In this second episode of my interview with cultural architect, Mykel Dixon, we discuss how strategy-making must exist in ‘layers’ if a business is to effectively adapt and evolve in today’s highly uncertain business environment. We talk about how your strategic perspective can’t be a singular focus on high-level strategic objectives. It needs to include the detailed strategic activity that is required to turn those objectives into reality. Importantly, the high-level, medium-term and detailed strategic perspectives should be connected in an intentional way.

Myke and I explore some of the reasons why we get business strategy wrong and how the need to create the illusion of certainty has turned strategy into a static, analytical affair. As a result, most strategic plans become a manifesto for doing what you’ve always done. Their execution then lacks the dynamic qualities that are required to make strategy the force that drives your business forward.

We begin to touch on how meaningful collaboration – rather than purely effective communication – is the power we’re looking to unlock when we projectify our strategic endeavours. This allows you to leverage the strategic foresight of the business’s management team as well as your people’s detailed understanding of the frontlines of business operations.

In upcoming episodes of this interview series, we’ll start to explore some of the key concepts and cutting-edge research that the book is founded on. We’ll discuss some of the fundamental steps you need to take if you want to make your strategic activities part of your operational fabric. Most importantly, we dig into some of the opportunities to engage your people in strategy-making that allows your business to constantly evolve and adapt to the shifting business landscape.

I hope you’ll follow along as we roll out this discussion and see how projectifying your strategy builds a bridge between the business and your people. A bridge that allows you to adapt at the pace of change and seize the opportunities that change creates.

I also hope you’ll share the thoughts and experiences that come from your strategy-making activities – your challenges, your successes and what you’ve learned in shaping your business for the future.

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with my friend and colleague Mykel Dixon and explore some of the ideas that sit behind my book PROJECTIFY. In this first episode, we riff about why the pace of change isn’t what makes today’s highly dynamic business environment unique – it’s the pervasiveness of that change. We discuss the perils that exist for business leaders that aren’t intentional about responding to this dynamic and how businesses that are in traditionally-entrenched industries might be at the greatest risk.

Over the course of this interview series, we’ll explore some of the key concepts and cutting-edge research that the book is founded on. We discuss some of the fundamental steps you need to take if you want to make your strategic activities part of your operational fabric. Most importantly, we dig into some of the opportunities to engage your people is strategy-making that allows your business to constantly evolve and adapt to the shifting business landscape.

I hope you’ll follow along as we roll out this discussion and see how projectifying your strategy builds a bridge between the business and your people. A bridge that allows you to adapt at the pace of change and seize the opportunities that change creates.

I also hope you’ll share your thoughts and experiences about undertaking strategy in today’s ever-busier, distracted business world.

 

In my last blog post, I discussed the power of meaningful progress as the driving force behind an engaged and intrinsically motivated team. Specifically, I talked about how Harvard Business School’s Teresa Amabile had uncovered the key to making strategic activity sustainable and self-perpetuating. How, what she calls the ‘progress principle’, creates a upward spiral of creativity, engagement and collaboration that can become the engine of a nimble, adaptive business.

This article generated a few questions that all boiled down to: What does it look like?

How do you know when the progress principle is starting to take effect?

Meaningful progress requires intentionality

It’s probably worth a reminder that it’s not just any progress that generates these motivating effects. It’s meaningful progress that engages people and creates the desire to make more progress.

That means you need to be intentional about creating meaning in the strategic work that you ask your people to do. There should be a clear connection between that work and a strategic purpose that’s larger than their specific activity. You should give your teams the autonomy to pursue that purpose in their own way. And you should provide them with the support and enabling framework that maximises their chance for success – that maximises their opportunity to make progress!

How do you create meaning in the strategic work your people do? How do you connect your strategic endeavors to the organisation’s daily operational world? What are you doing to make progress visible? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

The pace of change in today’s business environment is greater than it has ever been. But this has been true for decades – for a long time, the ‘current’ environment has been more dynamic than ever before. What is different in today’s business world is the pervasiveness of that dynamism. That means the rules are changing because waiting to react in that environment puts you perilously behind, in a race that punishes those who can’t maintain the pace. The question now is not ‘How do I keep up?’ but ‘How do I focus on the future so that I am leading from the front, driving change instead of responding to it?’

The answer is strategy – but strategy redefined. Strategy that is imbued with action. Strategy that is adaptive. Strategy that connects your organisation to its realisation.

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With all my talk of change as your most formidable competitor, it’s easy to see disruptive forces and the ever-increasing pace of change as the enemy that your business must defeat. But the real enemy of business evolution is not change, but how ‘now’ cripples your ability to focus on what’s ‘next’.

It’s the multitude of forces, both life forces and our genetic predisposition, that keep us anchored in the present – the immediate and urgent – and prevents us from effectively focusing our thinking and activity on the future.

To become the sort of nimble and adaptive organisation that translates strategic aspirations into operational reality, you must be able to take action today. Action that progressively shapes and moulds the business into the future version of itself. You need to be intentional about defeating the forces that stop you from making ‘next’ a part of your ‘now’. Read more

Let’s face it, strategic planning takes effort. It requires an investment of time, energy and reasonable capital, depending of the depth of market and competitor analysis included in your strategic planning efforts. However, once the retreats are over and the plans are developed and documented that’s when the really hard strategic work begins – the work of executing the strategy.

It’s hard because one of the rarest elements of a strategic plan is a plan for implementing the plan – a strategy for executing the strategy. A structured means of giving your strategy-making forward momentum.

In this Projectify Point, I talk about the need to incorporate a framework into your strategic planning that turns strategic intent into consistent, persistent strategic activity – activity that generates meaningful strategic progress.

When your strategy-making doesn’t engage your people, the business’s most valuable source of knowledge, capability and capacity is not being brought to bear on the important work of shaping your business for a desired future state. And it’s not being tapped to provide the signals that allow the business to understand where the brightest future might lie.

In today’s fast-moving business world, that can be very expensive – or perhaps fatal – for your business.

How are you giving your strategy life? What are you doing to create strategic forward momentum? How are you ensuring that your people are engaged in its realisation? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

As just about every current business book will tell you, the pace of change in today’s business environment is greater than it has ever been. However, this ever-increasing rate of change isn’t unique to the early 21st century. It’s been occurring for several decades. What is unique today is the nature of change – not just the speed of change but also how broadly and deeply change can impact your business.

So, the danger for today’s businesses is that it’s ever-more likely that the pace of change will create a tipping point. A point where, once you’ve fallen behind, it is no longer possible to catch up. That crucial point where if you miss the wave, you can’t paddle fast enough to hop back on.

In the last episode of my Projectify Points vlog, I talked about how change is your most formidable competitor. In this post, I want talk about how the nature of change has shifted to give it a ‘competitive edge’.

How quickly does change enter your market or business?

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In my last Projectify Point, I made the passing comment that, today, your greatest competitor is no longer the businesses that do the same things that you do – it’s ‘change’.  In this episode, I want to dig into that idea a bit and how it relates to your strategy-making.

In today’s environment, it is increasingly likely that your most formidable business challenges – as well as your greatest opportunities – won’t come from your traditional competitors. They’ll come from change – changes to the business landscape in which you operate. It’s your most formidable competition in the sense that change now moves with much greater speed and has the potential to create much more profound shifts than your traditional competitors ever could.

How does this idea of ‘change’ being your greatest competitor sit with you? How might it effect your approach to strategy making? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Confusing Strategic Leadership with Operations Management

If you want strategy-making to help you to be more adaptive and evolve in today’s highly dynamic and uncertain business world…to better connect your people to a shared sense of purpose…then you need to understand what ‘strategy’ actually is. More importantly, what it should be if you are to shape the sort of business you hope to become.

In the first episode of my Projectify Points vlog series, I share my perspective on how the aspirational nature of strategy should make it a perpetual journey into the future – one that has direction but no destination…no end point.

The belief that a business is ‘either growing or dying’[1] has been entrenched in our strategic mindset since the mid-twentieth century. However, in today’s ever-more-dynamic business environment, organisations that are focused on adapting to change are the ones that thrive. These businesses believe that you’re ‘either evolving or risking extinction’.

 

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