Not Even Wrong – The State of Strategy 1

December 2014
Kristianstad @ the in-laws

“…In fact, when asked what it takes to secure a prosperous future, more than 80 percent of executives consider agility as important or more important than strategy when it comes to securing a prosperous future”. – The A.T. Kearny 2014 State of Strategy Study

Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 10.37.48On this beautiful crisp christmas day morning I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee. The comforting sound of people scurrying about in the kitchen created a most relaxing ambiance as I went through the steps of my morning routine – browsing my digital channels for news. As I scanned the flows I stumbled upon the A.T. Kearney’s 2014 Strategy Study. There was one slide in particular that caught my eye. Now, I have no idea wether or not the A.T. Kearny people did a solid job in their research, and instead of finding out I thought I’d just roll with it. Because I can.

And why not? It’s christmas day, after all. So I have no qualms about giving myself the gift of confirmation bias. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. For some folks I know it’s a year-around thing. But never mind that now.

In the before mentioned slide we find that about 2000 global executives have given input towards understanding why strategy fails. Here’s what they came up with:

Strategy formulation problems:

  • Not understanding future trends
  • Not understanding internal capabilities
  • Too much top down

Strategy deployment failure:

  • Lack of internal understanding of strategy
  • Lack of internal capability to execute strategy
  • Lack of ownership

No surprises there. But it’s always fun when the big boys come to similar conclusions as myself, even if we cannot disregard elements of retrospective coherence in the A.T. Kearny results. But it’s also interesting that all of the problems mentioned can be interpreted as failures of old school organizational- and management models. The “too much top down” realization, for instance, might very well be the root cause of many – if not all – of the other issues mentioned.

Another core question is of course what we mean when we say that “strategy failed”, which leads us into the debate about emergent strategy – or “intended strategy” versus “realized strategy”. We will get back to that further on.

The quote at the top of the page, where the executives state that “agility” is more important than “strategy” relates directly to my writings about organizational wide agility – from signal to cash. It’s interesting to see that these realizations are slowly starting to sink in.

You can find some of my thoughts on these challenges if you follow the links below.

Earlier post on Not even Wrong

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