CHAPTER 4 Reframing strategy

Strategic design is the organisation’s principal creative and learning activity

Organisations are poor at strategy. They treat it as an afterthought, something they’ll get to when time permits. Or else it’s an incremental planning exercise, a dour number-crunching routine or an inconvenient obligation that just has to be done.

Of course, if you have these feelings of indifference or even disdain towards strategy, then you’re hardly going to invest any more time and resources into the process than you feel are necessary. Instead, the go-to approach for many businesses resembles the following:

  • A two-day planning retreat is scheduled offsite for a select group of the organisation’s most senior personnel. It helps if these people are avid golfers, as a golf course is a usual prerequisite for the chosen location.
  • Pre-reading is gathered tirelessly by junior analysts who either won’t be invited to the workshop or if they are will play only a supporting role.
  • Three days prior to the workshop, the pre-reading is distributed. This usually consists of voluminous reports (which only the junior analysts have had time to digest) bound in a corporate-branded folder so thick any federal court lawyer would be proud to call it their own. (I once received a pre-read email containing 27 different attachments just 36 hours before the workshop.) These notes are almost never read owing to a lack of time (sorry, analysts!).
  • On the evening of the first day away energy ...

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