Anthony Davidson

The right context for strategy

Sometimes you need the right context for strategy. Last week a quiet beachfront property was used to explore the goals and priorities for a market leader in retirement living. The outcomes were impressive.

Over two days of discussion and reflection, a clear strategy emerged for doubling growth and the levers to achieving it.

Often strategy is a deliberate process – following a series of steps and using specific tools to analyse and decide a course of action to achieve a set of goals. But strategy can also emerge – as a result of past experiences or actions that open up new ways of seeing opportunities for improvement, innovation and growth.  

The right context for strategy – deliberate or emergent?

Deliberate strategy is typically used by established businesses with a long-term strategy and confidence in their ability to execute it. But unless everyone understands the strategy and their role in implementing it, success will be limited. This why deliberate strategy is so complicated and difficult to execute.

Emergent strategy is often used by businesses whose future is uncertain and when the right long-term strategy is not clear. It is a more flexible approach to achieving goals because it allows for opportunities and priorities to emerge. This enables your people to look for opportunities to improve and grow rather than “being told what to do.”

A combination of both is best

In my experience, a combination of both approaches works best. First, create a clear direction, set of goals, and strategic priorities with your teams for the next five years. From there, build a roadmap that provides the focus for the next twelve months and the starting point for the journey. Then empower each team to develop objectives and key results each quarter to achieve these 12 month goals. This agile approach enables each team to execute better, and to quickly adapt and respond to opportunities and challenges.

But don’t forget context and location for strategy are critical.