When we think about strategy we tend to think about high-level plans. We have become accustomed to it. Simple explanations, some simple graphs, a clear and again simple narrative. All fits, all makes sense, all flows well, all seems reasonable and plausible. Nothing contradicts seriously what we believe. Risk seems understood and under control.
This is how we have become accustomed to consume strategy. To the point that we tend to thing this “is” strategy. Or worse, we may be tempted to think that something called strategy actually exists as a truth of itself.
Strategy is a term. We use it to describe how and why something works. We can make a high-level description or low level one that pays attention to the details. We tend to associate the idea of strategy to the former and say the latter are implementation details as if both could be happily decoupled.
If I ask you how a car works you can probably describe that with more or less detail. Now I take a real case, your car, and I take one screw. Was that screw part of your strategy description? Probably not. Will you drive that car? Probably not, without knowing which screw I took out.
Well, it seems that, that screw may be strategic after all 😉
I see strategies being created in enterprises with the same lack of intellectual rigor. They reflect common thinking among management and employees. They address the problems everyone talks about. They look reasonable and even well structured. But to me and others they seem too void, too gratuitous. Where’s the connection to reality? Where are the data? How does the strategy connect to what employees can actually do? How the amount of effort is measured and deemed adequate etc
Logical rigor is not that hard. Distrust strategies that do not follow a logical sequence of questions to reach their conclusions. Data are harder to get, but very doable with today’s technology. Distrust strategies that do not use data to answer questions that spring up in the logical analysis. Distrust strategies that do not include consistent interviews with employees, partners or customers. Distrust strategies that do not pose questions and try to answer them systematically. Distrust strategies that have not delved enough with the details as they have with the big aspects.
Lies live more comfortably in the big ideas than in the small details.