I came across a blog discussion yesterday on the question "is strategy dead?" The consensus is that strategy is not dead, but strategy itself may need to be revitalized and more agile in the future. Have you reviewed your company's strategy and goals for 2010? I'm sure you updated them in mid-late 2009, but as the end of the first quarter approaches, it is a good time to review your strategy. However, many of you may not have stopped to concentrate on strategy at all, feeling, as the the blog discusses, that strategy is no longer relevant. The link to the blog and my comments about the rewards of a strong, well communicated strategy are below:
It is amazing to me that we keep re-visiting the question of "is strategy dead," or "is strategy important," when the data so overwhelmingly proves that it is not only necessary, but necessary to survive. Consider the "4+2=Sustained Business Success" study from Nohria, Joyce & Roberson at Harvard. Of the 160 companies studied over a ten year period, those that succeeded all excelled at strategy and execution. Yet we continue to question the importance of strategy, possibly because strategy creation is difficult and not well understood. I've asked over 300 executives and staff members to list 2 or 3 of their company's current strategies and their answers typically reflect that they either don't have a well-defined strategy at the moment, or they don't understand how to create one. The lack of sound strategies is reflected in disappointing corporate performance, monetary waste from lack of management, increasing unemployment and integrity problems we are encountering in the marketplace.
Making a few changes - set strategy and review it often, understand innovation, define how it will be used in your organization and commit to it, align and monitor your technology investments to support strategy and innovation - can improve profitability and result in building sustainable advantage. However, the key ingredient is to put your brightest and best people on the front-line to carry out your strategy and watch for ideas and opportunities for innovation as well as changes in market conditions. Military leaders do this very well as expressed by some of the other responses. It's important to keep key staff members educated about the company, motivated and empowered. Provide the resources to create talented teams, create a sense of urgency and reward accomplishments.
The U.S. is blessed with the academic knowledge of how to set and carry out a great strategy, quality people who are able and ready to carry out challenging, dynamic initiatives, if given the opportunity, and maybe a little more time to make it happen. The real questions are whether we will recognize the deficiencies in strategy, change them, get serious about committing to, and measuring, innovation and technology investments and hire and pay talented people to make it happen. The companies that respond and answer those questions with positive actions will certainly be innovative and have a strategic advantage globally.