In today’s world most of the continual change is more tactical in nature than strategic. But if you put all those tactical changes together they form the basis of a strategy anyway.

Strategy making used to be a periodic exercise. Now it’s a continuous necessity. Questions such as “What changed last week?” are suddenly strategic as everyone’s context keeps changing putting your resilience at risk!

On a recent webcast the topic of resetting strategy was discussed. The main point of the discussion was rethinking the strategy making process to be more continuous, agile and context aware–similar to moving from a waterfall approach to agile development. This more agile approach makes absolute sense but how exactly do you achieve this?

This blog answers the following questions: 

1  “How can I stand up a continual strategy making process?”
2  “Can it become incremental in nature so the ongoing overhead is sustainable?”


1) Standing up a continual strategy making process: To pull this off, you’ll need to augment your typical top-down strategy process with bottom up context from across your functional team leadership.  So in addition to:

Vision->Mission->Objectives->Strategy->Initiatives


you’ll need to add ongoing changes at the local level (narratives from functional leadership).

Vision->Mission->Objectives->Changes->Strategy->Initiatives
Changes->Strategy->Initiatives
Changes->Strategy->Initiatives…

This continual process incrementally updates your strategy. If the changes are significant enough, like Uber delivering food, then your Vision, Mission and Objectives need to be refreshed as well.  
  
So what do these changes look like and how do you management them? Here’s an example collected narratives from interviews I did with a healthcare organization:

Things that need to Increase:
  • Strategic Roadmap
  • Integrated Health Science
  • Broad Lean Six Sigma Training
  • Process improvements
  • Improve Operations
  • Bl Platform
  • Clinical Data Whse
  • VOC
  • Internal Referrals
  • Slack Time
  • Eliminate Waste
  • Single Patient Contact Person
  • Top 5 Brand


  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Investment ventures
  • Patient Care
  • Financial performance
  • Consulting
  • Product development
  • Delight our Customers
  • Risk Reduction Services
  • Brand
  • Culture of change
  • Patient Safety
  • Technology Ventures
  • Flow to Patient
Things that need to Decrease
  • Cancellations
  • Staff Dissatisfaction
  • Duplicate Systems
  • Red Tape
Things that Need to Stabilize
  • Errors
  • Temp Employees


   
You’ll notice all 52 of these desired changes take the form of soundbytes that could fill-in-the-blank on a question like:

“If our strategy is successful then  _______  will (increase, decrease, or stabilize).”


Typically most desired changes are things that increase, followed by some that decrease, and just a few that stabilize. But they are all outcomes that can be measured. This includes both tangible things like “Duplicate Systems” and intangibles like “Staff Dissatisfaction”.

The next step is linking these changes based on interdependencies. You’ll need help from some technology here to keep track of all the linkages. I’ve done this with a big spreadsheet but it’s much easier (more sustainable) with a purpose built tool like LeverSource.  Essentially you’ll compare each desired change to all other changes to determine if there is a prerequisite (upstream) relationship or an influence (downstream) relationship.

Here is an example of changes related to “Staff Dissatisfaction“:




These narratives and their linkages provide the context needed for your continuous strategy making process. This allows you to plot out the soundbytes based on the number of linkages. Here is an example of where “Staff Dissatisfaction” fits in the overall leverage map along with its prerequisites (red) and downstream impacts (green) if it’s solved:  



2) Making it incremental and sustainable After the initial heavy lifting (1 week) of  capturing individual narratives of desired changes across functional leadership and linking their interdependencies, the strategy making process becomes incremental and a continual paint-by-number exercise.  So as you achieve each change or add new ones, this “living leverage map” redraws itself to highlight the next highest leverage change to address. The example below shows what happens when you remove “Staff Dissatisfaction”, “Red Tape”, by completing “Six Sigma Training”, a “Strategic Roadmap” and finishing “Integrated Health Systems”:


Now that we have reduced the total desired changes from 52 to 46,  the next highest leverage change to address is “BI Platform” as shown in the lower left quadrant.

For a more traditional visual, below are examples from the LeverSource tool of the “Top 3 Things” to do before and after incremental changes are made. You’ll notice the total impact of changes has reduced from 66% to 48% as you’ve already taken the “big swings” in your continuous strategy making.

Before

After

It’s important to realize that as you add and remove changes each week your strategy will evolve! 

In Summary:

Continuous strategy delivery is possible if you have this type of shared, transparent context especially during this time of virtual working. The incremental nature of re-planning makes such continuous strategy delivery much easier and robust.

The complete LeverSource Cloud Strategy Delivery System is shown below:
 
For a discussion or quick demonstration please reach out to me at don@leversource.com
We also have a “try and buy” option if you want to experience the product first hand!