Dr Quy Huy, professor of Strategy at INSEAD, tells us that strategy is 5% thinking and 95% implementation. Strategy implementation is 5% technical and 95% people related. In truth strategy formulation and strategy implementation are intrinsically linked. Over a period of 10 years – around 65% of companies fail. This failure rate is more pronounced with startups but in living history we have seen giants such as Silicon Valley Bank, Credit Suisse, Compaq, Kodak and Blockbuster fail. There is a myriad of reasons for this including failure to keep pace with change, poor management and poor strategic decision making, but well led companies, that understand the human dynamic, think strategically and deal successfully with change, thrive. Of course, there is also the element of luck, being in the right place as the right time, but even luck requires skillful management.
Strategy in motion is the art of creating a strategy built on a realistic comprehension of reality (something that is much rarer than most of us think). Reality includes, the external environment, change in the multitude of aspects that affect any company and industry. Reality is also the skills and competence of those running and working in the organisation, their access to capital and their capacity to master change as it happens. All this requires advanced levels of creative problem solving, systemic thinking and change mastery. These attributes in turn rest on advanced levels of adult brain development and the ability to bring people along with you.
By involving those who are to implement strategy in the formulation of that strategy is good sense. Using reality, as it changes, as a tool for developing adult brain capacity is also good sense. As we grow a company, we too must grow up. I know there are examples of highly successful entrepreneurs who seem quite puerile but there will always be those who were smart enough to invent a system, product or process that simply hits the right spot at the right time. Riding the wave of today’s change helps, keeping a company going and growing is harder. Changing a company to stay relevant is harder still.
“It’s not the strongest of the species that survive. It’s the most responsive.”
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