From Strategy to Practice
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From Strategy to Practice

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Strategic reversals are quite commonly failures of execution: a strategy is abandoned out of impatience or because of pressure for an instant payoff before it has had a chance to take root and yield ...

Strategic reversals are quite commonly failures of execution: a strategy is abandoned out of impatience or because of pressure for an instant payoff before it has had a chance to take root and yield results; or, its focal point is allowed to drift over time. To navigate a strategy, one must maintain a balance between strategizing and learning modes of thinking.

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From Strategy to Practice From Strategy to Practice Presentation Transcript

  • From Strategy to Practice Olivier Serrat 2013 The views expressed in this presentation are the views of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank, or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this presentation and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this presentation do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.
  • On Strategic Reversals There is a widespread perception that strategic reversals owe to strategic miscalculations: the strategy was not sufficiently perceptive, imaginative, or visionary; alternatively, it was too much of a good thing. But the truth is that strategic reversals are quite commonly failures of execution: a strategy is abandoned out of impatience or because of pressure for an instant payoff before it has had a chance to take root and yield results; or, its focal point is allowed to drift over time.
  • On Strategic Practice To draw a strategy is relatively easy; to realize it is difficult. This is because execution is both a macro and a micro exercise. One must adhere to a disciplined, yet open, unremitting habit of systematically reviewing, evaluating, prioritizing, sequencing, managing, redirecting, and even canceling related initiatives. Despite worldwide attention to strategic planning, the notion of strategic practice is surprisingly new. Strategic practice is not an action or a step: it is a process that is characterized by concern for the efficiency and effectiveness of strategists, not just organizations, and rests on more people than strategy formulation.
  • On Strategic Practice Given an approved strategy, strategic practice connects to both linear and lateral thinking in building, organizing, and working teams; appraising options; creating support mechanisms; assigning and holding responsibilities and accountability; choosing the right metrics; planning delivery; monitoring results; evaluating performance; and managing stakeholders and communications.
  • On Strategic Practice Strategy as practice relates directly to managerial activity. There are exciting moments in this, such as the grasping of situations, the begetting of ideas, and the identification of opportunities. But, there is also daily fare, e.g., the routine of planning and budgeting, the sitting in committees, the drafting of documents, the making of presentations, etc. Here, attention to detail counts for more than foresight: at all times, questions of suitability, feasibility, and acceptability must be asked and answered; it is best to factor in smaller steps, celebrate accomplishments, and move sequentially.
  • Strategy as Practice To practice a strategy, one must maintain a balance between strategizing and learning modes of thinking. This is achieved by more skillful, ambidextrous action within an environment, in which the pressure to make sense of emerging, complex situations is balanced by adaptive learning.
  • Navigating a Strategy Strategizing Strategizing involves a vision, a goal, a blueprint for the future, and a plan on how to get there. However, in almost any field of human endeavor, the factors and players that interact to create both the present and the future are complex and numerous. They include globalization, regionalization, market forces, natural resources, information flows, media, culture, and governance. Since strategies are theories and theories call for abstractions, they only apply with some degree of certainty, for a limited time, in a few domains.
  • Navigating a Strategy Learning Learning adheres to the same principles as the process of evolution. Pursuant to the approval of a strategy, the events that unfold suggest new hypotheses, based on which one decides on next steps. In a state of uncertainty, there is little alternative to adaptation. And, only through action can organizations and people participate and gather the experience that both sparks and is informed by the process of learning.
  • Navigating a Strategy Strategizing Learning Predicting and Controlling Participating Theorizing Experimenting Choosing Directions Enabling Natural Selection Solving Problems Building Capabilities Challenging Others Listening to Others Explaining Interpreting Seeking the Truth Seeking What Works Desiring the Future Trusting Fate
  • Four Quotes It is a bad plan that admits of no modification. —Publilius Syrus Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship. —Omar Bradley Half the failures of this world arise from pulling in one's horse as he is leaping. —Julius Hare Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. —Peter Drucker
  • Further Reading • ADB. 2008. Reading the Future. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/reading-future • ADB. 2009. Asking Effective Questions. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/asking-effective-questions • ADB. 2009. From Strategy to Practice. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/strategy-practice • ADB. 2012. The Premortem Technique. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/premortem-technique • Kees van der Heijden. 2004. Can Internally Generated Futures Accelerate Organizational Learning? Futures. Vol. 36, pp. 145– 159.
  • Olivier Serrat Principal Knowledge Management Specialist Regional and Sustainable Development Department Asian Development Bank knowledge@adb.org www.adb.org/knowledge-management www.facebook.com/adbknowledgesolutions www.scribd.com/knowledge_solutions www.twitter.com/adbknowledge