So I was thrilled to listen to Gerry Johnson at Lancaster University Management School yesterday evening.
If you don’t know, he’s the one of Johnson and Scholes fame – and he runs the No 1 ranked strategy course – in the world. That’s right – the world.
You’ll know that in The Growth Engine Framework that “Having a Strategy That Aligns” it a central feature of high performing innovation organizations. And that’s because it’s a really good idea that people know what they are doing when they come into work every day (and, what they are not doing).
But for SMEs and large companies, strategy, more often than not is the domain of the most senior managers and it rarely makes its way to the coalface of where the customer is served. It’s difficult to do so, but not impossible. And it’s a duty of of those leaders.
Gerry talked about how organizations evolve through different stages in their life cycle, but that getting lost is not only all too easy. It is INEVITABLE.
It’s called Strategic Drift.
An essential problem (and opportunity) I write about is that innovation organizations are really systems made up of people. So if you ignore the people side of strategy, change and leadership, you are in for a rough ride. That’s System’s Thinking.
We all exhibit cognitive bias, do not make complex decisions rationally, are racked with doubt, rigidities, personal experiences that drive real behaviours every day. “How we see the world, drives strategy”
The problem compounds.
How then, can you avoid building toxic culture, and build beneficial ones?
For a start, develop the ability see the same situation from entirely different angles and make different conclusions. Avoid Group Think.
Be able to hold in tension operational excellence for today and creativity for tomorrow. Be Ambidextrous.
Imagine scenarios in your future, and act before they kill you.
Above all, Manage Strategy, by making it meaningful for peoples every day lives.
And Manage Culture, by challenging the Taken for Granted (how we do things round here).
What can you do to avoid toxic culture?