July 28, 2012
Some recent reading brought me back to this fundamental strategy question – If you organization closed, would anyone notice? Who would miss you the most and how long would it take for another organization to fill your role? In her Harvard Business Review article, Putting Leadership Back into Strategy, author Cynthia Montgomery, frames strategic leadership challenges with this line of questions.
How an executive team answers these questions defines both that organizations market value, as well as its competitive advantage – a concept developed by Michael Porter and one I’ve written about frequent (see Better Performance=Competitive Advantage all members and What Does it All Mean? all members). But, competitive advantage is not static. Politics and science change our landscape, consumer and payers wants change, and new competition always crops up. To address this, Ms. Montgomery poses that organizations need to reframe the role of strategic planning and the role of the organization’s leadership in strategy so that strategy leadership is both a solution and a process:
The “solution” is what we think of as the science of developing the “strategic plan.” The executive team and strategy consultants conducting market research and analysis in an intensive period that results in identification of competitive advantage and in a plan to achieve that advantage in the marketplace.
The “process” addresses the dynamic nature of the market and the need for constant organizational evolution. The CEO needs to be the organization’s chief strategist – leading the continuous process of creating value and fostering competitive advantages over time. This is a role that cannot be outsourced to strategy consultants. It’s a role that only the leader can fill.
Ms. Montgomery summarizes, “The need to create and re-create reasons for…continued existence sets the strategist apart. He or she must keep one eye on how the company is currently adding value and the other eye on changes, both inside and outside the company…bringing perspective to the midst of action and purpose to the flow—not solving the strategy puzzle once—is the crowning responsibility of the CEO.”
This speaks to the need for leaders to use both their “left brain” analytical skills and their “right brain” intuitive skills. The development of a strategic plan is an analytical “left-brained” exercise – gathering and analyzing market intelligence and creating organizational plans focused on competitive advantage. The role of strategist – implementing a strategic plan and modifying that plan over time in response to the market – is a “right-brained” pursuit.
To continue the discussion about developing a continuous strategy for your organization, join me in September for my presentation, Position For Success: Developing A Strategy For A Shifting Market, at the 2012 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Institute. And to share your thoughts in the meantime, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS
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