The Living Organisation :


“Strategy is the interaction of chance and intention” (Patricia Shaw)

The Strategy as written down in say a summary document, is not what ends up happening in the following business year. Your business outcomes are the result of a complex process of interaction between your intentions, your ability to carry these out, and what happens out there in your business environment, much of which you are not in control of.

Effective Strategy develops as an on-going iterative process of discussion, dialogue and action, finding ways of involving and engaging everybody in the business. By way of example, it was Churchill’s ability to act, respond to events and get others engaged, rather than his policies and strategy as put forward in 1938 that were successful during WW2.

  • What is your business mission and identity? What are you trying to achieve in the coming year?
  • How are you working with your stakeholders and each other to bring this alive?
  • How good are you at responding, adapting, learning from our experience?
  • How strong are the relational networks that support this responsiveness?

Strategic Thinking (rather than Planning) acknowledges that our belief in analysis and prediction is waning. How can we know what is going to happen until we go out there and try to make something happen? Jack Welsh suggests that “prediction is less important than reaction.”

Businesses and organisation need clear identities and intentions. B.P. does not sell fish and chips. The trick is to hold these ideas firmly enough, whilst also staying acutely aware of what is happening right now and being able to learn from that and adapt. An on-going, evolving “just-in-time” Strategy.

There are a vast array of strategy books, theories and models out there. Starting from a rarified, intellectual position is highly credible and comforting. But strategy developed in isolation from people and environment tends to remain “on the page.” This approach can be a way of putting off the messier process of engaging with peers, teams, Boards and others to wrestle together with key questions re business identity, markets, company history and opportunity.