What Is strategy – overcoming projectosis. How often do you encounter the expectation of strategic thinking as managers, only to find upon entering an organization that the strategy you see is more like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak?
The Challenge of Invisible Strategies in Management
Beautiful words proclaimed by top management are only seen in deeply hidden folders on computer desktops, with no chance of living in the hearts and minds of employees. The most common strategies I’ve encountered and discussed from experience are listed below:
The “Lone Computers” Strategy: Technology-Centric Approaches
This involves implementing new tools, automation, mastering a particular technology, and spending millions of coins on it. The “technology-only” strategy may seem simple, but even the best, lone F1 driver won’t last long alone. To “turn” all the wheels to pole position, in addition to the Honda RA621H 1.6 V6T engine (technology), we need efficient engineering execution, effective pit stops (processes), and talented mechanics who will design a new car (people). This is the system that, along with technology, emphasizes processes and brings the strategy to life with plans related to the strategic development of people.
Secretive Strategies: The “CSI” Approach
Sometimes there are “secret strategies for employees,” known to a few, mainly managers, increasing the likelihood that people and teams will self-organize in any way, not necessarily serving the organization’s goals. Lack of communication, too abstract messages, conflicting contents in the strategy, or a disconnect between vision and decisions (“our organization is unique, I don’t know if you fit in”) are already a good basis for complete disorganization. To make our strategy the team’s strategy, it’s worth using a combination of cascading + catchball methods (e.g., “I see more,” like Hoshin Kanri), thus turning monologue into dialogue.
The Pitfalls of the “I Promised the Boss” Strategy
Sometimes, I encounter situations where managers, lacking their own vision and ideas, record quotes, ideas, and important orders from the “boss of bosses” at all Board meetings, which are then visualized on a few PowerPoint slides as goals like earning and saving money. It’s a “wishful strategy” with “wishful execution” and green-painted grass in the background. As a result, operational departments often don’t know how to translate these goals into daily work (except for a few cost cuts). In addition to a wish list and financial demands, it’s worthwhile to have a Strategy Executive Plan that briefly translates how we want to achieve our goals and how we will know they are achieved (indicator).
Overcoming “Projectosis”: The Challenge of Project Overload
Project chases project because leaders from different parts of the organization gather a substantial basket of business ideas, which they then put into a leather portfolio of projects. Individual teams (business or mixed) consider their projects essential and key, causing the strategy to swell with an overload of “projectosis,” which IT teams often have to execute. As a result, we lack clear selection criteria, and people and teams suffer from an excess of unnecessary work. Strategy is neither a plan nor a target model. It’s a decision-making pattern. By providing tools and supporting decision-makers, we should avoid what does not align with the company’s vision. The vision is about removing everything from the strategy that we do not want to be. “There is nothing more ineffective than efficiently doing something that should not be done” (Piter De).
“Not Ready for Everything” Strategy: The Trap of Excuses
This is a picture of managers who are afraid to make bold decisions or implement changes “here and now.” I often hear “we are not ready for these changes now” or “our managers can’t handle this now,” quickly becoming a slippery slope for stagnation and lack of development for both the company and its resources. There’s always a moment like “bad season,” “too many processes,” “too small a budget,” and waiting indefinitely won’t affect productivity, efficiency, or support for any strategy. Since there’s time to find excuses, there’s certainly time to make changes. What are your experiences? Which have you encountered on your path? Or do you have others?
Agata Nowak is a distinguished figure in the world of business and lean management. As the founder of SoulCare and the CEO of Leanovo Academy, she has exemplified her commitment to excellence and innovative leadership. Her tenure as the Head of the Standardization Department at CCC Group showcases her prowess in leadership and her dedication to implementing lean strategy management.