I recently posted that the creation of strategy was better served by being flexible and agile than creating concrete plans. Rob Millard probably said it better:
NOT on a soviet-style grand plan, but about creating the resilience that the firm needs to achieve its objectives no matter what the market may choose to throw at it. ((Millard, Rob, August 5, 2006. “Creating Prepared Minds.” Retrieved from http://www.robmillard.com on August 6, 2006.))
Flipping through Robs site, I found a great post on reducing your strategic clock speed – that is, reducing your reaction time to market events. He has 10 points, but I wanted to comment on several of them individually before you head over and read them all.
2. Broaden Participation in Strategy ((Millard, Rob, June 5, 2006. “Increasing Your Strategic Clock Speed.” Retrieved from http://www.robmillard.com on August 6, 2006.))
Including a wider range of people in the process of strategy formulation, even people that would not necessarily typically be involved, has three advantages:
a. It raises the general “Strategic IQ” of people in the firm overall, broadening the range of people in the firm that think strategically.
b. It brings in fresh ideas and encourages innovation.
c. It improves the focus on execution, as opposed to goals alone.
We often talk about involving all levels of employees during change management conversations. We talk about why it’s important for everyone to understand the business results we’re expecting from the changes, but then after the change work is done, we leave the masses alone and talk about strategies amongst ourselves. While we believed the masses were critical for adoption in the midst of implementation, and we believed they understood the strategy at that time, we also discounted them as real contributors.
True adoption of new strategies comes only from people who actually understand what’s being implemented. If our assumption is that our employees “get it” when we’re doing our change work, I think it’s also appropriate that we assume they “get it” when we’re in strategy development. While I’d never suggest that 100% adoption rates are possible in change work, the point is that you don’t really know who your contributors are, but discounting the entire population from the start is a mistake.
We’ve all talked about change agents coming up from a grassroots level in the organization. We’ve also heard about some of the best innovations and plans coming from the bottom up rather than being meticulously planned and executed. Create cultures of communication and open contribution. You might be surprised what you hear back.