Setting Your Organisation on a Trajectory to an Improved Future

Welcome to Beyond Default

If you are looking for a different approach to developing strategy and delivering transformational change you’ve come to the right place. In his Foreword to our book, Don Tapscott says that ‘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’.

If you’re an independently-minded leader of a company, business function or transformation programme, who is prepared to challenge the norms and do what is needed – rather than go with the flow – then you will find the Beyond Default approach refreshing.

If you think that the world is changing at an ever-increasing pace and that traditional approaches to developing strategy and transformational change no longer work in today’s increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, we can help you respond to this challenge.

If your colleagues don’t share your sense of urgency and continue to act as though everything will be okay and the future will simply be ‘more of the same’, we can help you confront your organisation’s default future and take action to put it on a trajectory to an improved future.

If people in your organisation say “we don’t have a strategy”, we can help you develop one or communicate the one you have in a more meaningful way. If they say “we have multiple strategies that are in conflict”, we can help you get alignment. Equally, if you’re unsure whether the transformation programme aimed at executing your strategy will be successful, we can assess whether the conditions for success are in place.

If your leadership team is not aligned and its behaviour is sending conflicting messages to the organisation, we can help you resolve this through our collective leadership experiential learning journeys.

If you’re looking for a thought-provoking keynote presentation at your Board strategy day, leadership retreat, team offsite or company conference we can do that – once COVID-19 restrictions have been eased!

If you’d simply like to know more about the Beyond Default approach to developing strategy and delivering transformational change, take a look at the articles, blogs, podcasts and videos. Equally, if you’d like to know more about our book Beyond Default why not read the Introduction and watch Don Tapscott’s Foreword. And if you’d like to receive our quarterly bulletin, sign up now.

For more than 25 years my colleagues and I have helped many leaders confront the default future of their team, business function, organisation or community. We did this in a way that best suited them and the challenges they faced. Whether that was through our strategy development, strategy execution, coaching or leadership development services our focus throughout was always on helping them put their organisation on a trajectory to an improved future.

Finally, if you feel that your chances of success would be greater with outside help, but you don’t want to use one of the big firms or traditional strategy or change consultancies, get in touch we’d love to explore how we can assist.

Dr David Trafford
Co-author, Beyond Default
Managing Director, Formicio

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