Any seasoned strategist knows once a plan is put into action, things are going to come up. Whether it’s politically, personally or in business, strategy is only perfect until it’s lifted off paper and given life.
One of the most intriguing things about strategy is the uncertainty it has coupled with the sheer exhilaration of pulling it off effectively – regardless of the unanticipated twists and turns it might take.
For it is in the imperfections we learn, grow and realize how to do things better next time. Put five different teams in charge of executing the same strategy and while the steps to completion and the outcome may be the same, the way those steps are taken and the attitudes towards them will be as different as the people who achieved or didn’t achieve the results.
Each team will learn different lessons and if they employ the same strategy again, will adjust it according to their findings. This constant evolution is what makes business successful and what makes good management so vital to the strategic process.
But while our technology and processes have become quicker and more sophisticated, our patience, instead of advancing with the technology, has regressed and become shorter and less manageable. We expect quicker results, in half the time and we expect instant success.
We know that’s not how strategy works. Today’s strategy is a strategy of numbers. It’s a strategy of words. It’s a strategy of whit, action and adaptability. Without the convergence of these areas along with support from an informed management, strategies become no more relevant than a cassette tape of Debbie Gibson. And rushing results is not only a sign of impatience, it is a sign of management immaturity and business density.
A strategist’s work is never done. We don’t get to hand off a strategy and sit by and watch it be executed. We have to constantly evaluate and manipulate (yes, manipulate) the work being done to formulate it into what will achieve the desired business goals. A strategist, while being a team motivator and leader, also has to be an independent task master who has the authority and know-how to get done what needs to be done without management red tape.
If you speak to a group of strategists, their most common complaint will be their management’s desire to have them involved in the planning of business goals but the same management constantly prohibits the strategist’s ability to see the full picture or gives enough time to see a strategy through.
This is the convergence of the worlds of strategy and real business and for some reason, they still don’t understand each other. The wise businessman knows a great strategy will render business results worth the wait – while the easy win will look great on paper now, but won’t give long-term results.
It seems silly in this world of Big Data, Cloud Computing and other once far-fetched ideas (like people calling the internet a ‘fad’) still can’t understand the value of strategic thinking or a well-laid plan.
Maybe it boils down, once more, to the analytical, methodical mind not understanding the creative. There are probably hundreds of therapy books out there and corporations could spend millions in trying to understand it but the bottom line is simple … have some patience!
A baker knows he has to put the cake in an oven for a certain amount of time for it to be perfect. Too early, it’s warm batter. Too long, it’s a burned brick unfit for the pet’s bowl. So how do we teach our C-Levels the importance of giving a strategist the space, time and authority needed to actually get the job done?
We could sit them all down with their mothers and ask them once more to teach their kids the importance of patience or we can start being vocal.
It’s becoming a tired old tune – hearing strategists talking about how their management won’t give them the time or resources needed to get a job done. It’s so easy to blame management but at some point we have to visibly be able to show what would or could happen if we’re allowed to execute our strategic plans properly.
If you’re working with a management who only is able to deal in tangibles based on their experience or their own personal roadblocks, figure out a way to show them desired results if you are allowed what you need to fully execute your strategy. Put real examples together and make your strategy come to life in a way those over you can understand and appreciate.
Show your management you are not only a person of vision and business forethought, but are also able to adapt to situational roadblocks – even if those roadblocks won’t ever admit they’re the issue.
It’s time strategists start using some of their own smarts to make things happen in their careers and in their own organizations. These qualities are not only good strategy – but they have management written all over them – and we need more digital strategists in corporate leadership.