Strategy should be operationalised not implemented

In this short video David Trafford and Peter Boggis discuss different approaches to executing strategy. Their view is that in the majority of cases strategy is implemented. This is when the organisation is pushed onto its target trajectory through the execution of a series of pre-planned tasks. This push approach assumes that organisations are deterministic and programmable, but we all know that they are not. Organisations are dynamic systems that can behave unpredictably – and respond in unforeseen ways – when attempts are made to change them. While the push approach is okay when executing some parts of a strategy, for example closing a manufacturing plant or replacing an IT system, evidence indicates that it does not always deliver the level of success needed.

An alternative approach is to operationalise strategy. With this approach a context is created that allows people to exercise their judgement and apply their expertise in ways that pull the organisation onto its target trajectory. Importantly this pull approach assumes that organisations are dynamic systems driven by intelligent people. David and Peter argue that the pull approach is better suited to situations where the desired outcomes are more transformational and difficult to define with certainty at the outset. The challenge with operationalising strategy is embedding the approach in the organisation in ways that lead to intellectual, emotional and physical engagement.

In the video they give an example of a German insurance company that operationalised, rather than implemented, its strategy.

Watch David and Peter’s video.

For further information see:
Operationalising Strategy – Turning Strategic Intent into Operational Reality

Watch the next video in the series, where David and Peter discuss how it all starts with Collective Leadership.