Q: In many organizations, it takes 50 people to agree to a strategic change and only a few to stop progress. This dynamic may be what drove Tom to take action on a strategy he could control. Do you have any insights on gaining strategic consensus?
A: Strategy is defined in the course of day-to-day business. The purpose of a strategy-making process is to capture current insights, identify actions and focus resources on initiatives that will promote the enterprise’s objectives. A strategy defined alone may be elegant, but it won’t help the organization focus on what should—and should not—be done, because it doesn’t have the commitment from those who set priorities and allocate resources.
Strategy is less about the result than the commitment to a course of action (that’s why Peter Drucker said, “Strategy is a commodity, and execution is art”). Effective strategy making starts with one-on-one conversations in order to understand a company’s competitive positioning as well as the goals and aspirations of the leaders in the organization.
By collecting, framing and playing back this information, CIOs and their staffs can, over time, facilitate cross-functional discussions that result in strategic clarity, focus and commitment. Of course, this process is made easier if they define their strategy-making approach in conjunction with a few of the most powerful, key executives.
Q: What could Tom have done to prevent himself from being booted? If he had such intelligence and years of experience, why was he not given a chance to recover?
A: Tom was given a chance to recover, but he decided to assume a defensive and oppositional posture rather than reflect on and change his behaviors. He could have prevented himself from being booted if he’d focused on building relationships and facilitating participative decision and strategy making rather than spending most of his time in his office.