Decontextualised and ineffective strategy

Solving the dilemma of decontextualised strategy:

Theory of Contextual Delivery approach


Pieter Marais

October 2021


A lot has been written in the past about strategy, the value thereof, how it takes companies forward or not. A lot has also been written about the process and approach to strategy development – from the traditional environmental scanning to scenario based planning, SWOT analysis, objective based planning, stakeholder analysis, analysis of strategic drivers and more.

Few have focused on measurable indicators of success, even less have focused on actual, relevant, clearly defined and measureable delivery. In most strategic plans there is a near absence of a focus on measurable contextual relevance of organizational strategic plans and deliverables to the realities, dynamics and imperatives of the organization. They may have strategies and these may be measureable, but they may be contextually inappropriate and irrelevant to the real contextual challenges the organization has to address for relevance and sustainability.

Many strategic plans are born from an idealization of the future with a lack of, or sometimes complete absence of contextual relevance. For that reason strategic plans are often:

  • Disconnected from what critically needs to be delivered for the organization going forward,

  • Disconnected from the required structure to support the delivery intent, as well as

  • Disconnected from the critically needed role deliverables to ensure achievement of contextually relevant strategic deliverables.

When Kontextit’s mathematical modelling technology is utilized to evaluate declared and documented strategies versus what is a contextually and essentially required strategy, it is not unusual to find a significant misalignment. A misalignment of 15%+ is usually considered a significant risk to any organization. It is however not unusual to find misalignment figures in the region of 20% and more. The impact of this includes:

  1. People being oblivious to the misalignment impact on the organisation’s sustainability, effectiveness, lack of success and relevance in the market. A false sense of doing well prevails until the dramatic losing of relevance and becoming unsuccessful. This is usually when a change in leadership has to take place or when it has become “too late to save the day”.

  2. People being aware that the organization is not achieving what it should, but not fully understanding why. This is when culture surveys and interventions, drastic actions for cost saving and production/service delivery is taken or when systems are being grabbed onto to save the day, e.g. performance management. Actions taken often results in a re-emphasizing of what they are already doing well, but not focusing on what should be done contextually different and therefore not making the relevant strategic changes required.

  3. People revisiting the same plan again next year and adding additional actions, de-contextualized and inappropriate, with minimal to no impact on the sustainability and effectiveness of the organization. The strategic planning session becomes more of a team building exercise rather than a focused and real strategic exercise that gets repeated annually. The organization essentially continues to drift, often sideways, but in some instances quite dramatically into a downward spiral.


KONTEXTIT's APPROACH TO STRATEGY

Whilst we as consultants are well versed with the traditional vision, mission, PESTLL, SWOT, objective setting methodology as well as the scenario development and planning methodology, our concerns regarding de-contextualization of strategy, as stated above, has continued to grow. We have seen organizations go through expensive days/weeks of strategy/scenario planning resulting in glossy booklets with often limited to no contextually relevant and significant delivery.


For that reason and as a result of the exciting emerging contributions from the Theory, Systems and Practices of Contextual Delivery, Kontextit has developed a contextually relevant, cost-effective and innovative approach to a delivery-based strategy development. The developed strategy can also be mathematically analyzed to demonstrate its relevance/non-relevance and alignment/non-alignment to essential contextual organizational requirements.


Contextually relevant

The theoretical framework that Kontextit developed addresses actual delivery in organisations. This delivery forms the platform to determine the contextual relevance of strategy, job and organization design, job evaluation and systems alignment, performance management and more.

Developing contextually relevant delivery based strategies implies that one e.g.:

  • Will not necessarily focus on reduced cost strategies if the intent is business profitability or market positioning.

  • Nor will one necessarily focus on market positioning, through expansion and growth, if the core intent of the business is production/service target achievement at lowest cost.

These two examples will not only require contextually significantly different strategies, but will also require two different organization and work designs to ensure the achievement of said strategic deliverables. In no strategic processes currently being performed is context actively in focus – that goes for any of the existing strategic planning approaches. While some, if not most, do tacitly address the core aspects of the external and internal environment and uncertainties, it does not actively address contextual relevance to ensure contextually appropriate delivery.

To focus on context implies that one need to:

  • Clearly understand the required business delivery intent;

  • Understand what the context is that this business intent equates to (and if this business intent is contextually relevant and appropriate);

  • Clearly identify the key contextual delivery-based themes within the appropriate context that needs to be addressed. The generic themes for each context are already available which ease the process of defining the relevant and required themes;

  • Clearly identify the contextually appropriate and critical strategic deliverables of relevance to the organization to move forward towards the achievement of the delivery intent.

By nature of the themes defined, the key relevant role-players, stakeholders and interrelationships are part and parcel of the defined delivery-based process and outcomes.


Cost-effective

Strategic planning processes often come at a significant price-tag to companies and can sometimes take weeks or months to complete. There are multiple reasons for this but one key reason, yet again, has to do with the lack of focus on contextual relevance. Additional non-relevant “bells and whistles” often get added to unnecessarily lengthen the process and subsequently inflate the price-tag.

A contextually relevant focus implies that one keeps ones focus and development on that which is relevant and critical to the context of the current and/or emerging business/organisation. By keeping a contextually relevant focus, the core themes of critical strategy can be identified and developed into focused strategic delivery. This process need not take days, in fact if the intent is appropriate, relevant, focused and clear, strategic relevant deliverables can be developed within ‘n very short space of time. The Theory of Contextual Delivery’s contextual frameworks assist in defining the context and assist in shaping the relevant and appropriate delivery-based strategies reasonably quickly. This implies a substantially reduced price-tag with a significantly raised focus on contextually relevant and appropriate strategic issues of critical concern to the future and sustainability of the organization.


Mathematical relevance

This is a major breakthrough in evaluating the weighted relevance of strategy, structure, job design, job evaluation and more. Assisted by applied mathematicians, all delivery and activity in an organisation can now be weighted to determine contextual relevance and coherent alignment from strategy, job design, structure to people and more. The size of gaps or degrees of contextual inappropriateness can now be expressed in numbers and percentages. With these breakthrough technologies the following can now be evaluated:

  • The mathematical weight of deliverables;

  • Whether these deliverables according to their weight are appropriate to the critical contextual requirements of the organization;

  • Whether the deliverables that are there should or shouldn’t be there – the mathematical weighting of each strategic driver will indicate relevance or not. It also indicates how these deliverables needs to be adapted to be contextually relevant

  • What deliverables are not present that actually should be included in a contextually relevant strategy. This becomes obvious based on a clear understanding of the contextually relevant challenges to the organization.

We have found organization strategy often to be packed with contextually irrelevant and inappropriate information - clutter that masks the real strategic issues. Much of this information should more often be part of daily management delivery. These “strategic issues” should actually be part and parcel of an appropriate delivery-based performance management system and not of company strategy. This often, as a result of the contextually inappropriate focus, implies that the actual critical contextually relevant strategic issues have not even been considered and can often be completely absent.


IMPLICATIONS OF A DE-CONTEXTUALISED INAPPROPRIATE STRATEGY

There are numerous implications of a contextually inappropriate designed strategy. These include, e.g.:

  • Inappropriate or ineffective market positioning;

  • Inappropriate or ineffective business and organisation design;

  • Inappropriate or ineffective structure and role design;

  • Inappropriate or ineffective people resources;

  • Inappropriate or ineffective systems.

All of these have serious implications in relations to, e.g..:

  • Sustainability;

  • Credibility/image;

  • Effectiveness;

  • Financial growth/stability and

  • Cost.

These implications can result in e.g. a lame duck organisation that stumbles from one year to the next, or an organisation in slow decline, or an organisation meeting a very quick demise.


Contextually relevant and appropriately weighted strategy design is essential to ensure a quality and focused organization setup and design relevant to its future, its success and sustainability.





Our services include:

· Direct consulting services;

· Mixed model approach of direct consulting as well as in-house enabling through skills development in the delivery based framework;

· In-house skills development in the delivery based framework and associated technologies.


In-house skills development in the delivery-based model, while optimal being done on site, can also very effectively be done online.


For more information contact us directly at: kontextit@kontextit.com

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