability and the strategic objectives that have been defined, and addresses in outline how the strategic objectives will be achieved, which includes exploring your center of gravity or bridge capability and culture gaps. They would verify their intention and business capacity at the crucial step of the strategy management scenario by pondering: What people-centric businesses have the most grips on its processes so they deliver what they promise? Are businesses competing for best quality, cost advantage or efficient value chain? Can the processes do what they promise? Further, what enables a process? People, technology, etc. and how it behaves in situations determines differentiation

At the center of strategy management, it's about people. Business executives are skilled in the areas of motivation, reward, and career advancement. Without these three keystone components, companies will have a turnover above the norm in the highly aggressive open-positions-market. The astute strategists need to develop a broad skill set - the business acumen to develop strategy and do in-depth analysis, the business architecture grounding, a solid understanding of the application of technology in general, the management ability to centralize resources and applications and coordinate business-unit resources and initiatives; the interdisciplinary practices of innovation/change/talent management, etc.

Generally speaking, the degree of planning has a positive correlation with the degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. To make smooth implementation, the strategic planning needs to get to the level of specifically achievable goals. A coherent company has a deliberately close alignment among the company’s strategic direction, its most distinctive capabilities, and most or all of its products and services, to execute capability-based strategy.


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