Operating principles make strategic intent meaningful

In this short video David Trafford and Peter Boggis discuss the need to make strategic intent more meaningful to others. While strategies may be understood by those who developed them, they are often perceived as being too complicated, too detailed or too vague to the people expected to implement them. They often lack meaningful definitions of how things should operate in the future, and what challenges need to be managed. Only with this understanding can people reasonably be expected to translate strategic intent into operational reality.

One of the most effective ways of making strategic intent meaningful to others is to define it through a set of explicit operating principles. An operating principle is a ‘conscious choice’ between two equally valid alternatives. In the video David and Peter give a couple of examples, including ‘we provide our customers with an omni-channel experience’ as opposed to ‘our buying channels are independent of one another’. Note that the example also includes the alternative operating principle – the opposed to. This is the one that the strategy has rejected.

Articulating strategic intent through a set of operating principles is necessary, but it is not sufficient. It’s also important to understand the implications of the chosen operating principle. Only by understanding and managing these implications will the principle become operational.

Furthermore, an organisation’s current (default) operating principles – which may not be explicitly defined – can be a powerful force anchoring it to its current trajectory.

Watch David and Peter’s video.

For further information see:
How Operating Principles Can Make Strategy Meaningful

Watch the next video in the series, where David and Peter discuss different approaches to executing strategy.