Strategic transformation is about little things

Strategy execution is a team effort. It needs lots of action by lots of people but the key thing is that action occurs. Grand visions can be inspiring but nothing inspires like results on the ground. Is it better to have one central team or to have many teams taking little actions? Should your strategy execution be “big bang” or have lots of little explosions of innovation?

Strategic transformation is very popular. It implies something big and positive that has a good outcome. As a result, it justifies large investments and a focus on strategic leadership. Often, however, productivity gains come from lots of little wins. Those gains come from an empowering, collaborative culture with a focus on teams. That doesn’t always suit a narrative of “Leaders driving change” but many of the best leaders drive just such a culture. Strategic leadership is vital but it does not need to be top-down, paternalistic and message-driven. It can be team-led, empowering and action-driven.

Does “digital transformation” need massive change driven from the top? It may be that “digital transformation” is just the organic adoption of new modes of delivery in anticipation of, and in response to, changing customer behaviour. There are lots of ways to innovate in communication, marketing, analysis of customer data, products and services and disruption of existing models. Most of these can, however, be realised by focused teams across an organisation or by working with partners, including start-ups and other service providers, who have such teams.

I’d rather have a first-rate execution and second-rate strategy than a brilliant idea and mediocre management. – Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase

In the image below, planting lots of little trees helps restore a natural habitat. These saplings explode into bushes and trees, creating an environment where many endangered species can thrive. The efforts of many teams over time transform an environment. What transformation can you achieve with little explosions of innovation?

Source: Wakatipu Reforestation Trust – replanting native trees to help biodiversity

Phil Guerin, Consultant/Director, Hague Consulting Ltd. © Hague Consulting Ltd 2022.

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