Setting Your Organisation on a Trajectory to an Improved Future

Whether you’re a large corporation, not-for-profit organisation, government agency or family-owned business, getting the right approach to strategy and change is important.

It’s important, particularly in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, because the very future of your organisation, and the livelihoods of the people who work in it, are dependent upon how well your strategy is developed and executed.

The Beyond Default approach

Beyond Default offers a different and innovative approach to strategy and change. It’s based upon the belief that all organisations are on a trajectory taking them to their default future. This is the place they will end up if they take no action other than that currently planned.

The essential purpose of strategy is therefore to take your organisation ‘beyond its default’ by setting it on a trajectory to an improved future. And the essential purpose of strategic change is to ensure that this change in trajectory happens and your strategic intent becomes operational reality.

Organisations are on a trajectory for a reason

Understanding the trajectory of your organisation is important. Equally important is understanding the influence of the exogenous and endogenous forces that are determining the trajectory. Exogenous forces originate from outside your organisation and determine the context within which it operates. As they are outside your control you can respond to them, but not change them. As the influence of these forces changes over time, so does the context within which your organisation operates and, potentially, its default future.

Endogenous navigating forces originate from within your organisation and are therefore within your control – to varying degrees. These forces can either anchor your organisation to its current trajectory or ‘pull’ it onto its target trajectory of strategic intent.

Developing successful strategy is therefore about understanding the influence of the exogenous and endogenous forces acting on your organisation. It’s also about making informed choices on which trajectory of strategic intent to pursue. Delivering change is about weakening the endogenous forces anchoring your organisation to its current trajectory and strengthening those that will pull it onto its target trajectory. Setting the conditions that allow people to exercise their judgement and apply their expertise in ways that your turn strategic intent into operational reality is also important.

More about the Beyond Default approach to strategy and change – and the book on which it’s based – can be found on this website. Supporting articles, blogs, webinars and videos are available on the Resources page, and the 20 core ideas behind Beyond Default are on the right.

Our support

We won’t tell you what your strategy should be, nor will we present you with a multi-step approach to developing strategy and delivering change. What we can do is offer you thought leadership and thought partnership on how best to develop the best strategy for your organisation and establish the conditions for successful change. Further information can be found on the Services page.

We invite you to learn more about the Beyond Default approach to strategy and change.

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