People often ask me: what is the most important aspect of strategy that a CEO should focus on? The answer is more complex than a single aspect.
People often ask me: what is the most important aspect of strategy that a CEO should focus on? The answer is more complex than a single aspect. My team and I see strategy in a systematic context with a constant set of tensions that leaders can use to drive to outcomes. We have recently taken to visualizing this context, as we believe in the old truism a picture is worth a thousand words.
Note that at the center of the diagram is intention—if boards and leaders do not bring intention to every part of their strategy, it will fail. Clear purpose and intention provide leaders and employees alike with a rallying point, but this is not enough by itself. Leaders have to clarify their vision to define goals, set targets, and measure success (see #1). Then (#2), they must allow time and reflection to surface ideas that will move the mission forward, and they must work to align stakeholders around these ideas. And (#3) you have to be prepared to adapt as you learn or as situations change, even as you first implement new ideas.
Notice around the diagram that we have linked strategy to values, behaviors, and culture. Even if you accomplish the tasks of the inner circle well, your strategy will fail if it is not supported by values and behaviors that drive toward results and create a positive culture. We speak often of the intersection of strategy and culture, and we designed this diagram specifically to help our clients visualize what we mean: culture and strategy are intertwined, creating a complex, ongoing tension. As intention spreads energy throughout an organization, this tension allows stakeholders to become greater than the sum of their parts.
This diagram may look simple, but clients have told us they can easily see their organizations within it, moving from one step to the next. Sometimes our clients move in order and sometimes they don’t. Strategy work is cyclical; as new ideas present themselves, new support processes for implementation become necessary.
Authored by Daniel Forrester, THRUUE Founder and CEO