This is an Eval Central archive copy, find the original at cense.ca.
A great strategy is designed. This means it was planned, implemented, and evaluated in ways that are aligned with the vision of the organization. Poor strategy neglect some or all of this.
We’ve seen many strategies poorly planned, not implemented, never evaluated and misaligned with the values and vision of the organization.
However, because we are dealing with human systems — complex, living systems — a strategy can’t be rigid and inflexible. This means creating the capacity to design, learn, and implement in a flexible, adaptive way.
We approach strategy as a conversation.
This means listening, reflecting, and speaking (projecting) in dialogue with the circumstances your organization finds itself in. Good conversations might have an explicit purpose, but there is an element of emergence that makes them attractive. Great conversations have aspects of curiosity, discovery, and serendipity.
We never know what a conversation will bring, even if we know what kind of information we wish to share. This metaphor and approach are particularly salient now. We are seeing such global transformation, disruption and uncertainty that taking a curious approach to what we see and do is a way to facilitate this adaptation.
What does this mean in practice?
- It means viewing strategy as a process as much as an outcome.
- Build a developmental approach to both design and evaluation.
- Engage in — and set aside time and space for — sensemaking regularly.
- Promise to learn absolutely and execute based on learning, not set plans.
These are simple steps but powerful in their impact. We help organizations do this by creating — by design — space to talk and learn. Make sure you create space to do this and view strategic conversations as something you regularly have, not every 5 years.
We love a good conversation. We also love good coffee, too. They go together well, so if you want to have both, reach out and let’s talk.