Strategy Only Matters If…

In the current issue of McKinsey Quarterly are two great articles on the Art of Strategy as well as Mastering the Building Blocks of Strategy. Good insights on where strategy development is headed…
Deeper analytical rigor
Deeper understanding of psychology and adult learning (…For the >senior execs< who are developing the strategies)
 Greater discipline behind resource allocation
 Greater emphasis on micro-markets to achieve overall market superiority

And then there’s this when it comes to strategy implementation: “…Designing a social process such that [senior execs/strategy designers] can really grapple with the big ideas and come to grips with changing deeply held biases about what the company should do. Because in the end, it’s a year or two away when the big calls will happen, and in their gut, if they haven’t actually grappled, if they haven’t actually changed their beliefs, if they don’t have conviction, then the strategy won’t actually get implemented.”

See the problem? Deep senior exec grappling and deep senior exec conviction isn’t about execution!!! It’s about planning and alignment. 

Senior execs don’t implement shit! People on the front lines and in back rooms and team meetings do that! People who make and deliver and sell products do that. People who serve customers do that.

If McKinsey and their clients are truly interested in strategy execution, they need to be just as rigorous and disciplined about powerfully condensing that grappling-sense-making-understanding that senior execs go through for the masses.

There are many who do just that, creating experiences for the workforce that enable them to figure out, on their own, why and how new strategies are needed — reliving the grappling, belief-changing and conviction-forming experience for themselves.

Among the many who do that are Root Learning’s Learning Maps, Alexander Osterwalder’s Strategyzer, and the Jensen Group’s Message Maps.

Yet every model and tool that helps the masses in grappling / belief-changing / conviction-forming has one thing in common: the art and discipline of storytelling! 

Why? Because throughout human history, storytelling has been hard-wired into us as the primary way we make sense of things. Strategies are business logic and analytical sense-making, storytelling is human-reality-common-sense sense-making. 

Here is the anatomy of a Message Map, based on the anatomy of a story.


Leave a Reply