Many managers talk about the importance of developing an effective competitive strategy. But what are the bases of an effective competitive strategy?
Everybody knows how to do a SWOT analysis.The trouble is SWOT analyses get routine.Time then for BWOT Analysis.
Ritualizing strategic thinking: the effectiveness of the strategic away day
We know that developing a strategy is a major management challenge. In our experience central to a sound strategy is the identification of the key strategic issues fundamental to the future well-being of the organisation. Without that clarity, it is not possible to make sensible strategic choices or communicate the need for the strategy to key stakeholders.
However, too often managers drive the identification of those issues on the basis of the key issues of the past or the circumstances they are currently facing. Or they get superficial agreement on “key issues”, but are left with a nagging feeling that tough issues have been smoothed over; or that, after a whole lot of work, the analysis is not much different from last year’s.
The identification of the strategic issues means that you need to be prepared to question and challenge, not only what is taken for granted in your organization; but also what you, yourself, may take for granted. We know it can help to have an outsider prompting that questioning and challenging. Not only can we introduce you to concepts and frameworks that help raise such questions, but we can bring to bear our experience of the research on strategy and strategic decisions that now exists and to which we have contributed.
We can also introduce you to the strategy tools that can really help you and help you and your team use them to inform your management judgement. And again we can bring our research as well as our experience to provide guidance on which of these tools is most appropriate for your needs.
We know from our own experience, but also from our research that strategy workshops are very common and seen as a useful way in which senior executives can take time out to think through and question the strategy of their organisation. We also know, however, that the outcomes of these events can be highly variable. You may have experienced this yourself: a lot of energy and a lot of insight within the workshop itself, but difficulties in translating that back into real benefits in the workplace.
We know that such events are also costly, not least in terms of management time.
So what is the best way to organise a strategy workshop; and how is it possible to try and ensure that the benefits from such events do actually translate into benefits in the everyday world?
We have facilitated many such workshops. We know the benefits of taking this time out; we know the benefits of using targeted strategy concepts and tools to tackle some of the difficult questions that organisations face. But we also know from our own experience and research that it is a challenge to make these relevant: to ensure meaningful output. So getting the balance right between “getting away from it all” and making it relevant back home is important. So too is identifying which tools and concepts it makes sense to employ, the role they can play and how they can be used, not as a replacement for, but to enhance management judgement and experience. The structure of a workshop itself also matters, as does whether it’s a one-off event or part of a series of events.
So, if you are thinking about how a strategy workshop or away day might contribute to strategy development in your organisation, why not get in touch to discuss the idea?