One of the biggest impediment to the development of a strategy within a business is that it can’t be either seen or touched, in other words, business strategy is intangible.
It’s not a case that the majority of strategy meetings (at least those I have experienced) tend to be long and tedious, in where participants frequently feel as debating about thin air.
Is the problem of developing a business strategy rooted in our human nature? Are some people better than others when it comes to drawing up business strategies?
Let’s start with the first question about business strategy and the human nature.
Yes, as humans we have problems to perceive intangible realities like business strategy. Unfortunately, though, the situation is worst; we can easily get confused even when it comes to grasping reality, something that is there in front of our eyes.
If you are sceptic about this, let me ask you if the train in the picture below is a real train or a model?
I bet that this question will generate different answers. Although the picture is the same for all of us, we perceive it in a variety of different ways. Speaking of trains, can you say with 100% accuracy if it’s the train you are sitting on or is the train beside you that is moving? I always get this wrong!
OK, I think you get my point.
Let’s tackle the second questions: are some of us better than others at business strategy?
Here, we have to make a significant distinction between an already established business strategy and the creation of a new one.
This difference is of paramount importance.
Despite all of us, to some extent, are wired similarly there are significant differences in place. Some of us are rational, while others are creative, some of us like maths while others hate it from the bottom of their hearts (I’m in this second category here).
Finally, the good news, to compete sustainably organisations require different people when it comes to crafting their strategies. Up to now, there has been a tendency in many organisations to prefer rational over creative thinking in strategy making.
In the last few years, things are changing radically.
Both rational and creative people are invited to participate at the strategy table, call it the democratisation of business strategy.
And now we are touching the essence of the problem. More and more people are welcome to participate in the strategy of an organisation, but is there a common language? Or are we facing the Babel of strategy?
If people with different backgrounds, skills and outlooks participate in business strategy chances are that confusion is on the way. To avoid this, we need to provide a common ground for discussion accommodating different perspectives.
The term common ground is more appropriate here than a common language because the latter is frequently associated with written or spoken words which unfortunately fall short of making strategy a group activity. Visualisation is the key.
The ability to visualise rather than just verbalise an idea offers a higher ground for understanding the business strategy of your organisation and its evolution over time.