The Case for Strategy Capabilities (Part 1)

Strategy is arguably the single most important capability for leaders at any level. How can you hope to lead anyone anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there. Are you the CEO of a company? Better have a good strategy. Are you the leader of a function within a business? Better have a strategy. Marketing? Needs a strategy. Operations? Needs a strategy. Talent management? Needs a strategy. Continuous improvement? Needs a strategy. Engineering or New Product Development or Supply Chain? Well, you get the point. Strategy is not just relegated to the corner office or the C-Suite leaders. At least some strategy capabilities are needed for every leader at every level in every function of the business in order for the business to grow and prosper. Yet strategy remains the most misunderstood and the least developed of all leadership capabilities.

So, why is this an issue?

With strategic complexity increasing, Chief Strategy Officers have very little faith in their business unit or corporate strategies. If the leaders at this level with extensive capabilities (and often big consulting budgets available) aren’t convinced of their strategies, how can the rest of the organization that hasn’t been trained in strategy development or have budgets for outside consultants be aligned and contributing to the cause? Answer: they can’t. Result: hundreds of businesses suffer poor results and fall into obscurity.

So, what’s the root cause of this lack of capabilities and what needs to improve? There are three primary issues:

  1. Old-school, traditional thinking about what strategy is and who should ‘do’ strategy.
  2. Inherent issues with the strategy development, alignment and execution processes.
  3. Outsourcing strategy to someone else instead of building your own capabilities.

We’ll cover each of these along with a solution in upcoming posts. Stay tuned…