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Ritualizing strategic thinking: the effectiveness of the strategic away day
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Building Commitment to your Strategy

We all know there are some significant challenges in the process of strategy development.

It’s about trying to envisage and address the key issues that are fundamental to the future well-being of the organisation.  It is therefore fundamentally to do with uncertainty –not certainty.  That’s not comfortable for any managers.

It’s also about asking the difficult questions.  So questioning and challenging is central to the process. Again, not straightforward given that we know that strategies typically develop on the basis of organisations’ past histories and taken for granted assumptions. 

It is also important to carry different stakeholders along with the process and build commitment to a strategy. Without commitment building, the danger is that the process ends up with

  • Little more than either a continuation of the past
  • A wish list (and no more) for the future
  • A document that no one really owns and no one uses

Our approach is that strategy development is an opportunity to build commitment to a strategy.  It is not a matter of developing a strategy and then “selling it”.  Rather the process of strategy development itself can build the commitment.

So we argue that there are three key requirements. Strategy development should be:

  • Involving of different stakeholders; not only those who obviously should have an input such as the top management team; but also those who could impede strategy development; and also those who need to make it happen.  In this involving process we can act as facilitators.
  • But is also needs to be questioning and challenging.  Here we can bring concepts and frameworks that help raise such questions and apply them to your organisations as informed outsiders. 
  • In this our role is not to bring right answers or even right ways of doing things.  It is to explore with you what are the appropriate ways of doing things to help develop the strategy and the appropriate questions and challenges that need to be asked. 

So, for us strategy development processes are about exploration that builds commitment. 

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