Mathematical Relevance and Strength of Delivery-focused Strategy
Pieter Marais: MD Kontextit
Most companies have been involved in strategic processes in some form or another. Strategic processes in general have been rather inconsistent (patchy) in its level of success in contributing to organisations. What is often seen in strategic processes, that causes strategic clutter and a loss in strategic focus, are e.g.:
1. Inappropriate and/or weak strategies – due to a lack depth in understanding the context and contextual challenges of the organisation.
2. Lack in depth in understanding why certain strategic decisions are taken, i.e. lack of clarity of intent. Similar actions can be taken for completely different strategic intent, e.g. an acquisition can be made to:
Ease out the cost base of the organisation;
Better protect its longer term sustainability;
Make it more profitable;
Enhance the company’s market position as preferred investment,
3. Strategic intent cluttered by managerial operational issues that distract and devalue strategic focus;
4. Strategies, whilst being appropriately pitched, not comprehensive enough in dealing with the relevant and essential contextual challenges. The strategy therefore being “too shallow”.
5. Strategic plans cluttered by a focus on activities to be performed rather than end- state value generation and delivery. The risk that activities become the primary focus which may derail and devalue the endgame.
6. Mismatch between strategic intent and strategic drivers. The intent may be appropriate but the drivers may be inadequate. This quite often seems to be the case in strategic plans.
Besides the weaknesses in strategic plans, the strategic processes are often long-winded and exorbitantly expensive. The long-windedness may be necessary to justify the cost of strategy development.
Kontextit’s approach to strategy
Kontextit is all about delivery and value delivery in context.
We have developed the delivery-based model for organisation setup and design. This model, with its applied mathematical underbuilt, set a platform that assists in the development of delivery-based strategies that are contextually relevant, of appropriate weight and strength to deliver the endgame. The context gives clear guidance on required value delivery as well as a clear indication of the strategic themes to be addressed. Through the application of the model and mathematics the core essence of a relevant strategic plan can be developed within hours, not days or months. The process therefore focuses on cost-effective development of contextually relevant strategies of appropriate strength.
A quick shorthand description of the process involves:
1. Define the relevant organisation strategic future delivery intent. This is an essential step in defining the relevant delivery context. This is not pie in the sky vision and mission, but hard measurable delivery intent.
2. Determine the mathematical weight that in turn will refine the contextual playground and prevent overlooking core contextual relevant issues to be addressed.
3. Identify the relevant contextual delivery themes that are critical to the organisation and understand their inter-dependence and implications;
4. Define the core delivery-based strategies for the organisation;
5. Determine each core strategy’s mathematical weighting to ensure relevance and appropriate strength and refine where needed.
6. Draft and finalise the strategy and relevant documents.
7. Allocate strategic delivery to appropriate executives/managers. (Delivery, not activities, as activities need to be decided upon by the person responsible for delivery)
(Steps 1 – 5 can be completed within hours depending on the understanding and contextual insight strength of the strategy development team members)
There are two key approaches in applying Kontextit’s methodology:
Kontextit can objectively evaluate existing strategic plans to determine its contextual relevance, strength and degree of integration of critical themes. This can be done irrespective of whether the strategy is delivery-based or still in activity-based format.
In so doing, we shall give feedback on, e.g.:
· The contextual relevance of strategy compared to market and its own strategic intent.
· Quality of strategies and if strategies are focused on end-state delivery;
· The presence of issues that water down or derail the strategic focus, as discussed above:
o Inappropriate focus areas;
o Weakly defined areas;
o Areas that are absent and should be addressed;
o Areas that should not be part of strategy.
· Recommendation on adjustments, refinements, additions, omissions.
During a feedback discussion, on-site or online, the above can be addressed to ensure a strategy of relevance, appropriate strength and focus.
A zero-based delivery-based strategy development process can also be done by largely following the shorthand process described above.
Comparative strategy strength analysis with competitor strategies (that can often be derived by understanding the strategic intent that gets published) can also be done to determine the variance in strength between the company and competitor strategies. This will highlight where company strategy may have advantages or disadvantages over that of competitors, the reasons for it and how own strategies can be adjusted, if required.
A dashboard with percentages and colour coding are used to visibly demonstrate all the dynamics, deviations, strengths, weaknesses and relevance of strategy. This is a critical process when analysing existing strategy. The format also gets used while developing a strategy from zero base.
A typical example of a strategy dashboard:
Areas highlighted in red usually indicates a High Risk to company – either it is over, or under designed. In this specific case there is a marginal, albeit still at moderate risk, difference in strategy between the company and a competitor. When the contextual fields is analysed, within which these companies needs to deliver, it is clear the competitor is significantly closer to the optimal market challenges, albeit still far off. The detail further reveals that there are clear operational issues captured in the strategic plan that divert the strategic focus of the company. The purpose of this article is not to describe the above findings and dynamics. This article demonstrates how the delivery context and supportive mathematics contribute to a more robust appreciation of company strategy.
This dashboard gets discussed in detail whilst evaluating strategic plans and/or during the construction/design of strategic plans to ensure:
· A full understanding of the percentages and colour coding;
· Understanding the contextually relevant challenges;
· Understanding of the strategy delivery intent;
· Understanding of the strategy deliverables;
· Understanding what and why certain adaptations need to be made to strategy.
The delivery-based approach to strategy combined with the mathematical analysis of appropriateness and strength is critical for the objective, non-emotional development and/or analysis of strategy. It furthermore results in a faster, more effective. in-depth, as well as more cost -effective approach to strategy development.
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