The Missing Strategic Ingredient

Part of the difficulty in strategy creation is the temptation to direct rather than ask open-ended questions.
When the C-suite sends a directive telling people to head in a certain direction, thinking isn’t involved. Teams start to align against that order and move to execute it.
Middle-management becomes the scapegoat for failure to execute the strategy because at higher levels the following question failed to be asked:
“Does our organization need to do anything differently to be able to go there?”
Someone in your company knows the answer. Does anyone want to hear that it might be difficult, require funding or need adjustment to fit the culture? Our propensity not to ask open-ended questions of this kind relates to our drive to completion. In business, we’re trained to take the order and get on the shortest path to getting it done.
This isn’t always the correct method. In fact, well’meaning executives can make matters worse by offering detailed directives as to how to achieve a particular vision. We’ve all been there – micro-management gives more than just topline guidance, it gets into a level of specificity that spells out who does what, by when and what the results will look like when it’s done.
Specification of ways and means can be a catalyst for failure when the directives don’t match organizational reality. It comforts executives who feel that they have control of details and know what’s going on, but it’s a fallacy.
The truth is that we hire competent, smart people and teach them our values and culture. Then, as they are faced with strategic problems that must be solved, they use the intellectual tool kit they brought to the organization and supplement it with those values and culture to develop a solution that’s a match for the organization.

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