In our book ‘Strategisation – The Art of Mobilising people to implement a winning strategy ‘, I reference the author and academic Richard Rumelt several times, as he is somewhat of a guru in my eyes when it comes to most things strategy related.
I just read the article ‘Why Bad Strategy is a Social Contagion’, which is a partial transcript from a podcast featuring Rumelt and McKinsey senior partner Yuval Atsmon; there were several points Rumelt makes that particularly resonated with me:
- Business leaders often misunderstand the actual meaning of strategy. Strategy is problem-solving. It is how you overcome the obstacles that stand between where you are and what you want to achieve.’
- Bad strategy is almost a literary form that uses PowerPoint slides to say, ‘Here is how we will look as a company in three years.’ That’s interesting, but it’s not a strategy.’
When it comes to getting the entire organisation involved in strategy development and execution, Rumelt says, ‘there are two types of errors made. One is where you don’t involve the front lines, and the other is where the front lines don’t understand the strategy ‘.
This point aligns with one of my key philosophies: to implement your strategy effectively, you MUST mobilise a critical mass of people within your organisation. I call this critical mass of people your ‘strategic population’, who should be involved in the development process as early as possible.
A strategic population is a group that can block the change required to implement the strategy if not engaged and mobilised; they are critical to breaking the current paradigm and allowing the change to happen. These are the people who will have a high impact on the success of your strategy. This population can be at any level and across any function in the organisation. The strategic population will change over time as you move from the status quo ‘as-is ‘ to the desired future state ‘to-be ‘.
Involve a broadly representative group from the strategic population in developing the strategy and its implementation: this is a crucial step in mobilising your troops. Consider this as mobilising your army for change.
These people can be instrumental in breaking paradigms while influencing others within the business. Assemble your platoon from across all levels of the organisation. Don’t just think about senior people or mid-level managers. Think right across the organisation. You may also need to include external parties such as suppliers, agencies, or distributors. Who can influence behaviours and thinking in a positive way across the organisation? Identify them and get them on board, pronto!