Setting Your Organisation on a Trajectory to an Improved Future

Welcome to the Beyond Default approach to strategy and change

Beyond Default is a different and innovative approach to developing strategy and delivering strategic change. It’s based upon the belief that the essential purpose of strategy is to change the trajectory of an organisation, from one taking it to its ‘default future’ to one that takes it to an improved future. The default future of your organisation is the place it will end up if no action is taken, other than that currently planned.

While it is important to understand what the default future of your organisation might be, it’s critical to understand the changing context within which your organisation operates: a context that is defined by the influence of ever-changing exogenous forces. Equally important is understanding the influence of the endogenous forces that are anchoring your organisation to its current trajectory. Only when the influence of these forces is understood can strategic opportunities be properly explored and an informed choice made on the future strategic intent.

From strategy development to strategy execution

Developing a compelling strategy is important but it is of no value if it is poorly executed. So how can the chances of successfully executing strategy be improved? The simple answer is to ‘operationalise’ the strategy rather than ‘implement’ it. Operationalising strategy involves creating a context that enables colleagues across the organisation to use their experience and expertise to ‘pull’ the organisation on to its trajectory of strategic intent. It’s an approach that engages people intellectually, emotionally and physically.

Strategy is important

As Don Tapscott says in the Foreword to Beyond Default “This is not a time for tinkering. Strategy is coming to the fore once again, and Beyond Default provides the tools to take strategy to the next level”.

How we can help

We can help you through all stages of developing and executing a strategy that’s right for your organisation. We won’t presume to know enough about your organisation or your industry to tell you what your strategy should be, but we can provide impartial advice, challenge and support.

Equally, we can provide thought-provoking input to your Board strategy day, leadership retreat, team offsite or company conference. We can also undertake an independent assessment of your current strategy or change initiatives. Further information can be found on the Services page.

We invite you to explore our website, learn more about the book that describes the Beyond Default approach, read some of our articles and blogs, watch the short videos and discover how we can help you take your organisation beyond its default.

We look forward to hearing from you.

20 core ideas behind
Beyond Default

  • 1. The context within which an organisation operates is often more powerful than the strategies and resources that its leaders deploy to change it.
  • 2. All organisations have a default future – it’s the place they will end up if they take no action, other than that currently planned.

  • 3. The purpose of strategy is to take an organisation beyond its default future by setting it on a trajectory to an improved future.

  • 4. An improved future is context-specific and depends upon whether an organisation is a private or publicly-quoted company, a not-for-profit organisation or government agency, an established business or one that is relatively young. 

  • 5. An organisation’s default future is determined by a set of exogenous and endogenous forces that determine its current trajectory.

  • 6. Exogenous forces originate from outside the organisation and determine the context within which it operates. As exogenous navigating forces change over time, they change the context within which an organisation operates and, potentially, its default future.

  • 7. Endogenous navigating forces originate from within the organisation and also determine its current trajectory. They can either anchor an organisation to its current trajectory or ‘pull’ it onto its target trajectory (of strategic intent). 

  • 8. Only by understanding the influence of the exogenous and endogenous forces can leaders make informed choices on the actions needed to put their organisation on a trajectory to an improved future.

  • 9. Organisational capabilities are a class of endogenous navigating force that determine how an organisation operates and behaves. They are different from the skills and competencies of individuals, and are formed from shared mental models, common language, mindsets, beliefs, practices and shared experiences that have developed over time. 

  • 10. An organisation’s trajectory of strategic opportunity is an envelope of opportunities that is determined by the influence of its exogenous forces. It can expand and improve over time, or equally it can narrow and deteriorate over time.

  • 11. An organisation’s trajectory of strategic opportunity can be explored and understood through the development of scenario futures. In the words of William Ford Gibson “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”.

  • 12. The trajectory of strategic intent is the chosen trajectory within the trajectory of strategic opportunity.

  • 13. A trajectory of strategic intent is only strategic if, once executed, is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse or undo – the rest is planning that can be changed, albeit at a cost.

  • 14. An organisation creates value along a set of strategic axes. Where an organisation currently positions itself along each of these axes defines its current strategic signature. Where it intends to position itself along these axes defines its target strategic signature.

  • 15. How an organisation needs to operate in order to realise its strategic intent can be defined through a set of operating principles.

  • 16. Strategy execution is where strategic intent is turned into operational reality.

  • 17. Implementing strategic intent is where the organisation is ‘pushed’ onto its trajectory of strategic intent through the execution of a pre-defined plan.

  • 18. Operationalising strategic intent is where the organisation is ‘pulled’ onto its trajectory of strategic intent by people exercising judgement and applying their expertise in ways that lead to their intellectual, emotional and physical engagement.

  • 19. Strategy execution (either by implementing or operationalising) requires a set of conditions for success to be put in place. These conditions need to be periodically assessed and continually maintained.

  • 20. Without collective leadership there will be no collective strategy, and without collective strategy an organisation has very little chance of successfully changing its trajectory to one that leads to an improved future.

“Many business books claim to change the reader’s perspective and offer a new way of looking at strategic management. However, few live up to their claim. Beyond Default offers a wonderful and welcome exception.”Freek Vermeulen, Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship London Business School