Strategy & Delusion
Joseph Kony persuaded his kidnapped child-soldiers that a cross on their chest, drawn in oil, would protect them from bullets.
I’ve recently attended training sessions where trainers have taught young political activists to strategise using systems that are terribly incomplete and inadequate. Elsewhere, I’ve seen business advisor gurus press under-researched, cookie-cutter and cliché ‘strategies’, onto companies that are struggling to keep going.
With resources always short, social change organisations and businesses of every kind, need to properly plan their way ahead, or they are in trouble.
How do we avoid adopting strategies that aren’t much more than a badly-drawn oily cross?
A few thoughts for testing what’s on offer:
- The strategy must be consistent with your organisation’s future culture and values, and brand;
- The process of developing the strategy must be transparent, rigorous, demonstrably logical, and backed by diligent research;
- The objective at which the strategy is directed must be possible: difficult maybe, but possible;
- The major elements of the strategy must be both necessary and sufficient, to deliver on that objective: there can be no leaps of faith;
- The detail of the strategy must reflect all of the most difficult obstacles, and strongest opportunities, that you have identified as laying between where you are and your objective; and
- Assessments of what’s possible, and what’s necessary and sufficient, must be objective, and reflect the whole of the environment in which you operate – particularly the personal and organisational negatives that so many advisors and strategists are reluctant or unable to articulate.
Is there more? Are there better tests?