Core ideas behind the Beyond Default approach to developing strategy and delivering change

Beyond Default offers a different and innovative approach to developing strategy and delivering change. The approach is based upon a set of core ideas that collectively present a point of view on this important topic. These 20 core ideas are:

  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 these forces change over time, they change the context within which an organisation operates and, potentially, its default future.
  7. Endogenous 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, it 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.

Hopefully you will have found these ideas interesting, but they can only be of value when they are applied and turned into reality.

I welcome your thoughts.

David Trafford