Outside of the military and the business world, the word “strategy” is not commonly used. It follows therefore that many erroneously think strategy belongs to the experts and strategy is not that important to the common person. If it were like when we are caught in a leadership situation, we can always consult the experts. The reality is that unless the leaders own the responsibility for the strategy, no expert or consultant can produce a strategy to prevent such organizations from wandering aimlessly and blindly into the future.
Strategy is simply a collective wisdom of the best way forward into the future in the context of the operating environment. Strategy is therefore the twin of the leadership vision viz the clear and precise mental portrait of the preferred future. A sound strategy is the overall long range plan that takes the organization from what it is today to become what it aspires to be in the future. In order words, leaders have the responsibility to develop a strategy to turn their vision into reality.
Obviously not all of us are gifted or experienced in organizational navigation to the future. We must not hesitate to seek help from whomsoever have developed strategies that have successfully brought organizations to fulfill their purpose and destiny. Notwithstanding the extraneous help, it cannot be overemphasized that a bona fide strategy can only be designed by the organization's leadership team.
The strategic road begins with studious understanding of the strategic threats and challenges. What will change that will require us to do things differently or else we will falter in our mission and eventually cease to be relevant to our community? What are emerging trends that will inexorably transform our landscape and lifestyle? What are other people and organizations doing at the moment that are potentially game-changing? The answers to these questions form the foundation of our leadership exploration to seek opportunities in the midst of challenges. The key to success at this stage is a melting pot of curiosity, paranoia and a healthy dose of adventurous spirit determined to adapt to come what may.
Patterns emerge when the collective leadership strive to observe and understand deeply what we will be and how we will behave in the future. Once we figure out a set of actions to change ourselves for the future tasks, it is imperative to analyse the resources necessary to support those changes. The energy or the type of energy underpinning our success today will be insufficient for our success tomorrow.
Finally, a strategic plan is constructed together with the envisioned future state as the centerpiece surrounded by a sum total of transformative actions and intentional allocation of appropriate resources. It is only a viable plan if the timeline for periodic evaluation, as well as specific individuals are held accountable for each piece of the action, are factored in. Nobody comes out with a perfect first draft. The initial plan has to be tweaked as we evaluate our progress with a voracious appetite for candid feedback. A robust strategic plan is perfected through the crucible of iterations of critique and alteration.
Strategy is a mindset, a vision, a committed plan and a collective action. Strategy is living realistically in the present while dreaming of the future and making effort to drive the organization towards that dream. Even if what we do today is good, it will not be good enough tomorrow. Strategy gets us ready for a better tomorrow.