What the Board misses during a strategy process

When it comes to crafting a corporate strategy, its success can easily be obscured by unforeseen obstacles. Drawing on my experience and understanding of organizational dynamics, I have identified five blind spots that boards often overlook during the strategy process.

Blindspot 1: The strategic planning process is like the iceberg illusion – it reveals only a fraction of its mass above water. Many boards often focus on the visible aspects of strategy, ignoring the deeper layers of organizational culture and dynamics that can impact execution. Boards must recognize that strategy isn’t solely about crafting grand visions but also about understanding the submerged cultural currents and employee motivations. Overlooking these intangible elements can lead to misalignment, resistance, and failed execution. For this reason, you have probably seen well-designed and bound strategic documents, that no one ever opens to read and implement.

Blindspot 2: Low-hanging fruits fallacy. Often, boards may be enticed by immediate wins, such as cost-cutting measures or quick revenue boosts, but these can mask underlying weaknesses in the business model. It’s crucial to strike a balance between short-term tactical moves and a robust, future-oriented strategy. The board must focus first and foremost on the future-proof business model – that ensures the future success of the company in the medium and long term.

Blindspot 3: Strategy is a simple process, that anyone can do. Navigating strategic decisions in a volatile environment is akin to sailing through thick fog without a compass, making it challenging to chart a clear course. Boards must acknowledge the inevitability of uncertainty and be prepared to adapt swiftly. A rigid strategy that doesn’t account for changing market dynamics can lead to missed opportunities and strategic irrelevance. The traditional approach to strategic planning is inadequate in today’s business environment. It is good to undertake a SWOT analysis, however,

Blindspot 4: An orchestra without a conductor produces discordant music. Similarly, a lack of alignment among board members can lead to conflicting decisions and confusion. Successful strategy requires a harmonious alignment between the board, executive leadership, and employees. When board members hold divergent views, it can hinder effective execution and create confusion down the line. The current approach where the board waits for the “strategy” from management to critique, is old school. It is important for the board to get involved early in the strategy planning process by sharing their vision and future-proof ideas to remain competitive now and in the future.

Blindspot 5: Chasing industry best practices without understanding the unique context of the organization is akin to chasing mirages in the desert—seductive but ultimately unfulfilling. While benchmarking against industry peers can provide valuable insights, blindly adopting their practices can stifle innovation and differentiation. Boards must tailor strategies to their organization’s distinctive strengths and market position.

Copyright Mr Strategy of Summit Consulting Ltd, 2023, All rights reserved.

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