7 inconvenient truths of strategy

| December 17, 2014

As the year comes to a close many businesses are reviewing their strategy for 2015. Paul Hunter CEO of the Strategic Management Institute highlights how the strategy process can be flawed.

I use the notion of Seven Inconvenient Truths of Strategy to depict observations from my experience in business as well as extensive research to show that strategy practices (the doing of strategy) are deficient in a number of ways.

Below is a summary of my findings:

1. The content of a Strategic ‘Plan’ lacks relevance: The entrenched 1960’s ‘planning’ regime is no longer as relevant as it was at the time of its inception; a time of certainty and predictability.

2. Strategy is an undefined and dynamic system rather than a closed loop process: Strategy is an open looped system that flourishes within a world of contradiction.

3. Measures of strategy effectiveness are misplaced and ill defined: The primary focus of strategy evaluation is on an assessment of specific outcomes rather than the ‘causal’ factors arising from inevitable assumptions/guesstimates that are made in its formulation.

4. Individual subconscious preferences exert an invisible, adverse influence on decision making; it is also overly influenced by subconscious preferences and a dominant logic that prevails in teams.

5. Implementation is notoriously unsuccessful: terminology such as “a relentless focus on execution” emphasises redundancy and discontinuity over a more positive “program of continual strategy renewal.”

6. An organisation’s strategy content is often disjointed and disconnected from the external environment as well as many internal components of the organisation: Alignment is often missing from strategy.

7. Strategy practices lack an appropriate perspective of professionalism: Strategy is not a natural science, but a socially constructed convention that exists between peers.

Paul Hunter is the CEO of the Strategic Management Institute. The notion of inconvenient truths in strategy has been captured by Gower Publishing and they are now the basis for a book. The focus of the book though is the presentation of a fully integrated Strategic Management Framework that Paul uses to return relevance to strategy and strategy in practice. He highlighted this at the Strategic Management Society Conference in Sydney on 7 December.