The Strategylight Zone

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to most managers. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between art and science, between the qualitative and quantitative and it lies between the pit of a manager’s fears and the summit of their knowledge. That’s the signpost up ahead–your next stop, the Strategylight Zone.

The time: 5:30 pm.

The place: a company, any company, maybe yours.

The situation: a working session between two managers preparing for tomorrow’s strategic plan presentation.

“Does the critical success factor’s slide go before or after the SWOT analysis slide?”

“Why do we even need to include the SWOT analysis slide? We didn’t do anything with it. It’s just a check-the-box exercise.”

“It’s part of the template deck so it’s got to be in there. But, you’re right. At this point, it’s just a big laundry list. If anything, it shows that we’re not very focused.”

“How are the big rocks different from the strategic objectives? We have one slide with the rocks and one with the objectives. Hey I know. We could put a rocks-paper-scissors animation into the slide to show that the big rocks win.”

“Actually, paper covers rocks. We could make the strategic plan the paper that covers the big rocks.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. The big rocks are part of the strategic plan.”

“Ok. So where is our strategy slide? Shouldn’t we have a slide that clearly and concisely describes our strategy.”

“Hmmm, you’re right. We have 45 slides and not one shows our strategy. We’ve got the situation analysis, all the market share data, objectives, tactics and metrics, but no strategy. What should we do?”

Well, what would you do? For many well-intentioned managers, this episode of the Strategylight Zone is all too real. Research published in the Harvard Business Review showed that 43% of managers couldn’t state their own strategy and 67% of managers believe their organization is bad at developing strategy. Both of these dismal numbers may be in part due to the fact that only 19% of managers say their companies have a distinct process for developing strategy.

[Rod Serling voice over:] Two managers holed up in a third floor conference room the night before a strategic plan presentation. Will the plan be a useful tool to drive their activities throughout the year, or is it simply another dog-and-pony show to appease senior management?

Tonight’s tale, from the Strategylight Zone.

 

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